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The Brief: July 20, 2012

With early voting starting Monday, the U.S. Senate race is finally heading into the home stretch.

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The Big Conversation:

With early voting starting Monday, the U.S. Senate race is finally heading into the home stretch.

For Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, that likely means no letting up on the attacks they've been firing at each other for months.

And they'll both get yet another chance to publicly air those attacks: Both agreed Thursday to a third televised pre-runoff debate, which will be held in Houston on Monday at 6 p.m. and hosted by Fox 26 and the Tea Party-affiliated King Street Patriots.

Heading into the race's final days, expect more appeals to voters (like the one Dewhurst made to veterans on Thursday), more sniping and, yes, more ads.

Earlier this week, the Dewhurst campaign and a pro-Dewhurst Super PAC released separate ads hitting Cruz for his connections to a Pennsylvania developer involved in an infamous corruption scandal. Dewhurst and surrogates have also hit Cruz for representing a Chinese company found guilty of stealing the designs of an American businessman.

In his own recent ads, Cruz has accused Dewhurst of supporting a payroll tax. The Club for Growth, a Washington, D.C.-based conservative group, has also poured $1.5 million into the race, airing ads painting Dewhurst as a profligate spender.

And though most of the campaigns' ads have centered on Cruz's legal work and Dewhurst's legislative record, the Dewhurst campaign took a slightly new tack Thursday, releasing a new radio ad saying Cruz "lost control" during a recent appearance on a conservative radio talk show, as The Dallas Morning News reported.

Expect both candidates to revive those attacks during the debate and up until election day, on July 31. Whether either candidate will bring up the latest wrinkle in the race — that tension between the two apparently dates back to a 2009 disagreement over a legal bill — remains to be seen.

Culled:

  • Railroad Commission candidate Christi Craddick, running to replace Elizabeth Ames Jones, has won the endorsement of sitting commissioner David Porter, the Midland Reporter-Telegram reports. Several former commissioners, including Jones and Michael Williams, have already endorsed Craddick over state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, who has hit Craddick over support she has received from her father, state Rep. Tom Craddick. Chisum, meanwhile, has faced scrutiny over potential conflicts of interest.
  • A federal class-action racial profiling case against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio began Thursday. In opening statements, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said the famously tough-on-immigration sheriff discriminated against Hispanics in enforcing immigration law — the same argument the U.S. Justice Department has made in a case filed against Arpaio earlier this year. Arpaio endorsed Gov. Rick Perry during his presidential run earlier this year and was later named Perry's Arizona campaign chairman.
  • As the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw reports, Medicaid fraud officials in Texas have drawn praise for an innovative method of fraud investigation in which funding to accused health providers is sometimes frozen. But some doctors have slammed the system, saying they're given no due process.

"You follow me around the world. You see me hugging Muslims around the world, because the ones I hug are our friends." — U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who at an oversight hearing on Thursday accused Gohmert of making anti-Muslim claims

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