Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is running a state version of a Rose Garden strategy in his bid for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, appearing only rarely with lesser-known opponents who'd like to get more chances to poke at him. The loudest of that group, former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, is now challenging Dewhurst to a series of five Lincoln-Douglas-style debates. No acceptance letter has come out of the front-runner's camp, but a group called the Grassroots Texans Network says now that it will sponsor the debates if they're held. The invitations apparently don't include the other candidates in the field, such as former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones. Leppert, meanwhile, is up with his second TV ad, this one titled "Fix things with a speech?" It's a shot at Cruz and Dewhurst, identified in his spot as "a lawyer and a career politician."
Bob Yancy got a Texans for Fiscal Responsibility endorsement in the HD-14 race that's under way now. That Brazos County election is the last that will be held under the current House maps; the winner gets Rep. Fred Brown's chair until early 2013, and will have to run again in March and November in a new district. Yancy also picked up a nod from the Young Conservatives of Texas. Judy LeUnes, the Democrat in that race, picked up an endorsement from the Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers.
Former Texas Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo is endorsing Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, for the RRC seat that'll be open when Elizabeth Ames Jones' term is over. Chisum also has Rob Looney of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, Wallbuilders founder and president David Barton and Carol Everett, founder of the Heidi Group. Chisum will face Christi Craddick and Roland Sledge in the GOP primary.
The family of Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman is feeling generous toward Gov. Rick Perry, who appointed him in July. As reported in the Huffington Post, Smitherman, his wife Marijane, son Wyatt who's at Texas A&M, and a daughter each donated the $2,500 maximum to Perry's campaign. Another son, who still lives at home, sent in $1,000.
Add Jerome Tilghman, an educator and retired Army major, to El Paso's congressional race. Tilghman, a Democrat, is getting into the primary with U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes and former City Rep. Beto O'Rourke.
Jim Kuiken, a Republican from Weslaco, will challenge U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Edinburg. Kuiken served in the Marines and the Marine Reserve for 30 years, worked for the Border Patrol and is now a business consultant.
Scott Sanford, a McKinney Republican, will run for the Texas House in Ken Paxton's seat. Paxton is giving up HD-70 to run for the state Senate. He's a CPA and executive pastor at a Baptist church. Bracy Wilson will also be in that primary. He's the founder of HelpCharters LLC, a charter school developer.
Ann Witt, who lost a bid for the Texas House 10 years ago, is making another run at it as a candidate in HD-136. She's a real estate and land developer. She challenged Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, in her last go-round; this time she's running for the open seat where Rep. Beverly Woolley, R-Houston, is retiring. Two others are already in: Pam Holm and Michael Schofield.
The political arms of some big trade associations are sponsoring a meet-and-greet for Chris Paddie, a Republican running in HD-9. What's unusual about that? It's not an open seat: State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, is the incumbent there. Paddie is the mayor of Marshall and general manager of a radio station there. The political action committees of three groups — the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Association of Manufacturers and the Texas Ophthalmological Association — are hosting.
The Conservative Republicans of Texas — a Houston-based group fronted by Dr. Steve Hotze — released its first endorsements of the season. The group's list: Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood; Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills; Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie; Ken Paxton, R-McKinney; and Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown. All are running for Senate seats. Hotze sent out email blasts on behalf of each, including personalized web videos featuring him saying nice things about the candidates.
State Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Denton, who had an unexpectedly strong challenge in her primary in 2010, picked up an endorsement in this round from Texans for Lawsuit Reform.
The Texas Academy of Family Physicians PAC endorsed former state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Burleson, in his bid for HD-101, an open seat in Tarrant County.
Dallas tax consultant Brint Ryan has signed up as campaign finance chairman for state Rep. Stefani Carter, R-Dallas. Ryan, a former mayoral candidate, is also co-founder of Make Us Great Again, the Super PAC supporting Perry's bid for president.
Empower Texans PAC endorsed Republican Supreme Court Justice Don Willett for re-election.