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The Brief: July 12, 2011

For Texans, 2012's looking like the Year of the Perry, but don't forget the state's other looming marquee battle.

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (l), talks with Sen. Dan Patrick on the floor of the Texas Senate on April 18, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

For Texans, 2012's looking like the Year of the Perry, but don't forget the state's other looming marquee battle.

As the Tribune's Ross Ramsey reminds us today, that'd be the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, which has already seen several Republican candidates enter and exit the fray. Still in the crowded mix: Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones. Former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams and former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams recently jumped ship to instead vie for a new congressional seat based in Arlington.

But the race for Senate kicks into high gear Monday, when Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is expected to announce his candidacy. With name recognition, fundraising prowess and a large pot of his own money, Dewhurst has been cast as the race's front-runner since Hutchison announced her retirement.

"As long as [Dewhurst] was either in it, out of it, might get in it, might get out of it, he does indeed cast a very, very long shadow over the race," Michael Williams said of his decision to run instead for the House. "I'm just being honest."

But is Dewhurst vulnerable? As Ramsey notes, the lite guv's Senate candidacy in some ways looks a lot like that former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, an early front-runner who later lost Republican support to eventual winner Marco Rubio.

Dewhurst has taken heat from conservative Republicans like Erick Erickson of RedState, who has said the lieutenant governor plays "both sides of the fence" and "approached the budget as a math problem rather than an opportunity to downsize government."

As for Dewhurst's potential spoilers, Cruz is looking to attack Dewhurst from the right. He has received endorsements from a number of conservative groups likes the Club for Growth, and George Will of The Washington Post recently devoted an entire column to showering him with praise. State Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston, a conservative radio show host who has voiced interest in the Senate seat, would also attract Tea Party support. Cruz and Patrick (and, possibly, Jones, if she gets any traction) would likely split the anti-Dewhurst vote. Leppert, who has led in fundraising so far, would court moderates.

As for the Democrats, with only retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez and former Comptroller John Sharp in the mix so far, don't expect the types of fireworks we'll see on the other side — that is, unless actor Tommy Lee Jones jumps in. Remember those rumors?

Culled:

  • More details of Gov. Rick Perry's calls to VIPs in early voting states have surfaced. Following reports that he'd begun phoning Republican activists in Iowa, word came Monday that the governor has also started reaching out to big names in New Hampshire, including state Senate President Peter Bragdon. "He was looking for my thoughts in terms of what the presidential field looked like and what might happen if someone came in and shook things up a little bit," Bragdon told The Associated Press. "It certainly left me with the impression that he's doing his homework and giving it some serious consideration."
  • The redistricting map the Legislature passed this session avoided drawing West Texas House colleagues and close friends Jim Landtroop and Charles Perry into the same district. But Landtroop, of Plainview, appears to have attracted a primary challenge anyway. "Nothing against Landtroop," Gary Walker, a former House member, told the Amarillo Globe-News. "I just want people in District 88 to know there is an alternative."
  • On Monday, Glenn Beck put the rumors to rest: He's moving to Texas. The Fox News star announced Monday on his radio show that he's moving his family to Dallas, where he'll set up a film, TV and radio studio. "We're going to create some jobs with people who know how to create jobs in Texas," he said.

"With the economy in trouble, communities in crisis, people adrift in a sea of moral relativism, we need God’s help. That’s why I’m calling on Americans to pray and fast, like Jesus did, and as God called the Israelites to do." — Gov. Rick Perry in a new video promoting his Aug. 6 prayer event in Houston

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