Vol 30, Issue 43 Print Issue

At separate events, Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, filed for governor in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013.
At separate events, Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, filed for governor in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013.

The Inescapable A-Word in the Governor's Race

As state Sen. Wendy Davis and Attorney General Greg Abbott gear up for the 2014 gubernatorial election, both candidates’ campaigns have made a tactical choice to remain mostly mum on the abortion issue.

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Sources close to state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, say she is poised to make an announcement on her political future on Friday. But the likely Democratic contender for lieutenant governor is expected to do what gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis did: reveal a future date for a formal announcement. The two women are now inextricably linked for their roles in the June 25 filibuster against a law that further regulated abortion facilities. Their appearance at the top of the ticket will likely heighten enthusiasm with the Democratic base.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott gave a 25-minute speech to a Tarrant County Tea Party group, outlining about a dozen policy proposals he would push if he wins the Governor's Mansion. One of those proposals would overhaul the state's ethics laws significantly and is getting plaudits initially from ethics watchdogs.

One of the UT System's top lawyers told the House select committee looking at possible articles of impeachment against Regent Wallace Hall that he may have been given confidential student information which he shared with his attorneys. In other developments, the committee issued and then recalled a subpoena for Hall because it would have summoned him on the wrong date. And UT regents formally requested an opinion from Attorney General Greg Abbott asking whether a legislative committee can compel testimony on matters protected by attorney-client privilege.

Michael Quinn Sullivan rejected a proposed settlement from the Texas Ethics Commission with a simple response: the word "NUTS" where his signature would have gone. He's contesting complaints filed by two lawmakers — state Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, and former state Rep. Vicki Truitt — that he acted as a lobbyist with registering as one for the 2010 and 2011 calendar years.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called for a congressional investigation into whether the National Security Agency's domestic spying program has ever targeted gun owners, kept a list of firearms purchases or tracked gunshow visits. A previous survey conducted by the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll found the vast majority of Texas registered voters believe the NSA is the most likely of government agencies and other large organizations to violate their privacy.

The University of Texas at Austin’s lawyers and attorneys for Abigail Fisher, who is challenging the school’s consideration of race in admissions decisions, once again found themselves arguing before federal judges. The case is drawing national attention for what it could mean for the future of looking at race to promote diversity on college campuses.

The city of Wichita Falls will soon enter an unprecedented stage 4 of emergency drought response, which includes a total ban on outdoor watering and an internal audit of water consumption by local businesses. “It’s a vital resource now,” said Barry Levy, the city’s public information officer. The lakes’ combined capacity has dropped by 25 percent since February.

Political People and their Moves

Donna N. Williams of Arlington was re-elected as chairwoman of the Texas State University System's board of regents. First selected as regent in 2008, Williams — a vice president with Parsons Government Services — has been chairwoman since November 2012. The board also re-elected Ron Mitchell of Horseshoe Bay as vice chairman.

Frisco City Councilman Scott Johnson will not seek the Republican nomination for SD-8. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, currently represents the district but is running for the GOP nomination for attorney general next year. State Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano, announced over the summer that he was interested in running for SD-8.

And speaking of Paxton's bid for Attorney General, state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, has endorsed Paxton in that contest. Birdwell said that this marks the first time that he's endorsed in a statewide race, "underscoring how important he considers the race for Attorney General and the significance of his endorsement for Senator Paxton."

Baylor University has extended the contract of President Ken Starr and added a new title — chancellor. The board of regents said that along with the expanded title, Starr is charged with working "to increase Baylor's influence in the nation and around the world."

Lite guv candidate Dan Patrick announced his statewide campaign finance team. The effort will be chaired by James H. Lee of Houston, who served as state finance co-chairman of Texans for Rick Perry beginning in the spring of 2009 and national finance chairman of the Perry for President Campaign in 2011. Before that, he was chairman of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas board but stepped down in January 2009 after stories surfaced that he had been sued by a Las Vegas casino for an unpaid gambling debt. Other big names associated with Patrick's fundraising team include Roy Bailey of Dallas, longtime Patrick ally and leader of Conservative Republicans of Texas Steve Hotze of Houston, school voucher advocate Jim Leininger of San Antonio and conservative activist and financier Tim Dunn of Midland.

Land Commissioner candidate George P. Bush announced that he has obtained the endorsement of state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler.

Will Hurd, who lists as a bullet point on his resume a nearly decade-long stint as an operations officer in the Central Intelligence Agency, filed for the Republican primary in Congressional District 23. That district, currently held by U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, is the state's lone true swing congressional district.

Brian Sledge, most recently with Lloyd Gosselink, is opening his own public affairs shop under the banner Sledge Fancher.