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The Back-and-Forth on Attack Ads Picks Up

All the heat is being concentrated in two contests: the GOP runoff races for attorney general and lieutenant governor

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The competition remains fierce between the GOP contests for lieutenant governor and attorney general for the title of nastiest runoff contest.

•    Late last week, AG candidate Dan Branch aired an ad to keep fresh for voters the news that his opponent, Ken Paxton, was reprimanded for not disclosing his work soliciting work for an investment adviser. The ad itself created controversy because it was made just about entirely from a news report aired by a Fort Worth station, which sent the Branch campaign a letter in protest.

Branch followed with another ad going after Paxton on the same issue. This time, he featured a Dallas businessman who had sued Paxton after learning the lawmaker had made money after referring him to an investment adviser. That investment ended up losing money.

The Branch campaign also highlighted a couple of police associations in Paxton's Senate district — in Allen and McKinney —and State Republican Executive Committee member Bonnie Lugo, who all took back endorsements of Paxton.

Paxton hit back with an ad describing Branch as a "registered union lobbyist" and a "liberal Republican." The first description was judged "false" by PolitiFact Texas.

•    Things were no less heated in the race between David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick for their party's nomination for lieutenant governor. Dewhurst followed up on the decision by former rival Jerry Patterson to un-endorse Patrick by cutting a quick ad featuring a few of Patterson's favorite firearms and Patterson saying, "Dan is not the man."

Patrick responded by featuring a kitchen sink in an ad calling out the incumbent for running a negative campaign. Dewhurst volleyed back with an ad featuring a woman from a previous attack ad to claim that it isn't negative campaigning if what is being communicated in the ads is the truth.

•    Democratic U.S. Senate candidate David Alameel has increasingly taken to ignoring his runoff rival, Kesha Rogers, to start training fire on the GOP incumbent John Cornyn. In an interesting twist, Cornyn is now returning fire — and using campaign materials originally created by Rogers to do so.

Cornyn's fundraising email centered on a news report on a sexual harassment claim made by four workers who worked for Alameel's chain of dental clinics. The email was intended to question Alameel's commitment to advancing women's best interests as senator. The claims never involved Alameel personally, and a later complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ended with a consent decree that required Alameel's clinics to put into practice a non-harassment policy.

The email featured an image created by Rogers' campaign that was critical of Wendy Davis' decision to endorse Alameel. In a play on The Most Interesting Man in the World ad campaign by Dos Equis beer, the Rogers campaign took a picture of Davis and superimposed the words, "I don't always endorse men who fire women that complain about sexual harassment in the workplace ... but when I do, they are named David Alameel."

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