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Of Candidates and the Races They Left Open

It’s been more than a week since Steve Stockman dropped his re-election bid for Congress to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. But he’s still the talk of the political world.

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It’s been more than a week since Steve Stockman dropped his re-election bid for Congress to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. But he’s still the talk of the political world.

There were attempts, though, to squash talk of Stockman making the primary competitive. In one noted example, Cornyn received a friendly incumbent endorsement from the National Rifle Association. The nod here to Cornyn is not all that surprising. But it is a blow to Stockman, who makes gun rights a key part of his appeal to grassroots conservatives.

Stockman also would like to invite comparisons between himself and Ted Cruz, a conservative insurgent who rode Tea Party popularity to an unexpected win over a mainstream Republican. So it was significant that Cruz’s pollster took it upon himself to release a survey showing Cornyn up big on Stockman. The phone poll of likely Republican primary voters showed Cornyn with 50 percent support and Stockman with 6 percent.

Stockman, meanwhile, fired back, targeting a pro-Cornyn group that is devoting its resources to attacking the challenger through a website, Facebook and Twitter campaign. The group, Texans for a Conservative Majority PAC, was seeded with a $2 million contribution from the now deceased Bob Perry. Stockman did not identify Perry by name but put a letter on his website decrying the “shady amnesty cash” backing Cornyn. 

Meanwhile, the Republican field in Stockman’s CD-36 has now been finalized. Six candidates took advantage of an extended filing deadline — spurred by Stockman's late withdrawal — to jump into the race. Late entrants included Ben Streusand and John Manlove. An even dozen are now competing for the nomination in the open seat.

In the already hot gubernatorial race between Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis, the Democrat’s campaign sought to highlight seemingly noncommittal responses from Abbott on issues such as this statement to the Odessa American on whether a lizard protection plan was working as intended: “I can’t say that it is,” he said. “And I won’t say that it’s not.”

The Abbott campaign accused Davis of relying on “the same, repeated, and worn out attacks” and invited Davis “to offer positive contributions to enhance the discussion.”

There was movement as well in the race to succeed Davis in the state Senate. Democrats are trying to find a candidate in the Fort Worth-based SD-10 that can be successful in that swing district. Five former leaders of the Tarrant County Democratic Party don’t think Fort Worth attorney George Boll is that candidate. They called on him to leave the race, citing his past record of voting in Republican primaries.

Boll, though, has defended his voting history, saying that Tarrant County Democrats often must “cross over” and that he was no less a Democrat for doing so. He pointed out that Davis has a history of voting in Republican primaries, too.

And in one final bit of news, the March primaries will be held under a new state elections official. That’s because Secretary of State John Steen announced last Friday that he’s stepping down in early January.

Gov. Rick Perry announced on Thursday that he was naming Nandita Berry, a University of Houston regent and wife to radio talk show host Michael Berry, as Texas’ new secretary of state. She first came to the United States at the age of 21 "with nothing but $200 to her name," according to the press release announcing her appointment. Now she becomes the state’s first Indian-American to hold the post.

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