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The Brief: Nov. 13, 2013

The challengers to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst so far have not been shy at hammering the incumbent for his perceived faults. On Tuesday, they laid another pressing problem of Texas Republicans at his feet — Wendy Davis.

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The Big Conversation

The challengers to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst so far have not been shy at hammering the incumbent for his perceived faults. On Tuesday, they laid another pressing problem of Texas Republicans at his feet — Wendy Davis.

As The Dallas Morning News' Gromer Jeffers reported, Dewhurst was blamed for allowing Davis' filibuster of an abortion law over the summer to turn her into a national celebrity. She is now running for governor in what could be an expensive general election campaign that is sure to draw national attention.

Those charges came during a debate in Dallas sponsored by the Texas Young Republican Federation.

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said, “This race that’s going to cost Republicans $30 [million] to $40 million should have never happened.” Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples chimed in, saying the filibuster demonstrated "failed leadership," according to Jeffers.

Dewhurst fought back against that line of attack on Tuesday, arguing that Davis would be easily defeated by Greg Abbott“Wendy Davis will have a staff job in Obama’s administration until it winds down,” Dewhurst predicted.

What this back-and-forth really demonstrates is that all four candidates for the job — Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson rounds out the quartet — view the contest as who can best convince the GOP primary voter that he is the most conservative conservative.

To that end, Dewhurst did something else Tuesday to burnish his conservative credentials — calling on Congress to investigate the National Security Agency's domestic spying program to find out if gun owners were ever targeted.

Jim Henson over at the University of Texas at Austin highlights some numbers that help explain the Dewhurst bank shot. In an October survey, the NSA was cited by 95 percent of Tea Party Republicans as a likely threat to their privacy. That intensity of feeling was not reflected to the same degree by non-Tea Party Republicans, 76 percent of whom said the NSA was a likely threat to their privacy.

Much as Ted Cruz's appearance Monday at the Greater Houston Partnership signaled his intent to broaden his base in the GOP by reaching out to the more mainstream elements of his party, Dewhurst's action on Tuesday could be seen as a base broadening exercise as well — just in the opposite direction.

Culled

•    UT System Lawyer: Hall May Have Shared Private Info (The Texas Tribune): "Hall, who has generated controversy since joining the board in 2011, is currently being investigated by the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Operations, which could file articles of impeachment against him. Among the accusations against him is that he mishandled private information. 'Of course, it’s false,' Hall’s attorney, Allan Van Fleet, said of the accusation on Tuesday. Still, the charge provided the focus for Frederick’s testimony. And she acknowledged that, in one instance, the regent was in possession of student information, which he shared with his personal attorneys, that may have been protected."

•    Sen. John Cornyn calls for halt to ACA 'navigator' program (Austin American-Statesman): "U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on Tuesday called for axing the Affordable Care Act’s 'navigator' program that uses federal dollars to pay for workers to sign people up for health insurance. Cornyn, a vocal opponent of the health insurance law, cited a video by a conservative activist attempting to show fraud by federally funded workers in North Texas."

•    North Texas wins big in DOJ settlement (The Dallas Morning News): "North Texas is a big winner in a government agreement with American Airlines and US Airways to settle antitrust issues and ensure the airline industry remains competitive and affordable for consumers. ... North Texas stands to gain more passengers as it becomes a hub for the world’s largest carrier, and it may attract new airlines. American employees are relieved. And Dallas-based Southwest Airlines could also benefit from the ability to expand here and in other cities."

•    Texas Democrats Like The Look Of A Leticia Van de Putte-Wendy Davis Ticket (KERA): "While four Republicans are battling hard in the race for lieutenant governor, Democrats are hoping to persuade a spunky Latina from San Antonio to run against them. Democratic Party leaders believe that having State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte join gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis at the top of the ticket would bring added appeal to women and Hispanic voters."

•    'I Wanted to Be Successful, and I Could Do That in Houston' (The Atlantic): "Fast-growing Houston is now the fourth largest city in the country. It rakes in money from its energy and medical industries, which in turn trickles down to the arts and restaurant scenes. While many of the cities in this series are still slowly bouncing back from the downturn with the help of enthusiastic young people, Houston was barely ever dinged."

Quote to Note: “But for them to denigrate the suffering of men and women traumatized by war — and to claim Biblical support for their callow and doltish views — is both shocking and unconscionable. Rather than downplaying the pain of PTSD, they should be asking God to heal our brothers and sisters.” — Joe Carter, of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, criticizing televangelist Kenneth Copeland and David Barton's suggestion that soldiers can get rid of post-traumatic stress disorder by believing they served in a just war. 

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