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The Brief: June 22, 2012

As Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst prepare for their first head-to-head debate, talk has turned from how they'd fix Washington to how long they'd stay once they got there.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst at a TribLive event on Nov. 17, 2011, in Austin.

The Big Conversation:

As Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst prepare for their first head-to-head debate, talk has turned from how they'd fix Washington to how long they'd stay once they got there.

On Thursday, Dewhurst, who will participate in an hour-long debate with Cruz tonight in Dallas at the studios of PBS affiliate KERA, proposed a new set of policies calling for term limits for members of Congress and cuts to congressional salaries.

Dewhurst's plan would limit senators and representatives to 12 years in office, cap their pay at $95,000 and eliminate their pensions. Former members of Congress would also be banned from lobbying.

“We need to blow up politics as usual in Washington, D.C.,” Dewhurst said in a statement announcing the plan.

Last week, Dewhurst said he would step down after two terms if elected, while Cruz's campaign indicated that he was only interested in a term-limit cap that would apply to all members of Congress, as The Dallas Morning News reported.

The Cruz campaign on Thursday dismissed Dewhurst's proposal. "This is the same David Dewhurst whose first act as lieutenant governor was to hire a corporate lobbyist and former elected Democrat as his chief of staff with $12,000 a month from taxpayers, and who has pocketed nearly $850,000 from lobbyists as a Senate candidate," said Cruz spokesman James Bernsen, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The Tribune is a partner in tonight's debate, the first of two scheduled forums before the July 31 runoff. Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey will be among the journalists asking the candidates questions during the event, which will air live at 8 p.m. on KERA and stream live on the Tribune's home page.

Culled:

  • After a previously reported swing through San Antonio on July 17, President Barack Obama will visit Austin the same day to attend two fundraising events, the Austin American-Statesman reported Thursday.
  • As the Tribune's Ross Ramsey writes today, the state's May 29 primary attracted only about 16 percent of registered voters, but an even starker turnout statistic befell 18 of the state's 254 counties: In the presidential race, 13 counties didn't record any Democratic votes, and five counties didn't record any Republican votes.
  • The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state's grid operator, has predicted record June demand next week. With temperatures expected to soar past 100 degrees in some parts of the state, ERCOT said peak-hour consumption could top 66,000 megawatts on Monday, setting a new June record, Reuters reports. Chances of rolling blackouts, though, appear slim.

"It’s unfortunate that we have a member of Congress who won’t really participate meaningfully in that debate." — State Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, on U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco, R-San Antonio, who hasn't responded to interview requests on President Obama's plan to suspend deportation for some young illegal immigrants, according to The Dallas Morning News

Must-Read:

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