Updated, 5:47 p.m.:
Houston Public Media has switched out the hosts of next week's U.S. Senate candidate forum following complaints that one of the original hosts was connected to a Super PAC supporting Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
Former Harris County Republican Party chairman Gary Polland was slated to co-host "Conversations with the Candidates," a two-hour televised event featuring both Republicans and Democrats running for U.S. Senate. Earlier today, a Super PAC supporting Dewhurst and co-founded by Polland released an ad critical of former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz.
Following a complaint by Leppert, Houston Public Media quickly announced that the event will now be hosted by Houston public media personalities.
Leppert campaign spokesman Daniel Keylin said Leppert was prepared to not attend the event if Polland remained part of it.
Updated, 5:05 p.m.:
A new ad from a Super PAC supporting Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's bid for U.S. Senate has prompted howls of outrage from former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and could impact a televised candidate forum planned for next week.
The 30-second spot from the Conservative Renewal PAC claims both Leppert and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz are "too liberal for Texas." Leppert's campaign described as false the ad's allegations that Leppert pledged to make Dallas a sanctuary city and supported “Big Labor and their anti-business, pro-Obama agenda."
Leppert’s campaign said it asked Time Warner Cable and Comcast to immediately stop airing the ad due to “false statements and deceitful allegations.”
Former Harris County Republican Party chairman Gary Polland, one of the founders of the Conservative Renewal PAC, is scheduled to be one of the moderaters at a candidate forum Thursday co-hosted by public TV and radio in Houston. Leppert’s campaign said it has asked HoustonPBS to remove Polland from the program.
“HoustonPBS and Gary Polland should be embarrassed for presenting ‘The Conversation With The Candidates’ as an impartial event even as Gary Polland spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to air false and baseless ads against Tom, one of the event’s participating candidates,” the campaign said in a statement.
Polland said Friday that he doesn’t let his personal leanings get in the way of his public television work. Leppert, along with Dewhurst and Cruz, have all previously been interviewed by Polland on a PBS program and were treated fairly, Polland said.
“When they show up next week, they’ll all be treated fairly again,” he said.
Polland also defended the ad put out by Conservative Renweal PAC.
“I didn’t write the ad," Polland said. "I didn’t produce the ad but the ad is factual."
Lawyers for Conservative Renewal PAC have also written to some television station managers defending the ad and urging them to ignore the Leppert campaign’s request, according to Polland.
The ad war continued to heat up Friday in the Republican race for U.S. Senate.
Following Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's release of ads attacking former State Solicitor General Ted Cruz for his work involving a Chinese company, a pro-Dewhurst PAC released a new TV ad today attacking both Cruz and former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert.
The ad is from Conservative Renewal PAC. The 30-second spot, called "Friends in Washington," claims both Leppert and Cruz are "too liberal for Texas." The ad will start airing today in "major media markets across Texas," according to the group.
The Cruz campaign also issued a new radio ad, called "Circus," which hits back at Dewhurst's recent attacks.
"It's a classic Dewhurst distraction," the announcer in the ad says. "Distort Cruz's record and hope we'll care more about Chinese mining tires than Dewhurst's tax-and-spend record."