The Brief: Top Texas News for July 15, 2010

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

It's mid-year campaign finance report day, and if said reports are a show of strength, House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, is making a muscle.

He'll report holding cash balances of around $3 million in his two accounts and another $205,000 in the Texas House Leadership Fund, which Straus and some of his chairs founded to hold and grow the GOP majority in the House. We haven't seen or heard the amounts yet, but his reports — according to someone who has seen them — will show donations to incumbents and to Republicans running in open seats. (Straus has said he won't campaign against incumbent Democrats.)

Expect to see other candidates' mid-year finance reports — which are due today but reflect money earned, spent, loaned and on hand through June 30 — trickling in throughout the afternoon. Expect a day full of spin, too, with candidates aware that a strong showing can put wind in a campaign's sails.

Gov. Rick Perry's crew has been trying to shape expectations, telling reporters that he had an expensive primary and that his opponent, Democrat Bill White didn't. (In February, White reported more than twice as much cash on hand as Perry.) That sets up well for Perry, if you take the hook: If he's got more money than White, he jumped a hurdle; if he didn't, well, there was a hurdle. The early tips from the White campaign, meanwhile, are that he's had more than 16,000 supporters since he declared for governor in early December, that three-quarters of those gave $100 or less and that he'll have 11,700 newbies in the report, which will be made public later today.

Political action committees, most important in legislative races, will also report today. Texans for Lawsuit Reform, friendly mostly toward Republicans, will report holdings of more than $3 million, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

CULLED:

  • Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who, as per Rick Perry's characterization, got "testy" with the governor during a phone call two weeks ago, will be in Laredo today to announce millions of dollars in grant funding for Texas border security.
  • At a University of Texas System Board of Regents meeting today, UT President William Powers Jr. will recommend that one of the university's dorms be renamed in light of its namesake's ties to the Ku Klux Klan. The Tribune's Elizabeth Titus has a report on the naming controversy, which began in May.

"I'm worried, I'm concerned, any time someone is more interested in partisan politics than they are in what's in the best interest of our state." — Gov. Rick Perry on Democrats' returning fire over the governor's fights with the feds

MUST-READ:

President makes first federal court nomination in TexasAustin American-Statesman

BP launches new test on choking off oil spill — The Associated Press

Immigration issue huge in local raceSan Antonio Express-News

Notes provide few details into deaths of Coppell mayor, daughter — The Associated Press


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