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The Brief: Aug. 8, 2014

In the governor's race, the ad wars are officially underway.

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The Big Conversation

In the governor's race, the ad wars are officially underway.

As the Tribune's Jay Root reported, Republican Greg Abbott's campaign on Thursday announced what it called the first major statewide TV ad buy of the race. Featuring Abbott's mother-in-law praising his values, the spot — which was produced in both English and Spanish — will start airing today.

Hours later, Democrat Wendy Davis released a searing new TV ad attacking Abbott over an opinion he issued while a state Supreme Court justice in a case involving a woman who was raped by a door-to-door salesman in the early 1990s.

The Abbott camp called the ad "gutter politics," but the content of the ad wasn't the only point of contention between the two camps. As Root writes, each side claimed it was first with the ad buy:

Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas said Team Abbott was “100 percent reacting to this campaign” by announcing earlier Thursday that it was airing a TV ad.

"The Abbott campaign is clearly scrambling,” Petkanas said. He said the ad provided “the latest example of how he fights for insiders at the expense of hard-working Texans.”

Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said the Davis campaign was reacting to the Abbott buy.

“They put their ad out at 8 o’clock at night. We put ours out at 3 p.m.,” he said. “The facts are the facts. Why wouldn’t they put it out if they had it earlier?”

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz are among the Texas Republicans set to speak at the RedState national convention in Fort Worth this weekend. Perry will speak this morning, and Cruz will speak this evening. 

Trib Must-Reads

A Look at Perry's New Campaign Guru: Jeff Miller, by Jay Root

In Panhandle, a Growing Need for a Shallow Lake's Water, by Neena Satija

Analysis: Timing of Speculation Not on Van de Putte's Side, by Ross Ramsey

Texas May Refuse to Follow Climate Rules, by Neena Satija

Water Board Delays Final Decision Over Controversial Reservoir, by Eli Okun

T-Squared: Goodbyes, Promotions and New Hires, by Emily Ramshaw


Judge asks for evidence, not emotion, in abortion case argumentsAustin American-Statesman

Van de Putte presses Patrick for debatesSan Antonio Express-News

Wendy Davis questions National Guard role on borderThe Associated Press

Austin City Council puts $1 billion rail, road plan on November ballotAustin American-Statesman

City Council revokes $32 million pledge for rail systemSan Antonio Express-News

County of 95 Sees Opportunity in Toxic Waste, The New York Times

Quote to Note

"He is the one that has the governor’s ear. Jeff has brought a focus and a leadership that was missing."

— Former Rick Perry spokesman Mark Miner on Jeff Miller, the consultant behind Perry's recent political rehabilitation

Today in TribTalk

The Texas GOP's commitment problem, by Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Health Care: What's Next?: Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith will lead a discussion with two of the Legislature's most respected thinkers on health care, state Reps. Garnet Coleman and John Zerwas, on Aug. 18 in Richardson. The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required. 

•    The Texas Tribune Festival runs from Sept. 19-21 at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Greg Abbott Wendy Davis