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The Brief: June 15, 2012

A debate over debates has taken hold in the U.S. Senate race.

U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz talking with Sherri Heinzman, a supporter of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, on June 8, 2012.

The Big Conversation:

A debate over debates has taken hold in the U.S. Senate race.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz, who recently traded barbs over whether they might debate in Spanish before the July 31 runoff, have accepted invitations to two debates in Dallas, one on June 22 hosted by KERA and the other on July 17 hosted by WFAA.

Dewhurst has indicated that he'd accept additional invitations, but only to televised events. On Thursday, as the Tribune's Aman Batheja reports, Dewhurst said he would prefer to face off with Cruz in a "public forum," adding, "I think it creates a huge and clear contrast between a lifelong successful businessman who’s taken his business skills and helped make Texas, along with Gov. Perry, the best state economy in the country … and my opponent."

But Cruz has accused Dewhurst of dodging other offers. "Dewhurst limiting to TV is a further symptom of his grassroots problem," said Cruz spokesman James Bernsen. Cruz also spent months before the May 29 primary hitting Dewhurst for skipping forums hosted by local Republican groups.

Now, the Grassroots Texans Network, a coalition of Tea Party groups, has offered to host several debates of its own. Katrina Pierson, a spokeswoman for the organization, said the forums would be held in front of an audience and that some members of the group are trying to partner with local TV stations to televise an event.

Cruz has accepted the offer, but Dewhurst has declined — perhaps unsurprisingly, given that members of Grassroots Texans' leadership, including Pierson, have expressed support for Cruz. Pierson herself was at the middle of a debate this week for her involvement in a Twitter war over a Dewhurst campaign video.

Culled:

  • Tom Suehs, who has headed the state's Health and Human Services Commission since 2009, announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of August. Suehs' announcement follows news of the impending departure of Billy Millwee, the state's Medicaid chief, in August, leaving a large leadership void at the top of the state's huge health agency, which has recently faced challenges on several fronts.
  • Gov. Rick Perry has thrown his support behind Ed Martin, a Republican running for attorney general in Missouri. Perry will attend a rally for Martin in Cape Girardeau on June 29, according to The Associated Press.
  • Mary Gonzalez, who is openly gay, and Beto O'Rourke, who has previously advocated for ending the prohibition of marijuana, won primary races in El Paso last month. Do those wins signal that El Paso has become more progressive? Even the candidates acknowledge that it's more complicated than that, as the Tribune's Julián Aguilar reports.

“If we do not have the necessary workforce, our agricultural economy suffers." — Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, a Republican, to the San Antonio Express-News on a new proposal from him and 15 other U.S. agriculture commissioners calling for a path to “conditional status” for illegal immigrants

Must-Read:

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