The Brief: Top Texas News for Jan. 21, 2013

President Obama working the rope line after his Austin Music Hall speech on July 17, 2012.
President Obama working the rope line after his Austin Music Hall speech on July 17, 2012.

The Big Conversation

Texas Democrats rode a fresh wave of optimism over the weekend as inauguration festivities descended on Washington.

Top Texas Democrats gathered in D.C. to celebrate the second term of President Barack Obama, who was officially sworn in as president Sunday in a private ceremony but will participate in the traditional inauguration ceremonies today.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who is leaving Washington for the private sector, told a large gathering of Texans on Sunday in Washington that they should be hopeful about the state's political future, as The Dallas Morning News reports.

"Everybody in Washington now has their eyes on the state of Texas," said Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas, adding, "When Texas turns blue, the country’s going to turn blue, and it’s going to stay blue."

Rising Democratic stars Julián and Joaquin Castro, who attended a high-profile Hispanic inaugural event over the weekend, took their message on Sunday to CBS's Face the Nation, where they addressed Texas' shifting political landscape.

"It's changing," said Julián Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, who delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention last year. "It's going to become a 'purple state' then a 'blue state' because of the demographics, because of the population from folks coming from outside Texas." (Castro, as well as Republican state Rep. Larry Gonzales of Round Rock, appear on the cover of this week's Parade magazine for a report on how Hispanics are changing America.)

Republicans have cast doubt on Democrats' optimism about turning Texas blue — or even purple — in the near future. As Steve Munisteri, the chairman of the Texas Republican Party, told the Morning News, Republicans have not only maintained their grip on every statewide office but have also managed to steadily increase the number of local posts they hold statewide.

But Democrats say they're laying the groundwork for a comeback. "It’s not going to be pretty. It’s not going to be easy," U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, told the Houston Chronicle. "But it can be done."

Culled
Texas news from across the state and around the web

•    Texans Rally Against More Gun Control (The Texas Tribune): "Roughly a thousand Texans flooded the Capitol grounds on Saturday to rally against a renewed national push for gun control legislation and to criticize President Obama for signing gun-related executive orders." (Watch video of the event here.)

•    Dewhurst Appoints Senate Committees (The Texas Tribune): "Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst slipped out his committee assignments for the 83rd Legislature late Friday afternoon, a bit of timing that will give senators — and the lieutenant governor — several days before they see each other again to debate the choices."

•    Dewhurst removes Wendy Davis from Education Committee (Fort Worth Star-Telegram): "State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who staged a filibuster in the Republican-led Senate two years ago to try to block more than $5 billion in education cuts, was removed from the Senate Education Committee by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst."

•    Perry, Abbott draw donations from same donors, a challenge for possible face-off (The Dallas Morning News): "Attorney General Greg Abbott hasn’t made it much of a secret that he’d like to run for governor one day. If he were to take on incumbent Rick Perry, one of the challenges would be that they fish in the same pond of big Republican donors. In the last six months, they tapped the same 140 large donors — Perry for about $1.5 million and Abbott for about $1.2 million — a Dallas Morning News analysis of their contributions over $200 shows."

Quote of the Day: "Rick Perry has never needed a binder full of women." — Deirdre Delisi, Perry's former chief of staff, on the gender makeup of the governor's office

Must-Read

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