The Brief: Top Texas News for Jan. 16, 2013

The Big Conversation

New fundraising numbers have sparked another round of speculation about the state's 2014 political battles.

According to campaign filings released Tuesday, Attorney General Greg Abbott raised $4.1 million in the second half of 2012, narrowly edging out Gov. Rick Perry, who raised $3.5 million during the same period.

But the real intrigue came in the cash-on-hand totals that each reported: $6 million for Perry, and a whopping $18 million for Abbott.

The considerable sum has spurred more talk of Abbott's long-rumored gubernatorial ambitions. As Jim Henson, a Tribune pollster and director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Austin American-Statesman: "You don’t raise $18 million to run for attorney general again."

 

The numbers could spell potential trouble for Perry, who has signaled that he may seek re-election in 2014 but, like Abbott, has said he won't announce his plans until after the legislative session. 

A report last week claimed that Abbott had told donors that he would run for governor in 2014. In response to the news, Perry invoked his trouncing of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the 2010 GOP primary, saying, "Sen. Hutchison also announced that she was going to run for governor back in 2009, so everybody gets the freedom to do that."

Tuesday's fundraising reports also included new numbers for the state officials said to be eyeing the lieutenant governor's office. Comptroller Susan Combs reported $7.3 million in her campaign fund, while Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson posted about $2 million and $1 million on hand, respectively. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who has said he plans to run for re-election, reported about $2 million on hand.

Culled 

•    GOP leaders’ plans may force Rick Perry to defend Texas business incentives (The Dallas Morning News): "GOP legislative leaders have proposed to give no new money for economic development incentives over the next two years, which may force Gov. Rick Perry into a major sales effort as he tries to rekindle lawmakers’ enthusiasm — or tolerance — for some of his pet programs. The House and Senate’s initial two-year budgets would force Perry’s deal-closing Texas Enterprise Fund to exhaust its last $7 million and throttle back on state film incentives and subsidies for major sporting events."

•    Lawmakers File Bill to Widen Financial Disclosure (The Texas Tribune): "State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, has filed companion legislation to a House bill from two freshman legislators — one on the far right, the other on the far left — that would expand the requirements of the state’s personal financial disclosure form."

•    Plano ISD board says schools need armed officers (WFAA-TV): "Tuesday's Plano ISD board meeting started with a moment of silence and a prayer for the victims of the Connecticut elementary school shooting. Trustees then agreed that keeping students safe is a priority, endorsing a proposal to add armed guards at district facilities."

•    Travis County ditches proposed gun show ban (Austin American-Statesman): "Travis County commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday to reverse course on a proposal that would have banned gun shows from county facilities, agreeing to honor an existing contract for nine shows at the Travis County Exposition Center over the next 13 months."

Quote of the Day: "I can no longer in good conscience tell individuals to give any more money to the national or state Republican parties or vote straight Republican." — Ashton Oravetz, chairman of the Smith County Republican Party, announcing his resignation, citing frustration with establishment Republicans

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