The Brief: Top Texas News for Nov. 21, 2012

Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade announcing the launch of the 2010 census in Texas
Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade announcing the launch of the 2010 census in Texas

The Big Conversation:

Weeks after controversy over an attempted dead-voter purge erupted, the resignation of Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade has stirred speculation.

Andrade announced on Tuesday that she would step down from her position at the end of the week.

"I am truly humbled by the trust and confidence Gov. Perry placed in me nearly four-and-a-half years ago and will forever be grateful for the opportunity to represent Texas in this esteemed office," she said in a statement.

As Texas' chief elections officer, an important but often low-profile role, Andrade had overseen five statewide elections since 2008, when Gov. Rick Perry appointed her to the position.

But her office stepped into controversy earlier this year when an error-plagued effort to purge dead voters from the state's rolls before the November elections resulted in hundreds of Texans mistakenly receiving letters asking them to verify that they were alive. The errors were found to have disproportionately affected black and Hispanic voters.

"That may have put a little burr under her saddle because she did receive some criticism," San Antonio lawyer Roy Barrera Sr., who served as secretary of state in 1968, told the San Antonio Express-News. "She's been in the limelight. Maybe she wants to dim the lights just a little bit."

Of the voter purge and controversy over the state's contentious voter ID law, state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said, "I hope that she is resigning because she does not want to be a part of that any more."

But Andrade's office, which has defended the purge, said Tuesday that she was simply ready to leave the job. "Having finished a successful statewide election, her fifth, the secretary believed that it was a good time to make the transition and let someone else have this great office," said a spokeswoman.

Culled:

  • The trickle of immigration-related bills that lawmakers have pre-filed so far for the 2013 legislative session stands in stark contrast to the flood of such legislation that marked the beginning of filing season two years ago. It's still early, but observers say the slowdown may indicate that Republican fretting over changing demographics has reached Texas. "It is fair to say that Republicans are afraid of what the Latino vote means," said a representative for one immigrant rights group. The Tribune's Julián Aguilar reports.
  • Veteran state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, the San Antonio Republican who was defeated in his Republican primary in July, may not be done with government. According to the Express-News, Wentworth is under consideration for a justice of the peace opening in Bexar County. 
  • Ross Ramsey reports that three newly elected state representatives — Cecil Bell Jr. of Magnolia, Ken King of Canadian and Chris Paddie of Marshall — have been asked to testify in a lawsuit filed against their political consultant. The lawsuit pits the conservative advocacy group Empower Texans against Murphy Turner Associates, a Republican consulting group.

"I always thought if the Republicans were smart enough, they'd run Hope statewide." — State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, to the Express-News on Hope Andrade

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