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Inside Texas Politics: Front-Runners' Strategy

On this week's edition of WFAA-TV's Inside Texas Politics, we talked about the campaigns being run by three GOP statewide candidates, the conservative makeup of the state Senate, Wendy Davis' new book and more.

Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey on WFAA-TV's "Inside Texas Politics" on Sept. 14, 2014.

On this week's edition of WFAA-TV's Inside Texas Politics, I talked with host Jason Whitely and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy about the campaigns being run by three GOP statewide candidates. Greg Abbott, consistently ahead in the polls, probably won't hit his opponent Wendy Davis with negative TV ads until the very end, if at all. Down the ballot, his fellow front-running Republicans, Dan Patrick, who is aiming for lieutenant governor and Ken Paxton, who is vying for attorney general, are keeping their campaigns low profile. Patrick has one debate scheduled with Democratic nominee Leticia Van de Putte, while Paxton shows no sign of engaging at all with Democrat Sam Houston. This confidence in the results extends beyond statewide offices: it looks like the Senate will be more conservative than ever, with as many as eight new senators leaning farther right than their predecessors. That signals considerable difficulty for Democrats to get anything done; it might also stymie moderate Republican efforts.

We also talked about Joe Allbaugh, a former FEMA director, chief of staff to George W. Bush when he was governor of Texas and campaign manager for part of Gov. Rick Perry's 2012 run for president. Recently, Allbaugh has been in the news for a different reason: he's an investor and board director of a Colorado-based company that specializes in testing marijuana for potency and quality. While he doesn't condone recreational use of the drug, Allbaugh, whose wife had cancer, acknowledges its purported medicinal value and sees a business opportunity as more states loosen laws around its prescription and use.

Davis' new book, which among other things details an abortion and the termination of an ectopic pregnancy, came up — it may not move the needle much one way or the other in the upcoming election, but it might be setting the stage for contests in 2016 and beyond. And Ted Cruz seemed to have a tough week politically, booed off the stage by an audience of Middle Eastern Christians in Washington, but he might've been making his real case to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Also: A Tea Party activist wonders whether we're asking political candidates the right questions about the border; the import of Wendy Davis' book is discussed from the left and the right; Jason interviews Paul Griffin, Jr. from Phi Beta Sigma about his national fraternity's outreach to young African-American men; and Jason and Bud talk to David Williams, a 13-year-old in Dallas who has emerged as something of a gadfly to the city council there, showing up at City Hall and publicly challenging politicians to do more. His issues: education, domestic violence and poverty. It's not clear yet whether he's eyeing the mayor's job or Jason's, but the kid's clearly a comer.

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