The Big Conversation:
Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst both got to enjoy brief spells of good news on Thursday — right before the ad wars flared again.
A Public Policy Polling survey released Thursday showed Dewhurst with 46 percent of the vote — 4 points away from the 50 percent he'd need to avoid a runoff. The poll showed Ted Cruz at 29 percent and Tom Leppert at 15 percent.
Even better for Dewhurst, the poll found that Dewhurst would lead Cruz in a runoff 59 percent to 34 percent, scooping up most of Leppert's voters.
A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released Monday showed the race much closer, with Dewhurst at 40 percent and Cruz at 31 percent.
But Cruz also got a boost of his own on Thursday: the endorsement of former presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
"We need someone who has the wow factor, who can go out there in front of the media, go out there on the floor of the United States Senate and deliver a strong and passionate message," Santorum told a Houston radio show, adding, “We’re working on trying to get down there, but if not, I’m going to be on the phone and doing whatever I can to influence the election from outside the state."
Hours later, though, The Dallas Morning News reported that Dewhurst — who earlier in the day released his final TV ad, a positive spot featuring Mike Huckabee — had launched another broadside against Cruz, this time a radio ad tying Cruz to amnesty for illegal immigrants. "Cruz helps run two national organizations that have been leading the push to give amnesty to illegal immigrants," a voice says in the ad, for which a Dewhurst spokesman told the Morning News the campaign had made a "significant buy."
Cruz strategist Jason Johnson called the ad a desperate move. Dewhurst "is a shameless, desperate and sad career politician so hooked on power that he thinks Texans are stupid enough to believe that the same Ted Cruz who successfully defended Texas' right to execute an illegal alien for raping and murdering two teenage girls is somehow soft on illegal immigration," Johnson said.
- According to Paul Burka at Texas Monthly, turnout for the state's primaries could reach 1.5 million, a relatively high number that could bode well for David Dewhurst. (Early voting, by the way, ends today.)
- David Dewhurst started out as the front-runner in the U.S. Senate race, and it's still likely his race to lose. But with a runoff now a definite possibility, what happens if he actually does lose? As the Tribune's Ross Ramsey writes, it would spoil a whole lot of ambitions — not just Dewhurst's.
- At a TribLive event on Thursday, state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, defended his now-infamous comments in his recent heated exchange with Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston; explained why he has hosted fundraisers for Democrats; and discussed his opposition to Gov. Rick Perry's anti-tax pledge, which he called "disrespectful" to the "adults" in the Legislature.
"All these attacks from outside groups, and what Ted Cruz’s campaign has been based on, is basically attacking Gov. Perry’s record. They’re shooting right through Dewhurst, to him. It’s attacking all the work conservatives around the state have done for the last nine years." — Dave Carney, a top adviser to Dewhurst and longtime consultant for Perry, to Politico on the U.S. Senate race
- Trials and Errors, Texas Monthly
- Southwest and United Clash in the Battle of Houston, Slate
- After 10 Years in Qatar, A&M is Ready for 10 More, The Texas Tribune