U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz raised $1.1 million for his campaign during the fourth quarter, which left $2.9 million in his campaign treasury at year's end. Federal candidates don't have to report their numbers until the end of the month, but Cruz said the results mean he raised about as much so far — just more than $4 million — as Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (as long as you don't count money that Dewhurst has contributed to his own campaign). Dewhurst announced his numbers last week; neither of those Republicans has released a copy of the full reports that will go to the Federal Election Commission next week.
• Cruz is getting a boost from a political action committee controlled by U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., in the form of a 15-second commercial running on television in Texas. The commercial from the Senate Conservatives Fund calls Cruz a Tea Party conservative and "the conservative alternative to Dewhurst."
• Dewhurst, meanwhile, is running an ad that features former Arkansas Gov.-turned-pundit Mike Huckabee taking a pop at DeMint and other out-of-staters who support Cruz, saying "the Washington insiders have come to Texas falsely attacking David Dewhurst."
• Huckabee will be at Southfork Ranch next month for a fundraiser for the McKinney Christian Academy. That's a nonpolitical event, but state Rep. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, who's running for state Senate, will be part of the proceedings. Huckabee already endorsed his Senate bid (and last year endorsed Paxton when he challenged House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio).
• Democrats running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Texas start well behind their Republican competitors, according to Public Policy Polling. That outfit tested four Republicans against two Democrats and said that right now, either of the Democrats would lose to any of the Republicans by at least 8 percentage points. Dewhurst would beat Democrat Paul Sadler by 18 points and Sean Hubbard by 17, the pollsters said. Republican Craig James, who appears to be the least popular of the GOP candidates, would beat Hubbard by 8 percentage points and Sadler by 10. Tom Leppert and Cruz both won their fantasy matchups by 10 points or better. None of the Democrats, the pollsters said, were as well known to voters as the Republicans. The survey of 700 voters (by automated phone calls) was done Jan. 12-15 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percent.
• The Promesa Project, an effort by Texas Democrats to engage young Latinos, is putting paid staffers on "at least" 11 college campuses across the state to register voters, get them involved in Democratic campaigns and then get out the vote when it's time for elections. They've targeted the University of Texas campuses in Austin, El Paso, Arlington, Pan American, San Antonio and Brownsville; the Texas A&M campuses in Corpus Christi and Kingsville; the University of Houston main and downtown campuses; and the University of North Texas at Dallas campus.
• State Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, wants Ed Thompson to follow him in the Texas House. Weber is leaving to run for an open congressional seat and endorsed Thompson, Pearland's former mayor pro tem, in the House District 29 race to succeed him. Thompson will face Debra Rosenthal-Ritter in the Republican primary. Weber is one of 10 candidates signed up for that congressional race; new redistricting maps could change that field.
• Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, picked up an endorsement from the Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC in his re-election bid. He's got a GOP primary challenger from Midland, Randy Rives.
• Jim Herblin, a Prosper Republican challenging Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, picked up endorsements from former Sherman Mayor Harry Reynolds; former Corinth Mayor Shirley Spellerberg; Kay Copeland of Denton County, a former member of the State Republican Executive Committee; and Denise McNamara, former Republican national committeewoman from Texas.
• Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, got top grades and endorsement from the National Rifle Association, as did Rep. Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville. Matt Rinaldi, one of several Republicans running for an open seat in North Dallas County (where Rep. Jim Jackson, R-Carrollton, is retiring) also got top grades; the group's endorsement doesn't necessarily go with that grade, and in this case, they haven't publicly named a favorite. Mac Smith, a Republican running in House District 85, also got the group's top grade without an endorsement.
• State Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock, got a re-election endorsement from the Texas Retailers Association PAC.
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