The Brief: Top Texas News for Dec 22, 2009

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, will be hiking, not running, in 2010.

Since announcing that he would not seek re-election, many have expected Shapleigh to jump into a statewide race — and he admits he considered running for governor.  However, he’s opting for none of the above — he will not run.

Instead of running for a seat himself, Shapleigh says he will do everything he can — go door to door, make campaign stops, write op-eds — to get fellow Democrat Bill White elected governor.

"Bill White is the best candidate in decades," Shapleigh told The El Paso Times. "The best thing that I can do, that we all can do as a state, is to help him win this important office.” 

In the meantime, the recently married Shapleigh told the Times, “I am looking at several options and looking forward to spending more time hiking, reading, seeing friends and doing other work.”

Of course, if Shapeleigh’s support puts White over the top, there’s always the possibility of being appointed to a government position.

Nobody is saying that will happen — but nobody is saying it won’t.

CULLED:

Democratic rancher Hank Gilbert officially filed to run for agriculture commissioner.  Earlier in the year he was running for governor, but dropped down and endorsed Farouk Shami for the position.  Gilbert will seek the ag commissioner spot with a noticeable change in his staff — he recently gave his communications director Vince Leibowitz his blessing to join Shami’s staff as campaign director.  Leibowitz joins several new hires on the Shami team, including press secretary Charlie Ray and communications director Kelly Love Johnson, both of Broad Street Interactive.

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group, released their “Naughty and Nice” list of legislators based on grades from their legislative report card.  Those receiving high marks are all Republican and include state Sen. Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay, Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston, Waco’s Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, and Rep. Linda Harper Brown of Irving.

More than 2.5 million Texas students are enrolled in the School Lunch Program, but just a fraction of those participate in the federally funded Summer Food Program, according to a report the Center for Public Policy Priorities released yesterday. Only about 18 percent of the 2.5 million children who get free or reduced price lunches at Texas schools, get food in the summer.

• According to a study by the U.K.'s University of Warwick and Hamilton College in New York, Texas is the sixteenth-happiest state in the nation.

“I had to organize my sock drawer when he was on.” — Former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle on why he missed Tom DeLay on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars”

 MUST READ:

As health care bills wind through Congress, Texas health care leaders weigh the possible outcomesAustin American-Statesman

Perry's health care focus is on wellness, lawsuit limitsThe Dallas Morning News

Obama naming Hispanics to top posts at record paceAssociated Press

Protesters gather at Hutchison's Austin officeAustin American-Statesman

Rate Riot — The Texas Tribune

Governor race brings troops into argumentAbilene Reporter-News

 

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