The Brief: Texas Political News for Oct. 11, 2013

Greg Abbott announces his run for governor at the La Villita Historic Arts District in downtown San Antonio on July 14, 2013.
Greg Abbott announces his run for governor at the La Villita Historic Arts District in downtown San Antonio on July 14, 2013.

The Big Conversation

A down-ballot dispute over in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants has spilled into the governor's race.

Earlier this week, a fight erupted in the lieutenant governor's race over a new ad from state Sen. Dan Patrick claiming that he was the only candidate who opposed in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. The ad drew a sharp rebuke from Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who accused Patrick of lying. 

Now, the same issue has moved the spotlight back to the governor's race. 

As the Tribune's Jay Root reports, Attorney General Greg Abbott, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, stayed quiet about the issue this week until Thursday, when a spokesman released a statement saying Abbott thought the law was well intended but should be altered.

"Greg Abbott believes that the objective of the program is noble," the spokesman said. "But, he believes the law as structured is flawed and it must be reformed."

Abbott's main opponent in the Republican primary, Tom Pauken, accused Abbott of backing away from the issue in an attempt to appear more moderate in preparation for a general election. 

"He thinks he’s going to waltz through the primaries without any debate," Pauken said. "He’s going to move to the middle as soon as the primaries are over."

As Root puts it: "Abbott's hyper-careful, muted approach to the hot-button issue speaks volumes about the trouble confronting Republicans who try to balance their outreach to the exploding Hispanic population with their ongoing courtship of Tea Party activists who fiercely oppose any perceived benefits going to illegal immigrants."

Meanwhile, Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis' campaign praised the in-state tuition law, which was signed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2001 and is sometimes referred to as the Texas DREAM Act.

"Sen. Davis supports the DREAM Act as written and passed by the bipartisan Texas Legislature. She believes that expanding access to quality education in our Texas colleges and universities will secure our state's future, help create high-skill, high-wage jobs and make Texas even stronger," said a Davis spokesman. "All Texans should have an opportunity to contribute to our growing economy, including children who were brought here through no fault of their own."

Culled

•    Hance to Step Down as Texas Tech Chancellor, Sources Say (The Texas Tribune): "Sources at the Texas Tech University System confirmed late Thursday that Chancellor Kent Hance intends to announce on Friday that he will retire in the summer of 2014. He has served in the position since Dec 1, 2006."

•    Texas Democrats seek meeting with Cornyn, Cruz (Houston Chronicle): "Texans feeling the hardships of the government shutdown are calling congressional offices and pleading for an end to the budget stalemate. That mounting frustration in the Lone Star State prompted Texas Democrats on Thursday to seek a meeting with Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both Republicans, to find a way to help constituents back home. 'Let's get in a room, and talk, and stop the bleeding,' said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, chairwoman of the state's 12-member Democratic congressional delegation."

•    No Quick Deal, but Offer by G.O.P. on Debt Shifts the Tone (The New York Times): "President Obama and House Republicans failed to reach agreement on a six-week extension of the nation’s borrowing authority during a meeting Thursday at the White House, but the two sides kept talking, and the offer from politically besieged Republicans was seen as an initial step toward ending the budget standoff."

•    Abbott: Water transfers could be among drought solutions (Austin American-Statesman): "Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott said Thursday that Texas should pursue an 'all of the above' approach to meeting its water needs, including transferring water between regions of the state. Speaking to the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Republican state attorney general listed desalination, expanding existing reservoirs, aquifer storage, conservation and water transfers. … 'If we could give water to those that are flush with it, to those who need it, that would be a simple solution,' Abbott said during a question-and-answer session. 'The politics of it are a little more complicated than that, but that is what we need leadership for, to find a way forward."

Quote to Note: "How exactly was he going to achieve abolition of Obamacare? Explain that to me. Has he ever explained it? And where is he now?" — Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer on Ted Cruz, during an appearance on Laura Ingraham's radio show on Thursday

Must-Read

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