The Big Conversation:
Intended to shake up the presidential race, the announcement of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate has set Texas Republicans aglow.
Romney's decision — officially announced on Saturday but leaked late Friday — shocked political observers, many of whom had predicted that he would choose either U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio or former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. News outlets called the selection of Ryan, the author of the controversial House Republican budget plan, a high-risk move sure to energize both Republicans and Democrats.
Gov. Rick Perry, in Iowa over the weekend to stump for Romney and to attend a Christian conservative summit, said Ryan would draw voters to Romney and galvanize conservatives.
"The choice of conservative budget hawk Paul Ryan underscores Mitt Romney's commitment to downsizing Washington, fixing our economy and restoring American job creation," Perry said in a statement, according to the Houston Chronicle. "Paul Ryan will energize economic voters, young voters and blue collar voters who know President Obama is destroying American jobs and hope for the future."
Ted Cruz, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, offered similar praise for Ryan, who spoke at the Texas Republican Party's convention in June.
"In Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a champion of fiscal sanity and a formidable advocate for policies that will get our country back on the right path," Cruz said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Even former President George W. Bush, usually quiet on politics now, chimed in with a compliment. "This is a strong pick," Bush said in a statement. "Gov. Romney is serious about confronting the long-term challenges facing America, and Paul Ryan will help him solve the difficult issues that must be addressed for future generations."
Texas Democrats, meanwhile, deployed familiar attacks against Ryan, who has made entitlement reform a centerpiece of his budget plan.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, praised Ryan's intellect but slammed his politics. "Bright and articulate, Paul Ryan represents a younger version of Rick Perry policies without the rough edges and 'oops' moments," Doggett, who has served with Ryan on the House Ways and Means Committee, wrote in a Facebook post. "I like him; I just don’t like his policies, which are not a return to our founding principles but only a reversal to the failed Bush-Cheney approach."
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Paul Sadler was more surprised but offered similar criticism. "I didn't think he would pick someone as radical as Paul Ryan," Sadler said, according to the Chronicle. "I thought he would try to move more toward the center of American politics. Paul Ryan, by any judge, is a pretty radical tea party candidate. His budget, in my opinion, would essentially destroy Social Security and Medicare."
- Texas public employees earned $122 million in overtime pay last year, the Houston Chronicle reported over the weekend. In a few instances, workers made even more in overtime pay than they did from their salaries. The seemingly large bill, though, isn't without some explanation. As the Chronicle notes, funding cuts have left state agencies short-staffed, and in the case of the Health and Human Services Commission, which doled out the most overtime pay, the sour economy has created a backlog of food stamp and Medicaid applications.
- Long-time political strategists James Carville and Karl Rove debated election-year politics on Sunday at the Dallas Convention Center. The timing of the event, held by the American Society of Association Executives, allowed the the two to spar over the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate, as The Dallas Morning News reports.
- Amid a simmering battle in El Paso over the extension of domestic partner benefits to city employees, El Paso County is poised to join the same debate. The county has twice entertained the possibility of providing such benefits but has failed to win the necessary votes. County commissioners will meet again today to consider the proposal, which officials say would cost the county $24,000 per year, according to the El Paso Times.
"No, I’m disappointed that I wasn’t the choice for the presidential slot." — Rick Perry to The Dallas Morning News on whether he was disappointed that he wasn't picked as Romney's running mate
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