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Ted Cruz tries to lure David Dewhurst into a fight, while Tom Leppert taunts them both in a new TV ad.

U.S. Senate candidates Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst

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 frontrunner'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."

Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman found 69 people who'll vote for him; his campaign says that many Republicans in the Texas House have endorsed his first bid for statewide election. Gov. Rick Perry appointed Smitherman to the post earlier this year and he's seeking election in 2012.

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.

Bracy Wilson, a McKinney Republican, will run for the Texas House in Ken Paxton's seat; Scott Sanford, a CPA and executive pastor of  a Baptist church is in that same race. Paxton is running for the state Senate. Wilson is the founder of HelpCharters LLC, a charter school developer.

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 Gov. Rick Perry's bid for president.

Empower Texans PAC endorsed Republican Supreme Court Justice Don Willett for reelection.

The Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC endorsed freshman state Rep. Marva Beck, R-Centerville.

Running for reelection: State Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington.

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Explore related story topics

2012 elections Beto O'Rourke Charles Schwertner Chris Turner David Dewhurst Don Willett Kelly Hancock Ken Paxton Larry Taylor Rodney Anderson Ted Cruz Wayne Christian