The Brief: Top Texas News for Jan. 15, 2013

George P. Bush at the state Capitol on Jan. 7, 2013, the day before the beginning of the 83rd session.
George P. Bush at the state Capitol on Jan. 7, 2013, the day before the beginning of the 83rd session.

The Big Conversation

If money's a show of strength, George P. Bush — who's angling for statewide office — just came out swinging.

The Associated Press reports that Bush, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, raised more than $1.3 million from Nov. 7 to Dec. 31.

Bush's considerable haul came partly from family members and figures with political ties to the Bushes. According to the AP, Jeb Bush and former President George W. Bush, the younger Bush's uncle, each donated $50,000. Prolific GOP donors like Houston homebuilder Bob Perry and Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons also contributed.

Though Bush hasn't decided yet which statewide office to seek, he has said recently that he'll likely make a play for land commissioner. 

In an interview with the Tribune's Ross Ramsey, he said he was flattered to have his name floated for "everything from governor to ag commissioner" but explained why the land office was likely his top choice.

"Being both a business guy in asset management and being an attorney is a good background skill set to approach the office," Bush said. "Secondly, you’re head of veterans affairs, and I’d be the only veteran looking at statewide offices currently."

Asked about the state of the GOP in Texas, Bush said he would be able to woo both mainstream Republicans and Tea Party conservatives.

"I’ve always held the position that they can both peacefully coexist," he said. "I think our candidacy, in a unique way, is able to navigate both."

In doing so, Bush said, his campaign would "take a page out of Ted Cruz’s playbook and engage the grassroots and the activists within the party throughout the state."

Check out the full interview here.

Capitol Notes
Compiled from Tribune reports

•    Despite Surplus, House and Senate Offer Lean Budgets: "Republican leaders in both chambers of the Legislature on Monday offered spare first drafts of the state’s next two-year budget that continue $5.4 billion in cuts to public education made last session and freeze funding for an embattled state agency set up to find a cure for cancer."

•    House Rule Change Could Weaken Democratic Minority: "The Texas House's Democratic minority was dealt a blow Monday when the House passed an amendment to the chamber's rules to limit legislators' ability to derail a bill based on clerical errors. Calling "points of order” on such errors is a strategy lawmakers have often used to block measures they oppose."

•    In case you missed it: Monday marked the debut of the Tribune's new Lawmaker Explorer, a first-of-its-kind interactive tool that gives Texans a window into the personal interests of the state legislators elected to represent them. The Explorer, a nine-month research endeavor, is the linchpin of the Tribune's Bidness as Usual project, a session-long look at ethics and transparency in Texas’ part-time Legislature.

Culled
Texas news from across the state and around the web

•    AP source: Armstrong tells Oprah he doped (The Associated Press): "Lance Armstrong confessed to Oprah Winfrey during an interview Monday that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the interview is to be broadcast Thursday on Winfrey's network."

•    Rep. Stockman threatens Obama impeachment over guns (Politico): "Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) is threatening to file articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama if he moves to change gun regulations through executive order. 'I will seek to thwart this action by any means necessary, including but not limited to eliminating funding for implementation, defunding the White House, and even filing articles of impeachment,' Stockman said."

•    White House Responds to Texas Secession Petition (The Texas Tribune): "Responding to petitions from Texas and seven other states calling for the right to secede, the White House has called for healthy debate, but to not let 'that debate tear us apart.' 'In a nation of 300 million people — each with their own set of deeply-held beliefs — democracy can be noisy and controversial. And that's a good thing,' Jon Carson, director of the Office of Public Engagement, wrote in a statement."

Quote of the Day: "If the President is allowed to suspend constitutional rights on his own personal whims, our free republic has effectively ceased to exist." — U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, in a statement saying he would try to impeach Obama if he changes gun regulations via executive order

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