The Brief: Top Texas News for Nov 24, 2009

THE BIG CONVERSATION

Is “eye-gougingly boring” the new “gubernatorial”?

The wonky Houston Mayor Bill White announced yesterday that, after months of running for an unavailable U.S. Senate seat, he will consider running for governor instead.

In the same day he announced he might run, White managed to pick up a few arguably significant endorsements — among them former U.S. Ambassador Tom Schieffer, who had been running for governor until dropping out yesterday.  State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, who previously declined to enter the race for governor, also endorsed White. 

An eager state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, endorsed White before Schieffer officially dropped out or White even officially signaled the possibility. This ended speculation that Shapleigh might try for the top slot himself.  Of course, there are always other options for people wanting to campaign statewide — a sporting crack at Land Commissioner, perhaps?

This point was emphasized to the other Democratic gubernatorial candidates yesterday when Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie gathered them at his son’s law firm for a cordial afternoon meeting.  Richie stressed the importance of avoiding the fratricidal atmosphere currently permeating the GOP.  While no explicit push was made for candidates to fall in line, but the remaining down-ballot options were mentioned repeatedly.

Any intended implications went over like…well, like something really, really heavy. This morning, candidates Farouk Shami, Hank Gilbert, Kinky Friedman, and Felix Alvarado all remain in the race.

As our own Ross Ramsey notes, “Only [White] and Friedman have name identification, only he and Shami have money.”  How much money does White have?  All $4.2 million White raised in his Senate bid (and then some) can be used to run statewide [NOTE: Turns out, this is not the case - he can only use around $3 million], including the $4,800 donated to his campaign by Shami.

Also worth checking out: Ramsey took time to break down the "winners" (John Sharp) and "losers" (Kay Bailey Hutchison) of this whole race-switching affair.

Of course, nothing is official yet (other than Schieffer dropping out). In the spirit of the age of cable news— Bill White announces. You decide. 

He is accepting suggestions, comments, etc. on his website before making a final decision by Dec. 4.

CULLED

• Today we will be treated to some dueling education policy proposals.  Rancher and Democrat for Governor Hank Gilbert, the most prolific policy proposer of the bunch, will lay out his plan to fund public education at an event in Austin.  In Plano, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, fresh from her recent stand in favor of expanding gun rights, will announce four key components of her education plan.

• Who needs the whole state party executive committee when two-thirds will do?  Rick Perry picked up the endorsement of 41 of 62 State Republican Executive Committee members yesterday.  Perhaps they were inspired by his appearance at yesterday’s “Faith and Freedom” luncheon in Dallas, where he listed the power of prayer as the “primary resource” in the effort to get Washington “to start pushing the pendulum back in the other direction.”

"Plenty of room in this hot tub." — Kinky Friedman welcoming Houston Mayor Bill White to the Democrats' crowded gubernatorial primary race

MUST READ

No $500 extra check for retired teachers, state workersAustin American-Statesman

CASEY: Why White will join race for governorHouston Chronicle

Young guns: Are drug cartels actually recruiting Valley youths? — The Monitor

Gov. Perry tells veterans in Hewitt that state will spend funds to reduce backlog in benfits claimsWaco Tribune-Herald

Group gives bad grade to teacher educationHouston Chronicle

Upwardly Mobile — The Texas Tribune

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