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The Brief: May 26, 2014

The conversation over the weekend before the party primary runoff elections was dominated by — what else? — the GOP race for lieutenant governor.

State Sen. Dan Patrick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and debated in Salado, Tx on May 20, 2014, ahead of the Republican primary runoff for lieutenant governor.

The Big Conversation

The conversation on the weekend before the party primary runoff elections was dominated by — what else? — the GOP race for lieutenant governor. Here are the highlights in coverage:

•    One thing jumped out from the major papers' coverage — the conventional wisdom is bearish on Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's chances to win again his party's nomination. The lede in The Dallas Morning News' main story on the race in the Sunday paper by Bob Garrett and Terrence Stutz read like this: "Dan Patrick appears poised to dislodge David Dewhurst as lieutenant governor in Tuesday’s Republican runoff, and the reason is clear to tea party activists, campaign consultants and political scientists."

The Austin American-Statesman's Jonathan Tilove noted that Dewhurst was emphasizing the frequency with which candidates who finished second in the first round of voting won in the runoff. But, he added, "the odds are long on Dewhurst doing to Patrick what Cruz did to him two years ago. This time, Patrick is playing the role of Cruz, Dewhurst is still playing Dewhurst, and there is nothing to suggest that the tea party wave that Cruz rode to victory has crested in Texas."

•    And the negative attacks kept coming in the race. The Houston Chronicle's Brian Rosenthal and Lauren McGaughy recorded the most recent salvos. "On Friday, Dewhurst claimed 'qualified doctors' have approached him with concerns about Patrick hiding details of his mental health, the closest the 11-year incumbent has come to directly making an issue of the documents given to reporters by Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson this month."

Patrick, the Chronicle noted, hit back by offering a $1,000 reward to anyone producing the audio of a push poll asking about the challenger's mental history while accusing the Dewhurst campaign of producing the call. The Patrick campaign got the recording of the call but declined "to send it to reporters after deeming it 'too disgusting to repeat.' ... Symbolic of the final week before the runoff, Patrick sent a news release Thursday denouncing Dew­hurst as a fraud, followed by a release 90 minutes later denouncing negative campaigning."

•   Having said that, the heat generated by the campaign is driving voters to the polls. The Houston Chronicle's Kiah Collier reported that the 73,259 ballots cast in Harris County in early voting exceeded expectations. The lieutenant governor race, "political observers and insiders agree, has driven turnout, particularly in the Houston area, where both men are from. 'It's a healthy turnout for a runoff and I think that's because … you have lots of money being spent by both campaigns and then, obviously, in Harris County you have two individuals who are from Houston,' Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill said."

The Day Ahead

•    Today is Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for members of the armed services who gave their lives for the country.

Today in the Trib

In Texas, Conservative Candidates Ride Out Hard Hits: "In three statewide Republican runoff races, candidates who have aligned themselves to the right of their opponents are poised to capture the party's nomination despite fielding significant blows from their opponents, including forays into mental health records from three decades ago and a potentially disqualifying violation of state securities law."

Cost of Hepatitis Drug Raises Questions About Access: "A new treatment for hepatitis C is considered a breakthrough for people with the liver disease. But the high cost of the drug has complicated efforts to get the medication to Texans who receive government-subsidized health care."

Analysis: Ugly Histories Trump Campaign Promises: "In this month's runoff elections, the candidates have concentrated on qualifications, personal history and reputation. Policy, for now, is taking a back seat."


Abbott nets $200K from law firm PACs that do bond work, San Antonio Express-News

Bankers exhale as Tea Party power fizzles, The Hill

At GOP convention, Texans will make voices heard in presidential race, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Crossing alone: Children fleeing to U.S. land in shadowy system, Houston Chronicle

Overturned child abuse rulings point to problems, advocates say, Austin American-Statesman

Scheduling abuse alleged at Houston VA, Houston Chronicle

Muslim donor becomes an issue in Ellis County House race, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

"Either they're not fully vetting the candidates, or they don't have the same standard of value of life that we have."

— Texas Right to Life spokeswoman Melissa Conway on the candidate endorsement choices of Texas Alliance for Life. A notable schism has developed this primary season between the two anti-abortion groups, which historically have worked closely together.

Today in TribTalk

Why me and not Ken Paxton, by Dan Branch: "Texas needs an attorney general who will stand up and fight — not cower and hide. My opponent, Ken Paxton, appears unfit to be an attorney — let alone our attorney general."

Why me and not Dan Branch, by Ken Paxton: "The contrasts between my opponent and me are stark. Conservatives just don’t trust Dan Branch, and for good reason."

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    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 are on sale now.

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Health care Politics Dan Patrick David Dewhurst Greg Abbott