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Analysis: Endorsements That Aren't Endorsements

If it's missing the "e" word, it's probably not an endorsement. Even if it really looks like one.

In full campaign mode Texas candidate for Attorney General Barry Smitherman tells the audience why he believes he'd make a good AG during a campaign stop at the Harris County Courthouse Bay Area Annex in Houston on Nov. 19, 2013.

This non-endorsement thing is getting around. First, Ted Cruz announced that he won’t be endorsing anyone — that was the answer when he declined to endorse fellow U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. Then he went and said some nice things about other candidates, like Ken Paxton and Katrina Pierson, without using the “e” word. And then, via Twitter, he endorsed the incumbents on the Texas Supreme Court who are seeking re-election in contested primaries.

But this isn’t about Cruz. His remarks about Paxton have been rolled artfully into a television ad for the Republican attorney general candidate that would be hard to mistake for anything but an endorsement.

And now comes Barry Smitherman, who is in the same race, with a Facebook post quoting Gov. Rick Perry, apparently from two years ago, when Smitherman was running for Railroad Commission after Perry appointed him to that agency. It’s also got a more recent picture of the two standing side by side.

Smitherman didn’t actually say it is an endorsement, though it makes Perry look like a supporter. “SHARE to let others know of Governor Perry's thoughts!” Smitherman wrote in the Facebook post.

Perry is staying out of the primary for attorney general, which features three Republican state officeholders. “The governor hasn’t endorsed in this race,” said Mark Miner. “There are thousands of photos of the governor and other political figures around the state.” 

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