The Brief: Top Texas News for June 6, 2011

The Big Conversation:

If Gov. Rick Perry's gunning for conservatives ahead of a presidential run, he's not holding back.

The Dallas Morning News reported Saturday that Perry has invited the nation's governors to join him at "a day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our troubled nation" in August.

"Given the trials that beset our nation and the world, from the global economic downturn to natural disasters, the lingering danger of terrorism and continued debasement of our culture, I believe it is time to convene the leaders from each of our United States in a day of prayer and fasting," Perry, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, said in a letter to the governors.

Though one of the Perry's spokesmen called it apolitical, the daylong event, to be held in Houston's Reliant Stadium, would undoubtedly raise the governor's national profile among religious conservatives, many of whom have expressed dissatisfaction with the current Republican presidential field.

 

"Once the word gets out that he’s doing this, evangelicals and anybody with the same moral perspective will be on his bandwagon," Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, a Christian lobbying group, told the Morning News.

This isn't the first time Perry's issued a high-profile call to prayer, either: In April, the governor famously issued a proclamation urging Texans to pray for rain to help combat a statewide drought.

Though for months he denied any presidential ambitions, Perry has since stirred speculation by saying he'd "think about" running. He's also been recently linked to likely GOP candidate Jon Huntsman, a former Utah governor, with whom Perry dined in Austin last week.

And the latest scuttlebutt, this time from Politico's Mike Allen in this morning's playbook:

Perry "is now talking about the possibility with his biggest financial backers in Texas. If Palin doesn't get in, he sees a path to the nomination. Makes no sense to some of the nation's top Republicans, who think American has Texas fatigue, and who found Perry's comments about Texas secession to be boneheaded. Perry is still more likely to challenge Jeb in 2016."

Culled:

  • After a slow start, the special session began to move along at a brisk clip Friday, with two key budget bills and a new congressional redistricting map taking steps toward passage. On Saturday, a crowd of about 200 gathered at the Capitol to protest education cuts, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
  • State Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, has filed three bills that would criminalize illegal immigrants and their employers, The Associated Press reports. For lawmakers to consider the bills, Gov. Rick Perry would have to add them to the special-session agenda, but the governor still hasn't announced whether he'll add any immigration-related legislation — the "sanctuary cities" bill, most likely — to the call.
  • The special-session spotlight still lingers on state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat whose filibuster of a school-finance bill last week pushed lawmakers into summer overtime. Davis, as the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw reports, went from a Tarrant County trailer park to Harvard Law School to the Fort Worth City Council to the Texas Senate, where she's now found fame, or infamy, depending on whom you ask. In Davis, one former Republican lawmaker sees a "false bravado"; supporters (on Twitter, at least) envision Davis running for "U.S. Senate/Governor/President/Queen of the Universe/Whatever She Wants." And in today's Inside Intelligence, insiders debate whether Davis' filibuster helps or hurts her.

"I just fear we will end up in the same place with school finance, but have all this other risk — risk that, for Hispanics, was not worth taking.” — State Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, on Sen. Wendy Davis' decision to filibuster a school finance bill that forced the special session

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