The Brief: Top Texas News for Oct. 7, 2010

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

The plot's still thickening in the incident on Falcon Lake.

That may smack of mystery-novel cheesiness, but the incident — involving an American woman's claims that Mexican drug pirates shot her husband while the two were on Jet Skis in the border reservoir — has caught national attention and on Wednesday engaged Gov. Rick Perry and opponent Bill White.

On Wednesday, Mexican officials found nothing in their search for the body of David Michael Hartley, whose wife, Tiffany Young-Hartley, has made the rounds on TV this week, attracting skepticism from some wondering why the couple would have traveled into crime-addled Mexico in the first place.

"[Have] there been some questions that have been raised? Definitely. I’ve been privy to some of those, but we’ll wait until they do the investigation," said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, whose office sent a letter to the Mexican ambassador to the U.S. on Wednesday offering assistance with the search for a body.

 

Perry seized on the opportunity to hit Washington for its "ongoing failure to secure the border with Mexico." He dismissed rumors disputing the truth of Young-Hartley's claims — as did Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano — and pressed Mexico to step up search efforts, saying, "Until Washington fully engages .... we're going to continue to press this issue, taking the fight to the criminal element that continually attempts to exploit our porous border, and they continue to commit some pretty terrible crimes against our citizens as well as the citizens of Mexico," according to the Houston Chronicle.

White also went political. Katy Bacon, his campaign spokeswoman, said, "Perry seems to have just discovered this tragedy. Perry has had 10 years as governor to get the resources we need to secure the border and he's failed."

The search for a body is set to continue today.

CULLED:

  • District Judge Charlie Baird, asked to disqualify himself from hearing a case re-examining the conviction of executed Corsicana man Cameron Todd Willingham, on Wednesday decided to postpone the hearing in order to review arguments over his recusal.
  • A glimmer of good news on the economic front: After a more than 12 months of year-to-year losses, the state is beginning to see a rebound in sales tax revenue.
  • Attention's mostly still on the top of the ticket, but look down ballot, past the other statewide races, to find the state's fiercest money-war battles. The Tribune has analyzed those recently filed finance reports, which show challengers outraising incumbents in 15 of the state's most competitive House races. (Get your data fix here.)

"He’s in the conversation among some of us who talk. He’s not an outlier." — Former Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., floating U.S. Sen. John Cornyn's name as a possible presidential candidate

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