The Brief: Top Texas News for Jan 18, 2010

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Debra Medina has a dream — and it’s not just to bring a gun into a grocery store.

That dream is to participate in the January 29 Republican gubernatorial primary debate being sponsored by Belo and The Dallas Morning News

The detectives among you might deduce from the name of the event, “The Belo Debate: Perry Versus Hutchison,” that Medina is currently not invited — despite holding her own in a recent debate with Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison put on by KERA.

The criteria Belo is using to determine debate eligibility are as follows:

• 15 percent standing in independent public opinion polls, the standard used by the Commission on Presidental Debates.
• substantial campaign contributions from varied sources.
• previously held significant public office.
• received a substantial number of votes in prior elections for public office.
• will be included in election-night returns reported by news agencies.
• has received significant news coverage from a wide range of media outlets.

These might be more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.  According to The Dallas Morning News’ government editor, Ryan J. Rusak, candidates “don't have to hit every single one of the points.”

Still, many Medina supporters feel that the tables have been unfairly turned against their candidate.  A number of them are expected to spend this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day rallying outside Belo offices in Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio in hopes of gaining access for their candidate.

CULLED:

• U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is rolling out her sixth policy proposal today in Dallas.  She will be discussing government reforms and will be touching on the issue of “cronyism.” The event is at 10 a.m., so it should wrap up in time to make it to the lunchtime Debra Medina rally.

• The clock is ticking. According to a letter sent out on Friday, Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus want state agencies to turn in their numbers showing how they intend to cut 5 percent from their current budgets by February 15.

• He may be down, but state Sen. Kip Averitt is not out.  The Waco Republican announced last week that he was dropping out of the race due to health problems — but some of his supporters say they are determined to make sure he gets elected over primary challenger Darren Yancy of Burleson. 

• The best laid plans of mice, men, and the State Preservation Board often go awry. Plans for a costly and controversial addition to the Governor’s Mansion — which would have added 3,000 square feet — were suddenly tossed out late Friday.

"I'd like to delete hip-hop and add country," State Board of Education member Don McLeroy on curriculum changes he’d like to make.

MUST READ:

Three events pointed White to campaign trailHouston Chronicle

S. Texas lawmaker taking on key role with immigrant billSan Antonio Express-News

Eye on Austin: GOP predicament needs more debateAmarillo Globe-News

History debate delays vote on social studies curriculum  — Austin American-Statesman

Latinos and the Pay Gap — The Texas Tribune

Rep race attracts most donationsEl Paso Times

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