U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz raised $1.1 million for his Senate bid during the fourth quarter, which left $2.9 million in his campaign treasury at year-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 over $4 million — as Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (so long as you don't count money 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 also picked up an endorsement from the Tea Party Express, which bills itself as the biggest PAC in the country that's associated with that movement.
• Former Arkansas Gov.-turned-pundit Mike Huckabee will be at Southfork Ranch next month for a fundraiser for the McKinney Christian Academy. That's a non-political event, but state Rep. Ken Paxton, who's running for state Senate in Collin, will be part of the proceedings.
• 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 (six Republicans and four Democrats short of a full ballot, by the way) and said that right now, either of the Democrats would lose to any of the Republicans by at least eight percentage points. Dewhurst would beat Democrat Paul Sadler by 18 points and Sean Hubbard by 17, the pollsters said. Republican Craig James, the least popular of the candidates on that side of the aisle, would beat Hubbard by eight points and Sadler by ten. Tom Leppert and Cruz both won their fantasy matchups by ten 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 January 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 around the state to register voters, get them involved in Democratic campaigns and then to 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 Dallas campus.
• Harris County Judge Ed Emmett will head the Republican Party's statewide coordinated campaign, a job that ordinarily falls to a statewide elected official.
• 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 HD-29 race to succeed him. Thompson will face Debra Rosenthal-Ritter in the Republican primary. Weber is one of ten 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 reelection 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, from former Corinth Mayor Shirley Spellerberg, from Kay Copeland of Denton County, a former member of the State Republican Executive Committee, and from Denise McNamara, former Republican national committeewoman from Texas.
• Scott Turner, running for the Texas House in a district in Collin and Rockwall counties, picked up endorsements from Cathie Adams, David Barton, and Kelly Shackleford, the heads, respectively, of the Texas Eagle Forum, Wallbuilders, and the Liberty Institute. The endorsements are from the individuals, not the groups.
• Pat Carlson gave up the presidency of the Texas Eagle Forum to run for the Texas House from Fort Worth. She's followed in that post by her predecessor, Cathie Adams, who left the job to be chairwoman of the Texas GOP.
• Matt Rinaldi, one of several Republicans running for an open seat in North Dallas County (where Rep. Jim Jackson, R-Carrollton, is retiring) got top grades on the National Rifle Association's report card; 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 HD-85, also got the group's top grade, without an endorsement, as did James Wilson, R-Tomball, who's challenging Rep. Debbie Riddle in the GOP primary.