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GOV: The campaign of Gov. Greg Abbott (R) released its first ad for the general election, “Promises Made, Promises Kept.”

The ad premiered online and during tonight’s (Thursday) NFL preseason game between the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.

SD6 “open”: Secretary of State Rolando Pablos has asked Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton (R) for an opinion as to whether he is the “returning officer” for a legislative district that lies entirely within one county. Article 3, Section 13(a), Texas Constitution requires the Governor to “issue writs of election to fill” legislative vacancies. Importantly, that provision authorizes “the returning officer of the district” to order an election if the Governor fails to act within 20 days after a vacancy occurs.

Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) submitted a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott (R) expressing her intent to resign in January, but Abbott argued that her letter did not trigger his authority to order a special election. Former Gov. Rick Perry (R) ordered a special election to fill the unexpired term of former Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) that included similar wording.

Garcia then asked Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart to order an election under the above provision. He declined, arguing that he has no authority to do so. The term “returning authority” is not defined in the Constitution or statute. It could conceivably refer to county judges, county clerks or, possibly, county election administrators in the counties that employ them. but it is unclear if any of these offices could be the “returning officer” for a legislative district located within one county.

The deadline has passed for any authority to order a special election to coincide with the November general election.

HD129: Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC endorsed Rep. Dennis Paul (R-Webster).

Empower Texans: The movement conservative group is sending four-page letters to voters in a number of Republican-held districts asking them to hold the Republican accountable. All of the districts we are aware of are represented, or likely will be represented, by Republicans who defeated Empower Texans-backed candidates. “It is your job as an engaged citizen to demand that Keith Bell deliver on his campaign promises,” Tim Dunn, the group’s chairman, says in a letter sent to HD4 voters that was shared with us. There are 550 days until the Republican primary.

CD6 open: End Citizens United endorsed Democratic candidate Jana Lynne Sanchez. She is the 12th Democratic incumbent or candidate endorsed by the group for the general election in Texas.

CD23: The Koch brothers-affiliated Americans for Prosperity announced it would support the re-election of U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio). In a statement, the group said it “will fully activate its grassroots infrastructure through phone banks and neighborhood canvassing, as well as deploy targeted digital, mail and radio advertising.” Hurd was one of eight incumbent Republicans specifically named in the statement as a “first wave” of endorsements.

Dallas County: The Fifth Court of Appeals ruled that the county Republican Party can replace their candidate for county judge. Former Rowlett Mayor Todd Gottel withdrew and was appointed as a precinct chair, permitting the party to select Justice of the Peace Brian Hutcheson as a replacement nominee. He faces County Judge Clay Jenkins (D) and Libertarian Preston Poulter. Jenkins filed the suit to keep Hutcheson off of the ballot.

Starr County: The Fourth Court of Appeals ruled against a pair of former Democratic candidates who contested their primary losses by alleging illegal voter assistance, mail ballot fraud and illegal voting. A visiting district judge ruled against the plaintiffs following a five-day trial in May. The lower court found that election officials did not follow every rule and procedure, but he decided “while not perfect, [the election] was conducted within a zone of reasonable certainty.”

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