Last week, aides to Gov. Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison were throwing elbows and rummaging through files to prove who got to the issue first.
On Thursday, Hutchison released a letter from 20 governors, Democrats and Republicans, who support the cell jamming bill she has pushed since January. Perry's name was notably absent.
"If another senator's name was on it, maybe he would have signed it," said the senator's spokeswoman, Lisette Mondello.
The governor's aides said he had sent an earlier, separate letter on the issue, which Hutchison's office said it never received.
The legislation has obvious political appeal, especially in a GOP primary, and it's on the senator's short list of goals for the final weeks of her 16-year Senate career.
The governor's side countered that Hutchison – who plans to resign by December to focus full time on ousting Perry in the March primary – may have taken it up only after Perry asked Texas lawmakers for help.
Perry aides provided a letter dated Nov. 25, 2008, addressed to the senator and the other 33 Texans in Congress, in which he asked for help in loosening the ban on phone jamming.
Inmates nationwide have committed crimes using smuggled phones. But the FCC says that even prisons can't get around the 1934 law that forbids intentional interference with radio transmissions, until Congress says otherwise.
"The governor had already sent a letter to the delegation asking them to address the issue ... almost a year ago," said Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle, explaining why the governor felt no need to join the other 20 governors who embraced his rival's legislation.
"We're pleased that Congress is now addressing this issue," Castle said, carefully avoiding any praise for Hutchison's championing of the cause and adding that Perry still needs to thoroughly review the bill for loopholes and undue bureaucratic burdens.
Both Perry and Hutchison focused on the issue last fall, but not in concert, after a death row inmate made threatening calls to state Sen. John Whitmire of Houston.
Perry ordered a systemwide lockdown so guards could search for contraband phones, and wrote Texans in Congress asking for the jamming authority.
Kay's peeps were trying to embarrass Rick for not signing onto her legislation, but it completely boomeranged on her... this has happened a lot lately... Kay is attacking Rick on petty things, which sets off a whole petty squabble that doesn't make either one look good. I think this hurts Kay a lot more than it hurts Rick, because her image has always been the nice lady, and now she just looks like someone who is disagreeing for the sake of being disagreeable.