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The Brief: April 16, 2014

Playing to the base trumped any middle ground in a hotly anticipated clash between two rising stars in their respective parties.

Mayor Julian Castro and Sen. Dan Patrick shake cordially after their San Antonio debate on April 15, 2014.

The Big Conversation

One man made the difficult decision to call a winner in Tuesday night's debate on immigration between Julián Castro and Dan Patrick. That man was Patrick, who said in a statement afterward, “This wasn’t about winning or losing, but I do feel that I won in San Antonio tonight because I got to discuss one of the most pressing public policy issues in our state."

Other observers weren't so sure about whether there were any obvious winners. The Austin American-Statesman's Tim Eaton said the encounter "allowed both Castro and Patrick to meet goals they set out to accomplish," as Castro attempted to bring up Patrick's incendiary rhetoric on immigration and Patrick tried to inject abortion into the discussion.

The Dallas Morning News' Terry Stutz said the two men "frequently took potshots at each other. Each accused the other of being a demagogue on the issue and misrepresenting the other’s positions." The debate, Stutz wrote, illustrated "the deep divisions between their political supporters on the volatile issue."

The Associated Press put it more simply: "There was no new ground staked out by the antagonists."

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who became the forgotten man in the run-up to the debate, wasn't ready to call a winner, but he was prepared to call a loser. "Texans understand the importance of securing the border, but were subjected to an hour of name calling and wild tangents," Dewhurst political director Chris Bryan said in a statement. "There were no winners in tonight’s ‘debate,’ but the clear losers were the people of Texas.”

The Day Ahead

•    Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher is the keynote speaker at the "Texas at a Turning Point" economics summit presented by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. The event at the Sheraton Austin Hotel will last all morning and includes a luncheon.

•    The Charles Koch Institute is sponsoring a panel discussion on criminal justice reform featuring Texas NAACP President Gary Bledsoe, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and Marc Levin of the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Right on Crime initiative. The 6:30 p.m. event takes place at the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel.

•    The Texas Lottery Commission meets at 10 a.m. On the agenda is a proposal to change the rules governing charitable bingo to allow electronic devices that critics say are too close in appearance to slot machines.

Today in the Trib

Court Thwarts Sierra Club's Radioactive Waste Challenge: "A state appeals court has thwarted a challenge to a low-level radioactive waste disposal site in West Texas in a ruling that signals growing difficulties for those trying to scrutinize the decisions of Texas' environmental regulators."

Fort Hood Shooting Sparks Debate on Soldiers Concealed Guns: "Two separate rampage shootings within five years at Killeen’s Fort Hood Army base have sparked renewed discussion over whether those on military bases in Texas should be able to carry concealed handguns."

Advocates Urge Perry to Ban Tasers in Schools: "After a Round Rock school police officer used a Taser to stop a fight Monday, some Texas youth advocates are urging Gov. Rick Perry to ban Tasers and pepper spray in public schools."


Wendy Davis will have neck surgery, San Antonio Express-News

Greg Abbott releases tax return, pays 14% on a portion of income, The Dallas Morning News 

Poll: Greg Abbott holds double-digit lead over Wendy Davis, Austin American-Statesman

Texas Twins Campaign, but They Aren’t Sure for What, The New York Times

Ted Cruz faces 2016 skeptics in South Carolina, Politico

Kennedy: Former opponent Madrigal to help with Davis’ South Texas troubles, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

David Dewhurst makes surprise visit to Texas Retired Teachers Association confab, The Dallas Morning News

UT decides Longhorns have been pranked, will rip out maroon bluebonnets, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"Four-year-olds should be coloring with crayons and not filling in bubbles with a No. 2 pencil."

— Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis, criticizing in a speech to members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association what she calls a proposal by her GOP rival Greg Abbott to introduce standardized testing for pre-K students. The Abbott campaign calls the characterization false.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Mike Collier, Candidate for State Comptroller at the Austin Club, 4/17

•    Slate's Live Political Gabfest in Austin at Scholz Garten, 4/23

•    A Panel Discussion on Keeping the Lights on in Texas at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, 4/29

•    The Texas Tribune Festival On the Road presents a one-day symposium on STEM Education at UT-Dallas, 5/5

•    A Conversation With Rep. Dan Branch, Candidate for Attorney General at the Austin Club, 5/8

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

•    A Conversation With Steve Patterson, UT Men's Athletic Director at the Austin Club, 5/15

•    A Conversation With Sen. Glenn Hegar, Candidate for State Comptroller at the Austin Club, 5/29

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

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Politics Dan Patrick David Dewhurst Greg Abbott Joaquin Castro Julián Castro Rick Perry Ted Cruz Wendy Davis