The Brief: Texas Political News for Aug. 8, 2013

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Sen. Dan Patrick in the Senate chamber as political drama unfolds at the Texas Capitol in the last hour of the 83rd Texas Legislature's first special session.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Sen. Dan Patrick in the Senate chamber as political drama unfolds at the Texas Capitol in the last hour of the 83rd Texas Legislature's first special session.

The Big Conversation

With the third special legislative session complete, some lawmakers are already beefing up for the political battles that lie ahead in the 2014 election cycle.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s unveiling of his re-election campaign team on Wednesday revealed his intention to take a conservative grassroots approach to what is expected to be a tough primary. Leading the team will be Ryan Hecker, a former director of FreedomWorks for America, which endorsed Tea Party darling Ted Cruz over Dewhurst in the 2012 U.S. Senate election.

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston have announced their intentions to challenge Dewhurst for his seat. But on Wednesday, Patrick was busy fighting another battle with state education board member Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant. The two agreed to duke out their disagreements on CSCOPE lessons plans in a public debate. Patrick suggested it should be held in Tyler on August 24, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Meanwhile, in the race to replace Attorney General Greg Abbott, Republican House members are being asked to pick sides. Fifty-three of 94 GOP House members have endorsed their lower chamber colleague, state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, while 23 endorsed state Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney.

Some of the 17 remaining holdouts could be backing Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman, who is also in the running for attorney general. While others, such as state Reps. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, and Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, may be busy weighing their ambitions to run for higher office. Creighton has expressed interest in running for agricultural commissioner, while Hilderbran has announced plans to run for state comptroller. 

Culled

•     Texas Tea Partiers Gunning for Gohmert to Primary Cornyn (National Review) “Louie Gohmert for Senate? That’s what a number of Texas tea-party activists are hoping for. They’re not happy with Senator John Cornyn, and Katrina Pierson, who serves on the Texas Tea Party Caucus Advisory Board, tells me she’s heard from a number of activists pushing for the outspoken East Texas congressman to challenge the senator.”

•     Whooping Crane Case Could Affect Water Supplies (The Texas Tribune) “As drought conditions and dry forecasts persist across Texas, lawyers will argue a case in front of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday that could have major implications for water supplies in the state — and for natural resource planning nationally.”

•     The One That Got Away (Texas Monthly) “Call me Ishmael. Or call me crazy. But I already miss Rick Perry. Democrats mocked him as Governor Goodhair and Governor Oops, Slick Rick and Tricky Ricky, all the while losing elections, limbs, and legislatures to our great white whale.”

Quote to Note:  “What they have between themselves — that would seem to be their business,” — state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton on the battle between University of Texas and regents over access to records

Must-Read

•     Senator, state education board member consider debate on CSCOPE, The Dallas Morning News

•     Burkablog: Billion Dollar Band Aids, Texas Monthly

•     31 Days, 31 Ways: Extra Funding Means New Equipment for State 911 System, The Texas Tribune

•     Efforts to Change Voting Laws, The New York Times

•     Dewhurst campaign team has conservative bent, Austin American-Statesman

•     Editorial: Parkland survives, against long odds, The Dallas Morning News

•     Schieffer ready to play ball with high-speed rail, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

•     Lawyer Says Fort Hood Defendant’s Goal is Death, The New York Times

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.