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The Brief: July 17, 2013

Attorney General Greg Abbott's debut week on the gubernatorial campaign trail has revealed how he may seek to distinguish himself from Gov. Rick Perry.

Greg Abbott at a campaign event at the Ben Franklin Apothecary in Duncanville on July 16, 2013.

The Big Conversation

Attorney General Greg Abbott's debut week on the gubernatorial campaign trail has revealed how he may seek to distinguish himself from Gov. Rick Perry.

Abbott on Tuesday continued his five-day, 10-city tour of Texas, which he embarked upon after announcing his gubernatorial bid on Sunday in San Antonio.

At an event on Tuesday in Duncanville, a Dallas suburb where Abbott attended high school, the long-serving attorney general and front-runner to succeed Perry said that as governor, he would work to serve ordinary Texans.

"When it comes to the people of Texas, I will never stop fighting," Abbott told the crowd of about 350, according to The Dallas Morning News. "People on Main Street deserve the benefit just as much as people on Wall Street."

Though the candidate's tour through Texas — which has included stops in Houston and McAllen — has incited little political drama, some of Abbott's comments this week have offered a peek at how he plans to differentiate himself from Perry, the longest-serving governor in the state's history.

In an interview with the Tribune's Jay Root on Monday, Abbott said he and Perry had become "close friends and allies" who over the years had fought "side by side." But Abbott noted that he had twice pushed back against Perry on transparency-related issues involving documents that the governor's office tried to keep private.

"I’m the one that required Gov. Perry to disclose the Trans-Texas Corridor documents," Abbott said. "I’m the one that required Gov. Perry to disclose his budget documents."

In speeches, Abbott has also hinted at his opposition to taxpayer-funded incentives for businesses, of which Perry has long been a strong supporter. 

Abbott's most noteworthy comments about Perry, however, did not concern policy differences but rather Perry's assertion earlier this year that Abbott had told him that he wouldn't run for governor if Perry sought re-election. On Monday, Abbott said no such deal was made.

"He said I wouldn’t run against him. He may have known all along he wasn’t going to run," he said. "We didn’t have any handshake deal or anything like that."

Abbott will continue his tour today in Lubbock and Midland.

Culled

•    Filings show Sen. Davis dropped big bucks for redistricting fight (San Antonio Express-News): "Sen. Wendy Davis, fresh off declaring victory in a redistricting battle with Attorney General Greg Abbott, has spent almost $200,000 in campaign cash to defend her Senate district from being retooled by state Republicans, records show. … According to Davis’ most recent campaign finance report, she made payments between February and April totaling $60,000 to prominent redistricting lawyer Gerry Hebert, a former voting rights official at the Department of Justice. … In the last two years, she’s also doled out roughly $125,000 from her campaign coffers to Democratic consultants for redistricting advice, according to campaign finance reports dating back to 2011."

•    San Antonio judge to hear Perry coercion complaint (San Antonio Express-News): "A San Antonio judge on Tuesday was assigned to hear a complaint that alleges Gov. Rick Perry committed coercion, bribery and official oppression by vetoing funding for the Travis County District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit. Senior Judge Robert Richardson of the 379th District Court will hear the complaint, which was filed by Texans for Public Justice after the Austin American-Statesman reported that Perry threatened to veto funding for the unit unless embattled Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned."

•    FreedomWorks denies John Cornyn portrayal (Politico): "Sen. John Cornyn’s reelection campaign is under fire from the conservative group FreedomWorks over its portrayal of new campaign manager Brendan Steinhauser’s past work for the group. The Texas Republican’s campaign announced earlier this month that it had hired Steinhauser, touting that in his former role as director of campaigns for FreedomWorks, he had 'led the group’s effort to elect Ted Cruz to the Senate in 2012' and 'also led grassroots campaigns to help elect Senators Marco Rubio, Mike Lee and Pat Toomey.'"

•    Rand Paul, Ted Cruz set off GOP scramble on sex assault (Politico): "Senate Republicans scrambled for cover Tuesday after Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz partnered with a budding bipartisan coalition pushing the Pentagon to overhaul how it handles military sexual assault cases. GOP lawmakers said they planned to quickly schedule a closed-door conference meeting to hear out the two tea party firebrands on their decision to cosponsor legislation removing the chain of command from military prosecutions, a measure the Pentagon opposes."

Quote to Note: "As long as the Democrats continue to buy into the same bullshit that some of the Republicans are saying — 'Oh no, it's Texas, it’s hopeless' — and continue to act like it won’t happen for six, eight, twelve, sixteen years from now, that perpetuates the problem." — State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, a month before her now-famous filibuster, quoted in Texas Monthly

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