Dallas' Royce West in Senate Race, Confusion Over Texas' Hemp Law, What Frustrated Border Patrol Agents Have to Say

Good morning! Here are the top political headlines from Austin, Washington, the campaign trail and Dallas.Points from the trail1. Royce West launched his campaign for Senate on Monday, joining a crowded field of Democrats looking to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. West, who has served in the Texas Senate since 1993, was boosted by nearly 1,000 supporters at the CWA union hall in Dallas, including U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, former U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk and former Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith."It's going to be a long road," he said, nodding to a potential general election, but first a primary fight that includes at least three other Democrats. Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards jumped into the race last week.2. As Democrats prepare for a bruising primary, Cornyn is cobbling together what's expected to be a well-funded organization. Here's what he's doing to help the GOP keep Texas red.3. A familiar name is back in politics. Former state Sen. Wendy Davis launched a bid for Congress on Monday against U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, an Austin Republican who has stirred Washington in his first term with a no-holds-barred approach to legislating."I'm running to be a voice for every Texan who feels forgotten by a broken political system," said Davis, who earned national attention in 2013 for filibustering in the Legislature against anti-abortion legislation. "It's time to make Washington listen -- will you stand with me?"4. We're approaching the second round of Democratic debates, and last week we found out who ended up on which night. Will Texans Julián Castro and Beto O'Rourke get a rematch, and will there be a second showdown for former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris?5. Biden earned the support of longtime Dallas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson on Monday, who said in her endorsement of him that we "need a leader who can bring people together and get our country back on the right track."Bob's breakdownBob Garrett is the Austin bureau chief for The Dallas Morning News. A fifth-generation Texan, he has covered state government and politics for decades. Here, Bob offers his take from the Capitol. Democrats' capture of two North Texas seats in the state Senate last fall, along with Michelle Beckley's upset of former GOP Rep. Ron Simmons in a Denton County House district, fueled talk that the jig might be up for veteran GOP Sen. Jane Nelson of Flower Mound. After all, isn't there big demographic change sweeping the Metroplex's outer suburbs? Guess again. In Nelson's district, which includes southern Denton County and portions of western and northeastern Tarrant, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz outperformed his statewide vote total by 5 percentage points. Gov. Greg Abbott beat his by 5.6 percentage points. Nelson, one of seven incumbent senators with more than $1 million in hand, is gearing up her fundraising for next year's election. Since 1993, she's been unopposed in every primary. Asked about rumors he's mulling a challenge of Nelson, Simmons replied, "Nope." Democrats haven't fielded a candidate against her since 2006, when she swept to 64% of the vote against Democrat Dwight B. Fullingim and a Libertarian. Look for Nelson, the Senate's chief budget writer, to announce for reelection soon.Points from Austin1. State GOP leaders have told local prosecutors not to abandon prosecution of marijuana-possession cases because of recently passed legislation legalizing hemp.In a joint letter to district and county attorneys, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Attorney General Ken Paxton emphasized that "marijuana has not been decriminalized in Texas." Prosecutors should not toss low-level marijuana cases, they said.But some say the new hemp law redefined marijuana in a way that requires new lab testing to prove it's different from hemp.2. The complex, drawn-out criminal case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was further complicated this week as lawyers on both sides filed motions that could again delay the case from proceeding to trial.The special prosecutors want the judge to decide how much they should be paid, and Paxton's lawyers want the case moved back to Collin County and a new judge appointed.Points from the border  Continue reading...

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