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Campaign Roundup: The Week's Political News

Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones is making a run for a state Senate seat. But her opponent in the GOP primary, state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, is challenging her on residency. That dispute is among this week's top political news items.

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Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones is asking the state's top lawyer to decide whether declaring San Antonio as her residence violates a constitutional provision that requires statewide officeholders to reside in the capital. Jones, a former House member from San Antonio, is challenging state Sen. Jeff Wentworth in the Republican primary.

Wentworth has challenged her on residency, saying she either lives in Austin, which isn't in the Senate district, or she lives in San Antonio, which would — in his reading of the law — require her to quit her statewide post. Jones, hoping to put it aside as a campaign issue, is asking Attorney General Greg Abbott for his official opinion. She says Wentworth isn't reading the Constitution correctly, and with the letter, she can tell voters in the district she's waiting for the official word from Abbott.

• Republican House candidate Bennett Ratliff of Coppell won the endorsement of the guy he wants to replace. State Rep. Jim Jackson, R-Carrollton, says he interviewed all of the Republicans who want to succeed him in the House and found them "all good, well-meaning conservatives who can do the job if elected." That said, he decided to endorse Ratliff and to contribute to his campaign.

• Scott O'Grady, a former fighter pilot seeking office for the first time, dropped his bid for the Texas Senate, leaving that Republican primary open to state Rep. Ken Paxton, who had all but wrapped up the local political support and who's got more than $850,000 in his campaign account. The two were vying for the seat now held by Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, who's not seeking re-election.

O'Grady's exit notice: "I would like to thank all of my supporters and citizens of North Texas for their encouragement. At this time due to the uncertainty of a primary election date from redistricting I am suspending my campaign for the Texas State Senate. I will continue to concentrate on championing conservative values and volunteering to make Texas a vibrant and prosperous state for all to live. God's blessings, Scott."

• Paxton picked up an endorsement from TEXPAC, the political action committee of the Texas Medical Association.

• Bragging rights: El Paso's Beto O'Rourke, who's challenging U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes for the Democratic nomination for Congress, outraised the incumbent $221,704 to $177,344 during the fourth quarter of the year. He's still behind overall, though, having raised $247,608 to the incumbent's $710,669 for this election cycle.

• The primary date is not yet set, but the Texas AFL-CIO's political arm endorsed former state Rep. Paul Sadler of Henderson in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. It heard from three of the Democratic candidates at its convention this weekend, including Sadler, Daniel Boone and Jason Gibson.

• The state's biggest labor organization also endorsed Democrat Keith Hampton for presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The current presiding judge, Republican Sharon Keller, is seeking re-election.

• Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst got the endorsement of the National Association of Realtors' political action committee, which was going on the recommendation, he says, of the Texas Association of Realtors. Dewhurst is chasing the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate.

• State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, says he won the endorsement of the National Rifle Association and got an "A" on that group's report card.

• Republican Scott Turner, running for the Texas House in a district in Collin and Rockwall counties, picked up endorsements from Cathie Adams, David Barton and Kelly Shackleford, the heads, respectively, of the Texas Eagle Forum, Wallbuilders and the Liberty Institute. The endorsements are from the individuals, not the groups.

• Pat Carlson gave up the presidency of the Texas Eagle Forum to run for the Texas House from Fort Worth. She's followed in that post by her predecessor, Cathie Adams, who had left the job to be chairwoman of the Texas GOP.

• Harris County Judge Ed Emmett will head the Republican Party's statewide coordinated campaign, a job that ordinarily falls to a statewide elected official.

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