The Brief: Inside the O'Keefe-Battleground Texas War

Travis County Democratic Party volunteers make calls to voters on Election Day from the coordinated campaign headquarters in Austin, Texas.
Travis County Democratic Party volunteers make calls to voters on Election Day from the coordinated campaign headquarters in Austin, Texas.

The Big Conversation

The Austin American-Statesman's Jonathan Tilove had a must-read in the Sunday paper, reporting some fascinating details in what he described as a "cat-and-mouse game" between Battleground Texas and James O'Keefe's Project Veritas that has apparently been going on for months.

For instance, Tilove writes that Battleground Texas officials found out about the undercover video project from someone who had eavesdropped on a conversation on board a New York commuter train between O'Keefe and a companion. Soon afterward, reports started coming from organizers in major Texas cities of "odd and eerily similar encounters at meetings at which a supposed 'volunteer' — really, they concluded, an O’Keefe agent provocateur — would suggest ways Battleground could cut legal corners in registering voters."

The first Project Veritas video on Battleground Texas dropped on Thursday, and Tilove reports the next video will be released this week or next. It's not known what will be on the next video, but Tilove noted that O'Keefe has turned his attention to Austin. Efforts included showing up with camera rolling at a deputy voter registrar training meeting, "nonpartisan training that is open to anyone but has included many volunteers with Battleground Texas, which now has about 5,000 deputy voter registrars statewide."

The Day Ahead

•    The four GOP candidates for lieutenant governor square off Monday evening in a televised debate at the KERA studios in Dallas.

Today in the Trib

Abbott, Davis Go After the Education Vote Differently: "The two leading candidates for governor are making education a talking point in their campaigns. Attorney General Greg Abbott is exploring charter schools and virtual learning and state Sen. Wendy Davis focused on teacher recruitment."

Governor's Race Has Been a War Over Words: "The leading candidates for governor have already started a war of words. Last week, it was about divorce and disability — and political correctness."

Local Governments Pursue Obamacare Enrollment: "Government officials and community-based organizations are working together to incorporate new rules, maximize their resources and educate uninsured Texans on how to take advantage of the federal health law."

Abbott: Davis Wants "Late-Term Abortion on Demand": "GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Greg Abbott attacked chief Democratic rival Wendy Davis — though not by name — at a boisterous anti-abortion rally at the Texas Capitol Saturday."

Must-Read

Texas Woman Is Taken Off Life Support After Order, The New York Times

Fikac: Some Davis foes pushing a seamy agenda, Houston Chronicle

Sanchez: Dems squandering opportunity in Texas, The (McAllen) Monitor

Elusive Stockman's passport gets Russian stamp, Houston Chronicle

Despite tea party grumbling, John Cornyn in good shape in GOP primary, The Dallas Morning News

Ralph Hall’s challengers for Congress duel over outsider status, The Dallas Morning News

Nathan Hecht becomes longest serving member of Texas Supreme Court, Austin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

"Money attracts consultants like honey attracts bees."

— Political consultant Mark McKinnon on why Texas races attract the top consultant talent from across the nation

News From Home

Only one more week in the free preview of Texas Weekly. Enjoy it while you can, but don’t wait to sign up! It all ends Feb. 1.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Comptroller candidate Debra Medina at the Austin Club, 1/30 

•    Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, candidate for lieutenant governor, at the Austin Club, 2/6

•    Sen. Kel Seliger and Reps. John Smithee and Four Price at West Texas A&M in Canyon, 2/7

•    Reps. Joe Deshotel and Allan Ritter at Lamar University in Beaumont, 2/19

•    Texas Tribune Festival On the Road at The University of Texas El Paso for a daylong symposium on demographic change, 2/27

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21

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