The Brief: Texas Political News for Oct. 24, 2013

Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns
Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns

The Big Conversation

A major plot twist emerged Wednesday in the race to succeed Wendy Davis in the state Senate.

The man pinned as the Democrats’ strongest candidate to hold the Republican-leaning district, Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, surprised political observers across the state by saying he preferred to remain in his current job.

He wrote in a Facebook post and email to supporters: “After many weeks of thought and consideration, my next steps have became very clear to me. And I want to share with you — my many friends, neighbors and supporters — my decision:

“Quite simply, the job I most want is the one I already have.”

 

If he had run for Senate District 10, Burns would have been trying to follow in Davis’ footsteps a second time. He took over for Davis on the Fort Worth City Council in 2007.

The stakes are considerable in the Senate district, which is generally reckoned as the only competitive seat in the chamber in the general election.

“The fight to replace Davis will be one of the state's most closely watched races next year,” reports the Tribune’s Alexa Ura. “Without her seat, which Davis has won twice in a swing district that leans Republican, Democrats would be left with only 11 seats in the Senate, bringing Republicans within one seat of the two-thirds majority needed in the chamber to bring legislation to the floor for a vote.

Ura also writes that the head of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, Deborah Peoples, has talked with at least a couple of as yet unnamed potential candidates — “including a female candidate and a minority candidate.”

On the Republican side, several candidates have said they intend to file for the SD-10 race. They include Mark Shelton, the former state rep who ran against Davis in the last election; Arlington school board member Tony Pompa; commercial real estate business owner Mark Skinner; and Tea Party activist Konni Burton.

Davis, of course, is forgoing a run for re-election to seek the Democratic nod to square off against likely GOP nominee Greg Abbott for governor next fall.

And as the San Antonio Express-NewsPeggy Fikac reports, the heavyweight battle between those two campaigns is well under way, with both making a play for the support of women.

“Abbott released a campaign video featuring women at the Texas Federation of Republican Women meeting in San Antonio praising him, ending with several sharing in saying, ‘I am a strong Texas woman, and I support Greg Abbott for the governor of the great state of Texas.’

 

“Battleground Texas, which is backing Davis as it works to make Texas competitive for Democrats, meanwhile said that the state’s new voter ID law may make it harder for women in the ballot box. Abbott is a champion of the law, calling it a way to prevent fraud.”

Culled

•    Burgdorf: UT Regents' "Clear Intent" Was to Oust Powers (The Texas Tribune): "Barry Burgdorf, the former vice chancellor and general counsel for the University of Texas System, told members of the House Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations on Wednesday that some system regents' 'clear intent' was to 'get rid of' Bill Powers, the president of the University of Texas at Austin."

•    Stefani Carter’s reversal creates problems for her chief consultant (The Dallas Morning News): "Republican Stefani Carter’s decision to abandon a campaign for railroad commissioner and instead run for re-election to the Texas House has created a dilemma for her chief political consultant. Craig Murphy, who orchestrated both of Carter’s successful campaigns in her North Dallas House district, represents Carter and one of her major rivals."

•    Final Arguments Made in Case on Abortion Regulations (TT): “'The result is much more obvious to each side than it is to me,' said U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who is presiding over a case in which the abortion providers’ attorneys are seeking to block two of the provisions state lawmakers approved in July. 'I recognize the clock is ticking toward October the 29th. I think both sides raised strong issues, and I will get a final judgment out as quickly as I can get a final judgment out.'”

•    Wendy Davis begins Washington swing, talks to House Democrats from Texas (The Dallas Morning News): "State Sen. Wendy Davis on Wednesday kicked off a swing through Washington with a series of private meetings and a speech to House Democrats from the Texas delegation. Davis, a Democratic candidate for Texas governor, is in the nation’s capital to raise campaign money and fire up base supporters for her race against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott or former Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Pauken."

•    Sen. Duncan says to 'wait and see' on speculation about Tech chancellor job (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal): "Sen. Robert Duncan likely fueled speculation in his suspected interest as Kent Hance’s replacement as chancellor of the Texas Tech University System. Duncan, R-Lubbock, had a crowd of several hundred Lubbock area movers and shakers — including Hance — laughing as he dodged questions about his potential interest in the chancellorship at his alma mater during a forum of state leaders — hosted by the Texas Tribune — Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Texas Tech."

Quote to Note: "Well, I’m all about accepting all the blessings I can get from the Lord, so that’s all good. It is a fascinating place to visit historically and religiously, and so to be able to assist a country that our faith is very much intertwined with is very satisfying." — Gov. Rick Perry, answering a question as to whether Texas could receive blessings for Texas A&M's decision to open a campus in Nazareth

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