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The Brief: April 18, 2014

Trying to fend off his strongest challenger in years, longtime U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall is calling on his friends once again to help him raise money.

Congressman Ralph Hall waves to the crowd at Frisco 2008 community parade.

The Big Conversation

Trying to fend off his strongest challenger in years, longtime U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall is calling on his friends once again to help him raise money. A Tuesday fundraiser in Dallas will be hosted by former Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones and former Army Secretary Pete Geren, according to The Dallas Morning News' Gromer Jeffers.

The Rockwall Republican won more than 45 percent of the vote in the March primary, but his challenger, John Ratcliffe, has received attention since then for scoring prominent endorsements from conservative groups, such as the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund.

Hall has since fought back on the endorsement front. The News' Ben Kamisar reported that the incumbent had secured the endorsement of the Family Research Council Action PAC and South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, who is well liked in Tea Party circles.

The most recent fundraising filings show the two running close in campaign contributions, Kamisar reported. Hall had a $177,000 to $158,000 advantage in cash on hand entering April. Ratcliffe, though, had spent $140,000 more than the incumbent and had raised nearly twice as much — $314,477 to $176,104 — from individual donors.

Recent reports have focused on the level of support for Hall from his congressional colleagues. Fundraising reports bear out that observation. Kamisar wrote that Hall "received $19,000 directly from his colleagues’ re-election campaign committees and another $16,600 from political action committees that support the lawmakers. Since the beginning of the race, 60 percent of the delegation’s campaigns have donated to Hall."

Today in the Trib

In Power Line Dispute, Rancher Questions Wiggle Room: "After landowners sign off on power line routes, can transmission companies install them somewhere else? The Public Utility Commission is set to consider a rancher’s complaint."

Burton, Shelton Face Off in Primary Runoff Battle: "Former state Rep. Mark Shelton and Tea Party favorite Konni Burton are vying in a Republican runoff election for the state Senate seat left open by Wendy Davis. It's a swing district that both political parties are paying close attention to."

Analysis: A Betrayal Roils a Top Political Race: "Politics is full of turnarounds, double-crosses and strategic misunderstandings. But a big business group's decision to switch sides in the race for lieutenant governor was a rare exhibition of political hardball."

Texas Seizes Polygamist Group's Ranch in West Texas: "Seven years after Texas officials removed hundreds of children from their polygamist parents, state and local authorities seized the sprawling 1,700-acre Yearning For Zion Ranch this week."


Cruz visits border, decries Obamacare, The Associated Press

FBI probe of NTTA includes Wendy Davis file, Travis DA’s office says, The Dallas Morning News

At business luncheon, Dewhurst courts Hispanic vote, Houston Chronicle

State Sen. Troy Fraser threatens LCRA's reservoir project, Austin American-Statesman

Kennedy: In H-E-B schools, it’s not Good Friday without a good note, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Lawmakers urge investigations into sex-offender deal, agency, Houston Chronicle

Railroad Commission candidate pledges divestiture, San Antonio Express-News

Donald Trump makes donation to Ted Cruz, The Hill

Quote to Note

“This in no way is a magical number that we’re all of a sudden going to be healed. What it does mean is we are going to be past all those firsts.”

— West volunteer firefighter Robby Payne on the arrival of the first anniversary of the fertilizer explosion that killed 15 and injured more than 300

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    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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