The Brief: Top Texas News for Oct. 19, 2012

State Rep. Pete Gallego (c), D-Alpine, waits to speak on an amendment to HB1 the state budget on April 1, 2011
State Rep. Pete Gallego (c), D-Alpine, waits to speak on an amendment to HB1 the state budget on April 1, 2011

The Big Conversation:

A controversial advertisement has heightened the drama in what was already the state's most heated congressional battle. 

Two days after state Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, slammed Republican opponent Francisco "Quico" Canseco for sending out an anti-Gallego mailer depicting Jesus, three Republicans who served in the Legislature with Gallego took aim at Canseco.

As the Tribune's Jay Root reports, Gallego's campaign on Thursday released statements from state Rep. Burt Solomons of Carrollton and former Reps. Elvira Reyna of Mesquite and David Swinford of Dumas condemning the ad, which also depicted a baby's face and two men kissing in an attempt at drawing attention to Gallego's views on abortion and gay rights.

"I’ve known Pete a long time," Solomons said. "We don’t agree on every issue, but he’s an honorable man. The constituents would better be served if Congressman Canseco stuck to the issues."

 

Reyna said, "It saddens me that Congressman Canseco has chosen to use a sacred image on a political mail piece." Swinford called the religious imagery in the mailer "plain wrong." 

The Republicans' criticism echoed Gallego's remark on Tuesday at a press conference that he'd "never seen a picture of Jesus used in such a disrespectful and demeaning manner." Canseco, though, has stood by the ad, saying it accurately reflects Gallego's views on social issues.

"Pete Gallego can have all the press conferences that he wants," Canseco said ealier this week. "We need to talk about who we are and what we stand for and not hide behind all these antics."

Gallego, who says the ad is inaccurate (he supports civil unions but said he has "never been in favor of gay marriage," for instance), has called on Canseco to apologize.

Culled:

•     Newspaper editorial boards across the state have begun chiming in with their endorsements for the Novemeber elections. A sampling of this week's highlights: The Houston Chronicle's editorial board has endorsed Ted Cruz, calling him "thoughtful, energetic and dynamic." The Dallas Morning News went with Paul Sadler, whom it praises as a "smart, constructive, visionary leader who worked effectively across the aisle." And in one of the state's most closely watched legislative races, Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis has won the support of her hometown paper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which calls her a "tough fighter, a conscientious public servant and an able leader."

•     Thousands of documents detailing two decades of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America were made public on Thursday. The documents, whose release was ordered by the Oregon Supreme Court, include 71 Texas men who were banned from the organization between 1965 and 1985, as The Dallas Morning News reports. Some were accused of being gay, while others faced sexual abuse charges. The organization expressed remorse over the cases but said it has improved its abuse-reporting policies since the time of the cases in question. "While it’s difficult to understand or explain individuals’ actions from many decades ago, today Scouting is a leader among youth-serving organizations in preventing child abuse," Wayne Perry, the president of the Boy Scouts of America, said in a statement. 

•     The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced Thursday that the Women's Health Program would permit doctors to discuss abortion with their patients. The announcement, as the Tribune's Nick Swartsell reports, amounted to a peace offering to medical and women's groups, which had strongly objected to a new rule prohibiting doctors in the program — which will now be run by the state, instead of the federal government — from discussing abortion with their patients and practicing alongside other doctors who perform the procedure. "What seemed to make the big play was that a physician could not talk to her patient about something that was legal and allowable," Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek said of the proposed rule. Janek also said Thursday, according to the San Antonio Express-News, that the state may be forced to abandon its plans to take over the Women's Health Program if a court rules that Texas may not exclude Planned Parenthood from the program.

•     U.S. Senate candidates Ted Cruz and Paul Sadler will square off again tonight in their second, and final, debate before the November election. The forum, hosted by Dallas PBS affiliate KERA, will air at 7 p.m. on public media stations across the state and stream live on the Tribune's home page. The race between Cruz and Sadler had remained relatively quiet until tension between the two erupted at their first debate two weeks ago. Watch tonight for a possible repeat of the hostile affair.

"Religion brings us together. Jesus should not be a prop for any campaign." — GOP state Rep. Burt Solomons on the mailer controversy in the CD-23 race

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