The Big Conversation:
The national profile of Texas' U.S. Senate race hit new heights on Thursday.
The action started Wednesday, when the Ted Cruz-supporting Club for Growth — a national conservative group that helped defeat longtime U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar in the Indiana GOP primary this week — announced that it would target Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst with a $1 million ad buy. The same day, Bill Kristol of the conservative Weekly Standard deemed Dewhurst the next establishment Republican who could potentially fall to an insurgent conservative — in this case, Cruz.
On Thursday, popular conservatives Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee jumped into the fray.
Cruz scored Palin's endorsement Thursday morning. Both Palin and her husband, Todd, voiced their support for the former state solicitor general, saying in a letter: “Your conservative principles, passionate defense of our Constitution and our free market system come at a time when these cornerstones of our freedom and prosperity are under attack. Our shared goal isn’t just to change the majority in control of the Senate, but to assure principled conservatives like you are there to fight for us.”
Cruz said he was "humbled and honored" by the endorsement. John Drogin, Cruz's campaign manager, told Yahoo News that "phones are ringing, online contributions are pouring in, and supporters are more excited than ever on our social networks."
Meanwhile, the Dewhurst campaign unveiled a new ad in which Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, touts Dewhurst's anti-abortion record. "David’s conservative leadership helped Texas pass more pro-life legislation than any state in America," Huckabee says in the ad, which the campaign said would air in select markets. "And David stood with taxpayers, cut spending and cut taxes. There’s only one proven conservative in this race for Senate, so stand with him."
Huckabee also appeared in one of Dewhurst's ads in January.
- University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, in response to a Texas Monthly report claiming that UT-Austin President Bill Powers' job might be in jeopardy because of his opposition to a tuition freeze, said Thursday that the chairman of the system's board of regents never directed him to fire anyone. The report, meanwhile, quickly sparked an outpouring of support for Powers on Twitter and Facebook, where an "I Stand With Bill Powers" page now claims more than 10,500 members.
- The race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Ron Paul has turned into a veritable free-for-all, with nine Republicans among 11 major-party candidates running to replace the 12-term congressman. And as the Tribune's Jay Root reports, despite Paul's undeniable imprint on the district, the candidates aren't rushing to model themselves after Paul. “I don’t get a sense that people are looking for the next Ron Paul,” said Jay Old, the top fundraiser in the crowded field.
- State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, who made headlines this week for his involvement in a vicious email exchange with fellow Republican Sen. John Corona of Dallas, talked with the Tribune's Evan Smith on Thursday about highly public incident, as well as "turning things upside down" in the state's public education system.
“I don't think is this about getting re-elected. This is about what is morally right.” — San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to the San Antonio Express-News on President Barack Obama's recent endorsement of gay marriage
- Former society reporter who moonlighted as stripper sues Houston Chronicle, KHOU-TV
- Austin adds 10 miles to proposed urban rail system, Austin American-Statesman
- Bashing the Candidates With Their Own Names, The Texas Tribune