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Tue July 31, 2012
Tea Party, Mainline GOP Clash In Key Texas Runoffs
Stark choices await Texas voters in Tuesday's runoff elections as tea party-backed candidates face establishment Republicans while new leaders emerge among Democrats.
In the U.S. Senate race, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is offering his 14 years of experience against Ted Cruz, a tea party insurgent running in his first election.
Democrats will also decide their nominee for the Senate, choosing between former state Rep. Paul Sadler and retired educator Grady Yarbrough.
Among Democrats, fierce races for U.S. House seats will be settled in Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio. Republicans are battling for congressional districts in Central and East Texas.
Voters will also decide Railroad Commission, Supreme Court and State Board of Education nomination races. Several key legislative races are also on the ballot.
Voter traffic light at some Texas polling places
Early voter traffic is light for primary election runoffs at a few polling stations across Texas.
In South Texas, an election official said only three or four people cast ballots at one polling place in the first hour of voting Tuesday morning. Election judge Israel Gonzalez says he hopes voters in San Juan will "come in later."
A polling station in west Dallas was averaging a voter about every 10 minutes, although workers for one campaign were enthusiastically stumping for their candidate on a nearby street corner.
State to help process claims from Texas vets
Texas will help process thousands of backlogged federal disability claims at Department of Veterans Affairs regional offices in Houston and Waco.
The Texas Veterans Commission in Austin announced the initiative Tuesday. Texas is committing $1.5 million to the project.
So-called strike force teams, made up of eight counselors, are expected to help relieve a backlog of nearly 69,000 claims pending for more than 125 days.
Additional staffers will be dispatched to Dallas, Fort Worth, Temple, Austin, Houston, San Antonio and McAllen to assist veterans in filing their claims.
2 die in house fire in North Texas town of Weston
Investigators say an electrical problem apparently caused a North Texas house fire that has left two people dead.
Authorities in Collin County say the bodies were discovered late Monday night at a burned home in Weston, about 40 miles north of Dallas.
Collin County Fire Marshal Jason Browning says firefighters discovered the bodies close to the front door. Browning says it appears an overloaded electrical system caused the fire.
Names of the victims and further details on the fire were not immediately released.
Austin man who faked cancer gets 2 years for theft
A Texan who faked having cancer to get donations has been sentenced to two years in state jail.
A judge in Belton on Monday sentenced 33-year-old Brian Jeffrey Bonniwell of Austin, who in June pleaded guilty to theft. Bonniwell, also known as Brian Fisher, was fined $1,000, must repay more than $1,500 and has to surrender his truck.
A "Battle for Brian" benefit was held last year in Killeen. Bonniwell received cash donations, plus free parts and labor on his vehicle.
Bonniwell in 2005 was sentenced to 10 years of probation in Travis County after being convicted of burglary.
He pleaded guilty last November to fabricating evidence for giving his probation officer a fake cancer treatment document. Bonniwell received five years in prison. His latest sentence must be served consecutively.