Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson invited both of the Democrats running for his job to stop by for a crash course on the General Land Office. He says he's doing it to raise the level of discourse during the campaign. "The majority of Texans have no clue what the Land Office does. And that includes members of the Legislature. I'm not being critical because when I was in the Legislature I didn't know what the Land Office did either," said Patterson. He wants to make sure his opponents DO know what goes on. So when they're on the campaign trail... maybe there will be less name calling and more civil debate over how the office is run.

Democratic hopeful Bill Burton stopped by the office this morning. He was greeted by Patterson, brought into a room with all of the offices deputies — and given a 15 minute tutorial by each on what their specific department does. The other Democrat in the race, Hector Uribe, has also been invited. Burton seemed pleased to be there — and was taking plenty of notes during the presentations. Patterson was even able to eek out a "Good Luck" when talking about the election.

While the event was good-natured — the invitation could also make for a shrewd campaign move. Not that he would run an ad like this — but during the briefing I kept picturing a campaign commercial that said something along the line of, "Jerry Patterson: He had to teach his opponents about the office they were running for." Could you imagine what would happen if other incumbents offered a similar briefing? "Hey Kay... this is Governor Perry. I know you've been in Washington for a bunch of years — so I wanted to invite you to stop by the Texas Capitol so I could give you a briefing on what the Governor's office does."

It's not unusual for state officeholders — or their staffs — to brief people running for those offices, if the incumbent is on the way out. It is unusual, though, to brief the people who want to knock you off. Patterson, for instance, got a briefing on the GLO from then Land Commissioner Garry Mauro. But Mauro wasn't going to run for reelection — he was running for governor. (And for the curious, Patterson lost that 1998 Republican primary to David Dewhurst, who's now the lieutenant governor.)

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