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The Evening Brief: Dec. 13, 2013

Your evening reading: new numbers and analysis on the Cornyn-Stockman primary contest; Texplainer explains the AG's duty to defend state laws; ex-El Paso County commissioner gets probation in corruption case

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New in The Texas Tribune

•    Stockman, Cornyn Race May Be Tea Party Test: "Now we may have a nice, clean test case for the 'big or merely loud' conversation about the insurgents in the Texas Republican Party. If they’re big, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn is in trouble."

•    Perry Assembles Red River Boundary Commission: "Gov. Rick Perry on Friday announced his appointments to the five-member Red River Boundary Commission, which is tasked with resolving confusion surrounding Texas' border with Oklahoma."

•    If the Sun Salutation Has to Fit Into a Cell: "For the inmates, the weekly two-hour sessions offer a reprieve from their cells and the boredom of prison life, along with physical and mental health benefits. And the Powledge chaplain said corrections officers saw better behavior from inmates who took part in spiritual programs that teach morals and gave them a chance to exercise."

•    Texplainer: Is the AG Required to Defend a State Law?: "The Texas Constitution charges the attorney general, the state's top lawyer, with defending state laws and the state’s constitution. The attorney general is also charged with representing the state in litigation that challenges state laws or in lawsuits against state agencies or state employees, according to the attorney general's office website."


•    Texas Senate primary race poll 2014: John Cornyn way up on Steve Stockman (Politico): "Texas Sen. John Cornyn starts out his 2014 primary fight a whopping 44 points ahead of his most prominent conservative challenger, Rep. Steve Stockman, according to private GOP polling obtained by POLITICO. In a survey conducted by the Republican firm Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research, Cornyn held a wide advantage over Stockman, leading 50 percent to 6 percent. Other candidates took 5 percent of the vote, and 39 percent of those surveyed were undecided."

•    Why a Stockman Challenge Is Good For Cornyn (Texas Monthly): "This is, for Cornyn, a best-case scenario. For months, conservative activists have been grumbling about his supposed moderation, and warning that he could be vulnerable to a serious primary challenge. Now he has one. There is little danger that Stockman will win, but by entering the race, he has effectively precluded any additional challenge from the right."

•    Stockman steps forward as Republicans step back (The Washington Post): "But Cornyn, a former Texas attorney general, is no liberal; he notes with pride that National Journal ranked him the second-most conservative senator last year. The difference between incumbent and challenger is character: Cornyn has it, Stockman is one. That the Club for Growth can recognize the difference is reason for hope."

•    Court grants lawyer’s request to search for more racist emails (Austin American-Statesman): "Believing the offensive emails that initially surfaced represent only a small portion of racist notes sent through TWIA’s computer system, Mostyn asked a judge in South Texas to approve a second request for documents. Mostyn has asked for emails containing racist epithets and several ethnic descriptors. Lawyers for the association objected to Mostyn’s request, calling it irrelevant and part of a 'fishing expedition,' according to legal documents."

•    Hilderbran vows to bring back comptroller’s efficiency drives (The Dallas Morning News): "Rep. Harvey Hilderbran says if he’s elected comptroller, he will reinvigorate the 'performance reviews' started by former Comptroller John Sharp in the 1990s. Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, plans to announce Friday he’ll do more frequent examinations of how to save money than are being done now by the Legislative Budget Board."

•    Ex-El Paso County commissioner Betti Flores gets 5 years probation in public corruption case (El Paso Times): "Two public officials accused of betraying the community's trust in the city's sprawling public corruption scandal each received lenient sentences Friday after a federal prosecutor lauded their cooperation with the FBI's investigation."

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