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The Brief: May 8, 2014

Not even Disney movies are safe when it comes to the scorched-earth tactics in the race for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.

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The Big Conversation

GOP lite guv hopefuls David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick spent Wednesday morning going after each other in a debate "with practiced acrimony," as the Austin American-Statesman's Jonathan Tilove described it in his postmortem. The pair traded further blows in the afternoon, with the attacks borrowing from — of all things — the Disney animated film Frozen.

Later this morning, failed lite guv candidate Jerry Patterson will present what he calls his "Dewhurst endorsement/Dan Patrick non-endorsement," which will feature a Top 10 list of reasons why Patterson won't back Patrick.

Yes, things have taken a turn for the strange in this high-stakes, high-tension runoff contest.

Also, it is clear these men simply do not like each other, something that was evidenced by their often hostile body language during the debate and by their post-debate comments to reporters. Patrick took umbrage with a line used by Dewhurst in the debate equating him to a snake-oil salesman. Patrick likened it to something he heard in a debate in seventh grade.

And then there was the exchange between the two men over Dewhurst's decision to leave the Senate during floor debate on an anti-abortion bill to meet with his political consultant. After much pressing from Patrick, Dewhurst said he was at Austin Land and Cattle for 35 minutes, where he had the chicken.

"When he was asked after the debate whether voters should trust a man who orders chicken in a steak joint," Tilove wrote, "Dewhurst chuckled, replying, 'You know that I’m not aware that the Austin Land and Cattle is just a steak restaurant.'”

The Day Ahead

•    Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott is in Tyler at 1:15 p.m. to unveil the third phase of his education policy proposal.

•    Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis is in Dallas at 1 p.m. for an event highlighting Abbott's oversight of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

•    Join us at 8 a.m. for a conversation with state Rep. Dan Branch, candidate for attorney general at the Austin Club. If that's too early for you, we will livestream the event.

Today in the Trib

Lawsuits Challenge Transparency of Texas Execution Process: "Defense lawyers say that information about the drug Texas uses in executions – pentobarbital — is shrouded in secrecy. And they worry a dearth of information could lead to cruel and unusual executions."

Charity Group Backs Landowners in Immigrant Smuggling Case: "A Catholic philanthropic organization has thrown its support behind a mining company and one of its employees who are being sued after three undocumented immigrants were killed during an incursion onto private property in Brooks County."

SBOE Incumbent Faces a Strong Tea Party Challenge: "Pat Hardy, a 12-year incumbent on the State Board of Education, is facing a tough re-election fight against a Tea Party activist in a Republican primary runoff that could shift the balance of power on the GOP-dominated board."


BLM answers Abbott's letter, not his questions, Houston Chronicle

Musk: Tesla to break ground on ‘gigafactory’ site next month, Austin American-Statesman

Austin might add ‘drought fee’ to water bills, Austin American-Statesman

Denton City Council reinstates moratorium on new drilling permits, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

HISD cheating scandal escalates as 5 more teachers face firing, Houston Chronicle

Plans Announced for High-Speed Rail to Houston, NBC DFW

Adelson’s political beneficiaries adopt casino magnate’s cause to ban Internet gambling, Washington Post

Called by Republicans, Health Insurers Deliver Unexpected Testimony, The New York Times

Quote to Note

"Every time there’s been another turn in the narrative, I think, ‘No one is going to believe this.’ And now, Bernie is off to live in Rick’s garage apartment. A team of screenwriters, sitting all day in a room, couldn’t have come up with this one."

Skip Hollandsworth, whose Texas Monthly article inspired the 2011 Richard Linklater film about Bernie Tiede, on Tiede's release from prison this week

News From Home

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Trib Events for the Calendar

•    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

•    The Texas Tribune Festival runs from Sept. 19-21 at the University of Texas at Austin, tickets on sale now

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Explore related story topics

Energy Environment Politics Public education Dan Patrick David Dewhurst Greg Abbott Rick Perry Wendy Davis