The Brief: Top Texas News for Jan. 31, 2013

Attorney General Greg Abbott, left, and Gov. Rick Perry
Attorney General Greg Abbott, left, and Gov. Rick Perry

The Big Conversation

Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday threw cold water on speculation about a potential 2014 showdown with one of his political allies.

As WFAA-TV reported yesterday, Perry revealed that Attorney General Greg Abbott had told him that he wouldn't run for governor in 2014 if Perry decided to seek re-election.

"Greg is a dear friend," Perry said. "He has said clearly that if I ran again he's not going to be running against me. But that's beside the point."

Abbott's campaign wouldn't confirm whether such a conservation had taken place.

"Gov. Perry and Gen. Abbott are close friends, and talk frequently," Abbott spokesman Eric Bearse said in a statement. "I am not going to comment on private conversations I am not privy to. General Abbott is focused on taking care of the business of Texas, and political speculation right now is unproductive. The time for politics is after the legislative session."

Such an agreement between Perry and Abbott would defuse what was shaping up to be the state's marquee political battle of 2014 — an expensive, potentially bloody fight between two seasoned GOP heavyweights popular among the state's conservative base.

If Perry runs again, the arrangement could position Abbott to vie instead for lieutenant governor in a crowded Republican field that includes incumbent David Dewhurst and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson

Recent fundraising numbers, however, showed that Abbott would have started with a considerable financial advantage against the sitting governor: $18 million in the bank at the end of 2012, compared with Perry's $6 million. A new poll out this week from Public Policy Polling also showed showed Perry as potentially vulnerable in 2014, leading Abbott in a hypothetical matchup by only 3 points, 41 percent to 38 percent.  

Capitol Notes
Compiled from Tribune reports

•    Senate Finance Committee Tackles Health Budget: "The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday opened its discussion on how to finance the state's health budget by considering the impact of cost containment initiatives and how to proactively curb Medicaid fraud."

•    South Texans Feeling Momentum for University Plan: "On the heels of Gov. Rick Perry's endorsement of a plan to let South Texas get access to the Permanent University Fund, educators and legislators from the region were energized about the prospects for a plan for a new university there."

Culled
Texas news from across the state and around the web

•    House group secretly crafts immigration plan (Politico): "As a group of Senate stars tries to sell a new immigration proposal, their House counterparts are secretly toiling under the radar to craft their own plan in the next few weeks. … Negotiating for the Republicans are Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Sam Johnson and John Carter of Texas and Raul Labrador of Idaho."

•    Texans support assault weapons ban, mixed on Cornyn (Public Policy Polling): "49% of Texas voters support an assault weapons ban to just 41% opposed to it. Most Democrats support it, independents favor it by a 53/34 margin, and even among Republicans 23% support it. We've found support for the assault weapons ban everywhere we've polled it, but it's particularly striking to see that voters favor it in a pro-gun, anti-Obama state like Texas. 10 years into his time in the US Senate, John Cornyn is still a blank slate to a surprisingly large percentage of Texas voters. They're closely divided on his job performance with 34% of voters approving of him and 36% disapproving, with 30% not having an opinion either way."

•    Amazon announces Texas fulfillment centers (Austin American-Statesman): "Nine months after it struck a deal with the state to bring thousands of jobs and invest millions of dollars in Texas, online retail giant Amazon.com on Wednesday unveiled the first steps toward keeping its end of the bargain. Amazon said Wednesday it will build three fulfillment centers in Texas, creating about 1,000 jobs. The new facilities will include a 1.2 million square-foot site in Schertz, east of San Antonio; and two sites in the Dallas-Fort Worth area — a 1 million-square-foot center in Coppell and a 1.1 million-square-foot facility in Haslet."

Quote of the Day: "If this were attached to this rifle, it would suddenly become a banned assault weapon." — U.S. Sen Ted Cruz, holding up a plastic pistol grip at a Senate hearing Wednesday on gun violence 

Must-Read

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