The Brief: Top Texas News for July 17, 2012

The Big Conversation:

Ahead of their last televised debate, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst still leads in the money game, but he may no longer be able to claim an outright advantage over Ted Cruz.

Financial reports released Monday showed that Cruz received $1.7 million in the latest fundraising quarter, slightly ahead of the $1.5 million collected by Dewhurst, who has outraised Cruz since the beginning of the race, the Tribune's Jay Root reports.

"This is a remarkable showing of grassroots support across Texas and the nation," said Cruz spokesman James Bernsen.

But Dewhurst's personal wealth kept him ahead of Cruz overall. The lieutenant governor loaned himself $4.5 million last quarter, bringing his net donations — individual contributions plus about $11 million in loans — to about $19 million since the beginning of the race, compared with Cruz's $8.3 million.

 

“After another successful fundraising quarter, the momentum continues to build for David Dewhurst in his bid for U.S. Senate,” said Dewhurst senior adviser Jim Bognet.

Not counting loans, though, the candidates have run roughly evenly in the amount of contributions they've received: $7.8 million for Dewhurst, $7.5 million for Cruz.

The good news for Cruz comes just days after two polls showed him leading Dewhurst, who finished ahead in the May 29 primary. A Cruz-supporting Super PAC also announced last week that it would pump $1.5 million into the race.

Look for an energized Cruz at tonight's debate, which will take place at 7 p.m. tonight at the WFAA studios in Dallas. The forum will be aired statewide and streamed on wfaa.com.

Also look for fireworks over the latest source of controversy in the race: honesty.

Culled:

  • The Tribune today launched the Schools Explorer, our most comprehensive public education data app yet. Use it to find academic, enrollment and financial information on Texas’ 1,300 districts and 8,500 public schools and to track graduation rates, test scores and more. Campuses can also be sorted by accountability rating and demographics. Take it for a test spin here.
  • As noted Monday, President Barack Obama will arrive in Texas today mostly in search of money, not votes. Obama will speak in San Antonio at a luncheon at 1 p.m. and in Austin at an LGBT Leadership Council event at 5:45 p.m, with private fundraising stops in both cities after each event. The campaign expects to raise about $3.5 million on Tuesday, which would break a record the campaign set last May, when Obama pulled in $2 million during visits to Austin and El Paso.
  • Texans donated $13 million to Mitt Romney in the latest fundraising quarter, making Texas Romney's No. 4 fundraising state, behind California, New York and Florida, according to The Dallas Morning News. Some notable Romney donors in the state besides the usual stable of wealthy Republicans: Harriett Miers, the former U.S. Supreme Court nominee, who gave $10,000; former Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks, who gave $10,250; and Preston Troutt, a high school student and son of billionaire Kenny Troutt, who gave $75,800.

"If the teachers of this state stood up together with one voice and said we're not going to tolerate cutting $5.2 billion out of public education ... your numbers alone, with your family members, would control the election." — Democratic U.S. Senate contender Paul Sadler to the Association of Texas Professional Educators summit on Monday

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