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Campaign Chatter

It's 2012, but everybody wants to talk about 2014.

Former state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville.

Put Harvey Hilderbran, the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, into the mix for a comptroller race in two years. The current occupant, Susan Combs, has been looking at David Dewhurst's job as the lieutenant governor runs for U.S. Senate. After Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, expressed interest, Hilderbran threw down with this: "The recent flurry of speculations over the 2014 elections need to be tempered with the reality that our duties and obligations as legislators are focused on the 2013 legislative session. Meeting our session duties are priority #1. Also, our duties as Republicans need to be on defeating Obama in the 2012 November election.  In terms of the 2014 statewide elections, there are many statewide offices that may or may not be open. I am interested in serving the people of Texas in a statewide office, including the office of Comptroller, an office with responsibilities that mirror those I have as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Right now, however, my main focus is on the current election and the upcoming session."  Now you know.

There was a related rumor that former Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, is interested in statewide office. Maybe, he says, adding that he's not really been thinking about it too hard. He thought Hegar was looking at the agriculture commissioner job that would open up if Todd Staples runs for lieutenant governor. If Hegar isn't in that race, Gattis says he'll have a look at it.

Justin Hewlett is offering a free tour of CD-25 to two Republicans who are moving into the district to seek the nomination. Hewlett is the mayor of Cleburne and is picking on Roger Williams and Michael Williams, both of whom were running for U.S. Senate, then for a Tarrant County congressional seat and then, after the maps were changed, for the GOP nomination in a district stretching from Fort Worth to south of Austin.

Elizabeth Ames Jones launched her air campaign against state Sen. Jeff Wentworth with a TV ad taking credit for oil patch (and gas) jobs created while she was at the Texas Railroad Commission. That started during the second-to-last weekend of March Madness basketball. That's a three-way Republican primary for the San Antonio-based seat: Donna Campbell is the third candidate.

Tom Gray, running for the Waco-based 10th Court of Appeals, is getting some help. Former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips endorsed him, as did TEXPAC, the political arm of the Texas Medical Association.

• TEXPAC endorsed Michael Truncale in the CD-14 Republican primary. He's one of ten Republicans in that primary to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.

Jason Villalba, who's running in HD-114, got an endorsement from Mitt Romney. He was on Romney's 2008 National Hispanic Steering Committee, and the presidential candidate is returning the favor. That's the seat opened by Dallas Republican Rep. Will Hartnett's decision not to seek another term.

Sylvia Romo, running as a Democrat in the new CD-35, unleashed a list of San Antonio endorsees that includes former HUD Secretary and San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, a commissioner, a state senator, five state reps, and a slew of other local officials. Romo, Bexar County's Tax Assessor-Collector, faces U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, in that primary.

Matt Beebe, the San Antonio Republican challenging House Speaker Joe Straus in the primary, got endorsements from three former House members: Rick Green of Dripping Springs, Nathan Macias of Bulverde, and John Shields of San Antonio.

• Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst picked up endorsements from the Texas Society of Professional Engineers, the Texas Apartment Association, and the Independent Bankers Association of Texas.

• The full list of endorsements from the Texas Association of Business includes a few notable nods and some surprises. BACPAC, the group's political arm, endorsed Mitt Romney for president, and Warren Chisum and Barry Smitherman for Railroad Commission. (Their endorsement of David Dewhurst for U.S. Senate had already been announced.) The group stuck mostly with incumbents in the congressional races where they did anything at all, and picked Randy Weber and Mike Jackson in open seats in CD-14 and CD-36, respectively. In the Senate, they crossed one incumbent, endorsing Republican Mark Shelton over Democrat Wendy Davis in the SD-10 race in Tarrant County. They picked Charles Schwertner of Georgetown, Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills and Larry Taylor of Friendswood in open seats (and skipped Ken Paxton of McKinney, who's unopposed in the GOP primary in another open seat). In House races, they endorsed former Rep. Tommy Merritt of Longview over incumbent David Simpson, and Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton over James White in a GOP primary with two incumbents.

Craig Goldman got an endorsement from former Fort Worth Mayor Bob Bolen in the HD-97 open seat race.

Alice Walton, a Wal-Mart heiress who lives in Texas, endorsed Craig James in the U.S. Senate race.

• Dallas County Commissioner Maureen Dickey endorsed former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who's in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

• Former Texas GOP Chairman Tom Pauken endorsed Dr. Steve Nguyen in the GOP primary in HD-115 where Rep. Jim Jackson, R-Dallas, is retiring. Dallas County Commissioner Mike Cantrell endorsed Bennett Ratliff in that contest. Dickey already endorsed him, as did Jackson, who was a commissioner before running for the House.

Scott Turner, running in HD-33 in Collin County, got an endorsement from the Texas Right to Life PAC.

Tony Dale, a Republican running in Williamson County's HD-136, got a nod from the Texas Home School Coalition PAC.

• Rep. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, got an endorsement for his state Senate bid from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.

Jim Herblin, challenging state Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, got an endorsement from former state Rep. Elvira Reyna, R-Mesquite. On the other side of that race, Estes got an endorsement from Attorney General Greg Abbott.

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