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The Brief: Feb. 3, 2014

The Tribune's Jay Root has the story on another secret audio recording released with the intent to impact the already contentious gubernatorial contest.

Texas Attorney General and candidate for Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott gives keynote speech during the Texas Rally for Life on January 25th, 2014

The Big Conversation

The Tribune's Jay Root has the story on another secret audio recording released with the intent to impact the already contentious gubernatorial contest. This time, the recording is of GOP candidate Greg Abbott and what Democrats are saying is an attempt to have it both ways — trying to distance himself publicly from criticisms on social media of his Democratic opponent, Wendy Davis, while fanning the flame in closed-door meetings.

“We’re going to heat up this campaign, and it’s going to turn red hot as we keep Texas red," Abbott said on Jan. 21 at a fundraiser in Wimberley. "If anyone follows Twitter, you’ve seen an interesting conversation over the past 24 hours. We’re going to keep that conversation up for nine months.” (Click here to download the audio.)

Root added, "At the time of Abbott's remarks at the fundraiser, questions about Davis’ background — and whether she had exaggerated her rags-to-riches tale — were rocking the Twittersphere and garnering national headlines. Davis acknowledged getting some details wrong about her biography, including her age at the time she divorced. She was 21, not 19, as she had previously said."

An Abbott spokesman denied that the candidate was referring to the controversy kicked up by the Dallas Morning News article but rather to the national attention being paid to the race. Davis' supporters were having none of that explanation. The Lone Star Project grabbed the audio of Abbott's remarks, and the Democratic group's head, Matt Angle, told Root, “There’s no question they’re pushing it, but they’re doing it in a away that gives them some deniability.”

The Day Ahead

•    Today is the last day to register to vote for the March 4 primary elections.

•    Today is the deadline for campaigns to file their 30-day out campaign finance reports.

Today in the Trib

Numbers Are Nice, but It's Money That Matters: "Looking for income disparity? Look at the Texas campaign finance reports, where contributions from big donors outstrip the contributions from thousands of small ones."

Hearing to Look at DNA Evidence in Skinner Case: "After more than a decade of fighting for DNA tests and two years of analysis on decades-old evidence, a court in Pampa will finally hear evidence that death row inmate Hank Skinner says should stop his execution."

Lawmakers Suggest Revisiting Policy on Eight-Liners: "After a crackdown a few years ago in Laredo, gaming halls are on the rise again. But local officials are of mixed opinion about whether to enforce the gambling laws or try to change them."

Anti-Regulation Politics May Have Hurt Energy Industry: "Texas' refusal to issue required greenhouse permits for almost two years may have hurt business. Energy companies say they have been unable to take advantage of the area's shale boom."


Fikac: Struggling Davis campaign plans changes, San Antonio Express-News

GOP primary voters rule Texas simply by showing up, Houston Chronicle

Texas Republicans Vying for Lieutenant Governor Lean Heavily Right, The New York Times

Republicans dominate campaign fundraising in Texas, The Associated Press

Deconstructing James O’Keefe’s Battleground Texas video, Austin American-Statesman

Meet the man who controls Texas’ $2 billion water kitty, Austin American-Statesman

Is startup investing too risky for Texas taxpayers?, Austin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

“This campaign is committing a lot of unforced errors. She has to start worrying that if she continues to have these types of campaign missteps, that donors as well as voters are going to begin to lose faith in the campaign.”

— Rice University political scientist Mark P. Jones on the problems within the Wendy Davis campaign

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, candidate for lieutenant governor, at the Austin Club, 2/6

•    Sen. Kel Seliger and Reps. John Smithee and Four Price at West Texas A&M in Canyon, 2/7

•    Reps. Joe Deshotel and Allan Ritter at Lamar University in Beaumont, 2/19

•    Texas Tribune Festival On the Road at The University of Texas El Paso for a daylong symposium on demographic change, 2/27

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21

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Explore related story topics

Politics Dan Patrick David Dewhurst Four Price Greg Abbott John Smithee Kel Seliger Rick Perry Ted Cruz Wendy Davis