The Brief: Texas Political News for Dec. 11, 2013

The Big Conversation

A day after Steve Stockman pulled the election switcheroo heard around the nation, the question is now this: Who knew of Stockman's plans, and when did they know it?

The Texas Tribune's Aman Batheja has a story this morning examining that question. Here's how he framed the issue: "While the Friendswood Republican's decision drew quick national attention that evening, a select few saw it coming. In the days beforehand, news of Stockman’s plans quietly spread among some Texas Republicans, setting off a scramble for those interested in replacing Stockman in the U.S. House but not willing to run against him."

One of those filing on Monday, Dave Norman, told Batheja that Stockman "began considering a challenge to Cornyn on Friday. He said Stockman debated the decision over the weekend and through part of Monday. ... Norman, whose wife, Bonnie, is a senior community representative in Stockman’s congressional office, said Stockman encouraged him to run for his seat."

Another candidate, Doug Centilli, told Batheja that he found out about Stockman's plans just hours before the filing deadline on Monday. “It was a very quick decision,” said Centilli, a longtime chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, who resigned his position on Tuesday. “There was concern that southeast Texas wasn’t going to have an opportunity to have conservative representation.”

In an ironic aside, it now looks like they needn't have bothered with the hurry-up-and-file strategy. The state Republican Party on late Tuesday afternoon said it was extending the filing deadline until Dec. 16 in order to comply with a provision in the Election Code dealing with an incumbent who withdraws from a race at the end of the filing period. So a number of new candidates could enter the race over the next few days.

Culled

•    In DC, Houston mayor says Wendy Davis bid for governor faces long odds (The Dallas Morning News): "Houston’s three-term mayor said today she’ll be working to elect Wendy Davis the next governor of Texas — but said the state senator faces very long odds. 'She’s running to win,' Mayor Annise Parker told me earlier today, just before a speech at the National Press Club. 'But its still 54-46, or about that, and that’s what Texas has been for a long time. It’s an uphill battle.'”

•    Cruz-inspired Stockman faces uphill challenge in Cornyn race (Houston Chronicle): "[SteveStockman, a one-term congressman from the Clear Lake area, hopes for a replay of the scenario that saw Ted Cruz take down establishment Republican favorite David Dewhurst in the U.S. Senate race two years ago. But experts are skeptical of Stockman's chances for a variety of reasons, including a lack of money, no obvious sign of significant support, and the considerable weight of personal baggage."

•    Lawmakers: Cornyn will easily defeat Stockman (The Hill): “'[Stockman] has a loyal following, but I don’t see Cornyn losing. Cornyn has done a great job for us,' said Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), who called both legislators friends. 'I don’t really understand exactly what Steve did.'”

•    Will 2014 bring Democratic strides in Texas? (Fort Worth Star-Telegram): "Republicans contend that the longtime judge from Fort Worth, now the sole Democratic statewide officeholder, made a mistake and won’t win his bid for the Supreme Court or re-election to his own seat on the state’s highest criminal court when his term expires. At the same time, Democrats say they are ready for a revolution and believe that state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, can help lead the charge with her quest to become governor. And Meyers’ party switch could add fuel to the fire, making him a key leader if he succeeds."

•    Emails show ‘culture of racism’ at Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, lawyer says (Austin American-Statesman): "While poring through an ocean of legal documents, a Houston-based trial lawyer stumbled upon several emails to and from employees of Texas Windstorm Insurance Association that disparaged Hispanics, Arabs and African-Americans, often using racist language."

Quote to Note: "You can't be conservative enough to satisfy the tea party base of the Republican primary electorate. Cornyn has been rated the second most conservative member of the senate, and the question comes from them, why not first? They say gut up, look at Ted Cruz and be like that." — Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson, on the Senate minority whip's current difficulties with the right wing of his party

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