The Brief: Abbott Choice of Traveling Companion Draws Fire

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

Greg Abbott starts off the early voting period today on the road plugging his get-out-the-vote effort. But it's the presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee's choice of Ted Nugent to join him that is sparking headlines.

The Houston Chronicle's Peggy Fikac led her write-up of the Nugent-Abbott twin bill with this: "Democrats criticized Attorney General Greg Abbott's decision to showcase Ted Nugent at Tuesday stops in his GOP campaign for governor, citing the rocker's incendiary comments about President Barack Obama, women politicians and immigrants." The Dallas Morning News' Christy Hoppe added that Nugent has made statements in the past that he had "affairs with several underage girls," juxtaposing that with Abbott's efforts to crack down on "predators who go online seeking young women."

If the Abbott camp is concerned about criticism of Nugent, it wasn't showing it in statements issued Monday. Instead, it highlighted his support of the Second Amendment and other constitutional freedoms. "Nugent suggested that the criticism from Democrats comes from 'people who hate freedom,'" Fikac wrote. "'When they hate me, it truly is a badge of honor,' he said, calling himself someone 'who is solidly in the asset column of America.'"

The Day Ahead

•    Early voting begins for the March party primary elections and runs through Feb. 28. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis plans to cast her vote at 9:30 a.m. in her hometown of Fort Worth. GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott kicks off a get-out-the-vote tour with stops in Denton and Wichita Falls. Joining him Tuesday is controversial rocker Ted Nugent. In partnership with WFAA in Dallas, the Tribune will stream live coverage of the 11:25 a.m. Denton event.

•    The two GOP candidates vying for the nomination in the Tarrant County-based House District 92 — incumbent Jonathan Stickland and challenger Andy Cargile — square off in a debate Tuesday night in the Hurst Conference Center.

Today in the Trib

Primary Candidates' Personal Financial Statements: "With early voting now underway, click on the candidates in our 2014 primary election brackets to find a quick link to their directory pages, which have been updated to include their 2013 personal financial statements."

Ethics Debate Swirls in Railroad Commission Race: "Ryan Sitton, a Republican candidate for railroad commissioner, says that if elected, he would remain involved with his company, which consults with some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies. Some of his opponents have raised concerns."

Abbott Takes Heat for Nugent Invite: "When news broke that Greg Abbott, the Republican frontrunner for governor, would be appearing at a campaign stop in North Texas with Ted Nugent, the self-proclaimed 'Madman,' the Democrats and social media erupted."

New in Texas Weekly

News App: Endorsements Explorer: "As candidates pile up endorsements from political groups and newspapers, you need a scorecard to keep up. Here you go: Filter by candidate, race or endorsing group. We'll be constantly updating this tool; if you see a hole, let us know and we'll fill it." ($)

Must-Read

Early voting on crowded ballots begins Tuesday, Houston Chronicle

Sen. Ted Cruz laughs off rift with GOP leadership at Williamson County event, Austin American-Statesman

Lieutenant governor candidate Patrick gets under foes’ skin, The Dallas Morning News

More delays ahead for Galveston public housing, Houston Chronicle

Retreat on Debt Fight Seen as G.O.P. Campaign Salvo, The New York Times

The Dark Money Man: How Sean Noble Moved the Kochs’ Cash into Politics and Made Millions, ProPublica

Quote to Note

"If you’re a Republican in Congress, you’ve learned that when we shut down the government, we lose. Now that we’ve had some success in avoiding another shutdown, our fortunes seem to be rising, so maybe we don’t want big things to happen."

— Former Minnesota Congressman Vin Weber on the "natural progression" in House Republicans' thinking

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Reps. Joe Deshotel, Allan Ritter and James White 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

•    Live Post-Primary Election TribCast at the Austin Club, 3/5

•    A Conversation With Sen. Wendy Davis, 2014 Democratic Candidate for Governor, at Stateside at the Paramount, 3/6

•    A Conversation With Sen. Charles Schwertner and Reps. John Raney and Kyle Kacal at Texas A&M University in College Station, 3/27

•    A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

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

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