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In Houston Mayoral Runoff, A Rush To Tout Support

Also, Ken Paxton is refraining for now from saying who he favors among the 2016 GOP presidential field.

Mayoral candidate for City of Houston, Rep. Sylvester Turner on Nov. 4th, 2015. Turner obtained 32% of the vote and will com…

Houston mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner rolled out Tuesday a list of endorsements from a group of Hispanic elected officials, which includes several of his colleagues in the Legislature.

Those legislative endorsements include: state Sen. Sylvia Garcia and state Reps. Jessica FarrarCarol AlvaradoAna Hernandez and Armando Walle. Joining them in endorsing Turner are Houston City Councilmen Robert Gallegos and Ed Gonzalez, Houston ISD school board member Juliet Stipeche and Constable Christopher Diaz.

His opponent in the runoff, Bill King, was working on his own list of prominent Hispanic supporters on Tuesday, which included several former heads of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Here’s the list: Massey Villarreal, Tony Grijalva, Lupe Fraga, George Gonzalez, Irma Diaz Gonzalez, Gilbert Herrera, Rick Jaramillo, Gasper Mir, Armando Perez and Adan Trevino.

Drawing immediate attention was the inclusion of Villarreal, who also led the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce from 1992-98. In recent years, he’s also been active among Hispanic Republicans in calling on the party to temper its tone on immigration reform.

In the first round of voting, Villarreal supported the candidacy of former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia who ended up finishing third in the voting.

With word of Villarreal’s support of King, Garcia tweeted out his appreciation for the help received from his “longtime friend and a good man.”

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King released on Thursday an open letter to Houston city employees in which he attempts to reassure them that he will not make changes to their current benefits but will instead push to put new employees into defined-contribution plans.

King writes:

“Why? Because defined-benefit plans allow politicians to promise public employees a retirement benefit without going through the painful process of asking taxpayers to pay for those benefits. Instead, the liability for the promised benefits is kicked down the road to our children and our grandchildren.

“In defined-contribution plans, however, the full contribution must be funded each year.

“There are other ways to address the problem, but continuing on the current path is not an option. It will result in a financial disaster for everyone — massive tax increases like we are seeing in Chicago, drastically reduced benefits for current retirees, and more.”

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In the Republican primary for attorney general last year, Ken Paxton received a big boost when U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas expressed support for the then-state senator.

With Cruz now running for president, is Paxton ready to return the favor? Not yet, the attorney general said last Friday.

Speaking with reporters in Lubbock at a meeting of Texas Republican women, Paxton said he is not making an endorsement in the 2016 race — "for now." He nonetheless had praise for Cruz, calling the U.S. senator "very bright," "extremely conservative" and "not afraid of a fight."

"I'm very excited about the presidential race. I think we have a lot of great candidates, and he's one of them," Paxton said of Cruz.

Of course, Paxton's endorsement could have its downsides. The attorney general is currently under indictment on securities fraud charges stemming from work he did before taking office in January.

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Prosecutors in the case against Paxton are defending themselves against accusations they botched the grand jury process — and comparing the attorney general to a popular TV show character.

In a filing made public Tuesday, special prosecutors handling the securities-fraud charges against Paxton said he "has taken a page from the play book of Don Draper, a Madison Avenue advertising executive on 'Mad Men.'" In one episode cited by the prosecutors, Draper tells a colleague, "If you don't like what's being said, then change the conversation."

"That’s exactly what Paxton has done," the prosecutors wrote, accusing the attorney general of trying to cast doubt on the Collin County grand jury that indicted him instead of addressing the merits of the case.

The filing came in response to several motions to dismiss the charges that were made earlier this month by Paxton's legal team. Among other things, the motions raise questions about the formation of the grand jury, which Paxton's lawyers have previously said may have been "empaneled in a matter inconsistent with law."

Paxton is accused of misleading investors in a technology company before he took office as attorney general. He has pleaded not guilty.

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Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley has added a stop in Houston to his tour of Texas. The former Maryland governor made several stops Thursday in Austin, and was scheduled for a breakfast reception in Dallas this morning.

He has now added a 6:30 p.m. reception Nov. 20 at a private home in Houston.

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