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Dan Patrick Welcomes GOP Lieutenant Governors to Texas

Also, Ted Cruz weighs in on Trump's attacks on the Trump U judge, the GOP places a big bet on Will Hurd in the CD-23 race and the RPT rolls out the welcome mat for disaffected Bernie backers.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick assures the audience at the Freedom, Faith and Fellowship event May 12, 2016 that he will uphold conser…

The Republican Lieutenant Governors Association annual conference started Monday in Austin — the first time the event has ever been hosted in Texas.

“I am pleased to welcome the RLGA and Lt. Governors from all across the country," said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in a statement. "It is indeed a special occasion to welcome them to Austin, Texas."

Over two days, the conference attendees were scheduled to hear speeches from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, former Gov. Rick Perry and Col. Steve McCraw from the Texas Department of Public Safety. The conference will also feature a presentation on the Texas Prison Seminary Programs.

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In other Cruz news, the former GOP presidential hopeful is putting some distance between himself and Donald Trump's criticism of a judge over his Mexican heritage.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has been on a tear against U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, saying he cannot rule fairly in a case against Trump because the judge is Mexican American. Trump's attacks on Curiel have been rebuked by many Republicans, including those who are supporting him for president.

Cruz, who has so far declined to back Trump for the White House, told NBC on Monday afternoon that it is wrong to criticize a judge due to race or ethnicity — but stopped short of directly denouncing Trump for the episode.

"Of course it's inappropriate to be attacking a federal judge's race or ethnicity," Cruz said. "You're going to have ask Donald to explain the reason he says the things he does. I'm not going to try to do so."

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National Republicans are ponying up to protect U.S. Rep. Will Hurd this fall. The freshman congressman has a tough re-election rematch against former U.S Rep. Pete Gallego for the sprawling Texas 23rd District.

The House Republican campaign arm reserved $1.4 million in television advertising in the San Antonio media market, along with $100,000 in Odessa

This comes after a Democratic super PAC reserved $850,000 in San Antonio earlier this spring. This is one of the most competitive seats in the country, and more outside spending is expected to come to southwest Texas.

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The Texas Railroad Commission is asking Attorney General Ken Paxton to sue the federal Environmental Protection Agency — again.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the three-member commission asked the Republican statewide officeholder to challenge the federal agency’s effort to slash methane emissions on oilfields.

“These rules are just another assault from the Obama Administration in its war against fossil fuels and a blatant attempt to forcibly take over the regulation of Texas' oil and gas industry, a job the Railroad Commission has excelled at for almost a century,” Chairman David Porter said in a statement.

His colleagues shared similar statements.

The standards would slash emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that often leaks from well pads, compressor stations, processing plants and other equipment used in petroleum production. They would have an outsized impact on Texas, the nation’s oil king.

So far, most U.S. efforts to fight climate change have focused on carbon dioxide, which accounts for the vast majority of greenhouse gases emitted in the country.

But methane, the primary component of natural gas, is much better at trapping heat. One pound of methane has more than 20 times the impact on global warming of one pound of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, scientists estimate.

The EPA and environmental groups contend that the rules, while helping to address climate change, could also save the industry in the long run — allowing operators to keep gas that would otherwise be wasted.

If Paxton grants the oil and gas regulator’s request, it would hardly be a surprise.

Texas has filed 40 lawsuits since President Barack Obama took office in 2009 — nine of them under Paxton.

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With Hillary Clinton wrapping up the nomination of her party for president, the head of Texas’ Republican Party is rolling out the welcome mat for Bernie Sanders supporters disaffected by the nomination process.

After dinging Clinton over the ongoing controversy over her use of a private email server while secretary of state, Chairman Tom Mechler offered his critique of how Democrats chose their nominee.

“If anything is for certain, it’s that the primary process of the Democrats is rigged and completely disenfranchises their own voters,” Mechler wrote. “We welcome any and all Democrats to the Republican Party of Texas who feel the same way.”

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A group of leading Congressional Democrats is hosting a fundraiser Thursday evening for Vicente Gonzalez, the Democratic nominee to succeed outgoing U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Edinburg.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Whip Steny Hoyer headline the list of hosts for the reception, set to happen a few blocks away from the Capitol. Other names include Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra and DCCC Chair Ben Ray Luján.

Gonzalez won a runoff last month over Juan “Sonny” Palacios Jr. to clinch the nomination. He will face Republican nominee Tim Westley in the general election.

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