The Brief: Abbott and Equal Pay Dominate the Day

The Big Conversation

The issue of equal pay dominated the discussion again in the gubernatorial contest on Wednesday. Here's how the day was covered:

•    The Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News' Peggy Fikac led off the day with an analysis of the pay differential among men and women in the attorney general's office under Greg Abbott. Her big finding was that among assistant attorneys general, men earned nearly $6,000 more than women. The average pay was higher for men in six of seven job categories. What those numbers mean is up to some interpretation. Fikac talked to one Abbott critic, the Texas Civil Rights Project's Jim Harrington, who called them evidence of a "prima facie case of discrimination." A UT professor, Sandra E. Black, said discrimination is just one of many factors in why "women are underrepresented at the top and doing worse."

•    The Dallas Morning News' Christy Hoppe, meanwhile, focused on the Abbott counterattack that Wendy Davis was a hypocrite on the issue because a water district her law firm represented on bond issues successfully defended itself — with different legal representation — against a fair pay lawsuit.

But Hoppe said Abbott's argument ends up in an odd place when taken to its logical conclusion. "It’s gotten so muddled that the Abbott campaign is fighting back by calling Davis hypocritical because her law firm represents the Tarrant Regional Water District as bond counsel. ... Adding to the dotted-line muddle is that the water district won the suit by using the same legal argument employed by Abbott’s Attorney General’s Office in a different lawsuit."

•    Abbott also said on Wednesday that he would not have signed the legislation intended to mirror the Lilly Ledbetter Act at the state level. That bill was vetoed last year by Gov. Rick Perry. As The Associated Press reported, "It is an issue that dogged Abbott, the state's current attorney general, who had previously refused to take a position on the issue." The Texas Observer's Christopher Hooks was skeptical, though, that Abbott's statement would make the conflict go away:

 

"From a political standpoint, this seems like an incomprehensibly weird move. Will the Davis campaign stop hammering Abbott over this issue now that Abbott has swept away doubt from his position? The opposite! He’s given the Davis campaign — even more than they had before — a clear line to use against Abbott: 'Abbott opposes making it easier for women to demand equal pay.' Pay equity is something women really care about. And he did it, apparently, just hours after a major newspaper raised substantial questions about pay equity at his own office."

The Day Ahead

•    Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is in Arlington to take part in a luncheon candidate forum hosted by the Republican Women of Arlington. Dewhurst's challenger in the GOP runoff election, Dan Patrick, is in Dallas over the lunch hour for an appearance with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in front of supporters.

•    Join us for a conversation with Kinky Friedman, candidate for agriculture commissioner, at the Austin Club. We will livestream the event beginning at 8 a.m.

•    Join us also for the Amplify Texas Happy Hour at The Brew Exchange, 706 W. Sixth St., from 6-8 p.m.

Today in the Trib

Among Conservatives, Taxing Districts Create a Rift: "In 2013, developer Don Huffines and state Sen. Ken Paxton backed the expansion of a taxing district in North Texas — a practice that isn’t uncommon, but that has exposed a fiscal rift among conservatives."

Rolando Pablos: The TT Interview: "The CEO of the Borderplex Alliance on what El Paso needs to do to shed its reputation as a hub for low-skilled and low-wage industries, why he thinks the war in Ciudad Juárez is officially over and his thoughts on immigration reform."

Analysis: Runoffs Put Incumbents on the Brink: "For a political challenger, a runoff can be good news: They lived to fight another day. For incumbent officeholders, runoffs are fraught with the idea that voters are shopping for someone new."

Polling Center: Legal Pot in Texas? Snuff the Thought: "Only 28 percent of Texans say they are opposed to legalization of marijuana for any reason. Most would okay it for medicinal use and nearly half would approve it for recreational use. But the state's most conservative voters are not likely to go along."

 

Must-Read

Robert S. Strauss, Presidential Confidant and Deal Maker, Dies at 95, The New York Times

Cruz staffer leaves to run 2016 super-PAC, The Hill

Don Huffines, Likely Headed To Texas Senate, Supports Term Limits, School Choice, Creationism, KERA

Activists Want to Return Texas GOP Platform to Hard-line Stance on Immigrants, Texas Observer

Voting machines seized; tampering investigation to follow, McAllen Monitor

State’s highest criminal court to hear Tom DeLay money-laundering case, Austin American-Statesman

Texas death house restocked with deadly drug days before supply set to run out, Houston Chronicle

Court keeps sexting ruling, limits power of attorney general, Austin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

"As you know, you don’t take a knife to a gunfight. Well, this president’s taken a paintball gun to a gunfight: It looks pretty, but it’s not going to accomplish anything."

— U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, telling Fox News' Brian Kilmeade that President Barack Obama's actions on Ukraine are ineffectual

News From Home

•    The Texas Tribune is participating in Amplify Austin! The 24-hour Central Texas giving festival begins at 6 p.m. on March 20 and ends at 6 p.m. on March 21Preschedule your gift of $25 (or more) to the Tribune today and have it count to Amplify Austin.

When you give to the Tribune, you're making Texas a better place to live and work, and helping the Tribune compete for big booster prizes. Let's Amplify Texas!

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Sen. Charles Schwertner and Reps. John Raney and Kyle Kacal at Texas A&M University in College Station, 3/27

•    A Conversation With Mike Collier, Candidate for State Comptroller at the Austin Club, 4/17

•    A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

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