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HD68 special: Early voting continues for the January 23 special election to fill the unexpired House term of Sen. Drew Springer (R-Muenster). About 650 people have voted early in person or by mail through the first two days of early voting. At least one vote has been cast in each of the district’s 22 counties, but fewer than 10 votes each have been cast in half of them.

The five candidates’ 8-day-out reports are due Friday.

GOV: The campaign of Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said he raised $11.5M during the second half of 2020 and ended the year with $37.9M on hand. Abbott raised $19.2M during 2020, which is about $1.5M more than during the corresponding period in his last re-election cycle. Abbott has raised $116.5M since he was elected governor six years ago, surpassing the $110.2M raised by former Gov. Rick Perry (R) during his 14 years in office.

Abbott becomes the first Texas state politician to report raising more than $200M for their own campaigns during their political career.

Abbott’s COH figure is the 6th-highest ever reported, narrowly below the $38.2M he had on hand as of July 31. It is the 10th time that Abbott has reported having at least $30M on hand:

  • $43.3M – January 25, 2018
  • $43.3M – December 31, 2017
  • $41.0M – February 24, 2018
  • $40.8M – June 30, 2017
  • $38.2M – June 30, 2020
  • $37.9M – December 31, 2020
  • $35.6M – June 30, 2014
  • $34.4M – December 31, 2016
  • $33.6M – December 31, 2019
  • $30.1M – September 25, 2014

Abbott has reported having at least $10M on hand as of the end of every reporting period since June 30, 2011.

AG: Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton (R) was not among the 46 state attorneys general who signed a letter (PDF) to Acting U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeffrey Rosen expressing their commitment to “repair the damage done to institutions and … condemn lawless violence” arising from last week’s sacking of the U.S. Capitol by a mob. “The events of January 6 represent a direct, physical challenge to the rule of law and our democratic republic itself,” they said. “Such actions will not be allowed to go unchecked.” The attorneys general of Indiana, Louisiana and Montana also did not sign the letter. Those attorneys general signed onto their own letter, which Paxton also did not join, to “echo and emphasize our colleagues’ condemnation of the violent breach” of the Capitol.

[https://coag.gov/app/uploads/2021/01/Capitol-Violence-NAAG-Final.pdf]

The Texas Tribune’s Emma Platoff reported that Paxton did not sign onto the letters because he “already addressed this issue multiple times” in interviews and tweets. In a recent Fox News appearance, Paxton said those who “start harming people … should be held accountable.” He also signed onto a January 6 statement from the Republican Attorneys General Association that said they “will not tolerate violence and civil disorder.”

Meanwhile, Paxton announced the departure of Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins and that he is being replaced by Judd Stone, a former chief counsel for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R), effective February 1. Hawkins notably did not sign onto Paxton’s lawsuit filed at the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn the election results of other states.

Elsewhere, Galveston attorney Joe Jaworski’s (D) campaign announced he raised $330K during the last half of 2020 for a prospective challenge of Paxton.

Redistricting: The Senate passed an amended resolution establishing rules for redistricting, the text of which (as amended) was not yet available online. The rules reportedly provide for virtual testimony for regional hearings (In-person hearings scheduled over the past year were all canceled because of COVID-19), 48-hour notice for hearings on maps and a 24-hour period to review a map if amendments are pre-filed.

Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), current chair of the Redistricting Committee, said she expects Census data to be available in “early summer.”