The Brief: Texas Political News for Dec. 16, 2013

State Rep. Rick Perry with Railroad Commissioner John Sharp (D) on the floor of the House during the 70th Legislative session, May 20, 1987.
State Rep. Rick Perry with Railroad Commissioner John Sharp (D) on the floor of the House during the 70th Legislative session, May 20, 1987.

The Big Conversation

The week starts with questions over whether the Texas A&M regents' decision on Saturday to tap the chancellor's favorite for interim president over the governor's favored candidate will lead to more controversy in College Station.

The Texas Tribune's Reeve Hamilton reported one regent, Tony Buzbee, as saying, "The board was not as divided on the issue as people had indicated in the days preceding the meeting." One of those people was the Tribune's Ross Ramsey, who reported the night before the regents' meeting that A&M Chancellor John Sharp was calling regents to build support for his candidate, Mark Hussey.

Gov. Rick Perry, meanwhile, was pushing his preferred candidate, Guy Diedrich. Ramsey wrote, "Off the record, some people familiar with the matter said regents were told on behalf of the governor’s office to get in line behind Diedrich." Ramsey added, "Buzbee called that 'overdramatic.'"

Ramsey also had the historical angle on what could be the latest chapter of the sometimes fraught relationship between Perry and Sharp: "It’s the first public breach in years in a Perry-Sharp frenemies drama that goes back to their college years as Aggies four decades ago. They were pals then, friends during their years in the Legislature and early time as statewide officials, rivals who came to political blows in the 1998 race for lieutenant governor — Perry won that by about 70,000 votes — and friends again after a chance meeting in an Austin gun shop seven years later.

"Sharp, a former comptroller, helped the governor pass a politically hazardous tax bill. The kumbayas kept on coming until Perry tapped Sharp — through his appointed regents — as chancellor in 2011.

"Now they’re apparently in a face-off, with those same regents stuck in the middle."

Culled

•    Why tens of thousands of Travis County voter registration cards have outdated names (Austin American-Statesman): "At a time when the recently instituted, controversial voter ID law has spurred widespread anxiety about having the right documentation at the polls, many of those women were upset that their new registration card had a name they no longer use. The blow-back was so intense that the Travis County voter registrar’s office issued an explanatory statement Friday under the headline: 'Don’t shoot the messenger.'”

•    Ex-Houston lawmaker with a checkered past among candidates for state ethics panel (Houston Chronicle): "A former Houston congressman with a checkered past is among those being vetted for a potential appointment as a commissioner on a state ethics commission that regulates campaign finance, lobbying and political disclosure laws. Craig Washington, a longtime state lawmaker and three-term congressman, is on a lengthy list the lieutenant governor's office is considering for a Democratic appointment to the Texas Ethics Commission, The Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News has learned."

•    George P. takes baby steps away from Bush name (The Associated Press): "But Bush's rightward drift comes with risks. It might hurt his image as a next-generation Republican who could reach out to Texas' booming Hispanic population. ... 'I'm willing to stand behind this concept, that as conservatives we can win the Hispanic vote without selling out the values,' Bush said. 'I don't think we need to compromise.'"

•    Iowa Poll: What Iowans think about 2016 Republicans (The Des Moines Register): "Fourth most popular is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, with a favorable/unfavorable rating of 55 percent to 19 percent among Republicans in Iowa. ... 'People feel affection for Rick Perry because he’s likable and he’s done a lot of good things in Texas. But the minute his gaffes are replayed, people would question whether he has the chops to go up against Hillary.'”

•    It could happen again (The Dallas Morning News): "In the weeks after the West disaster, investigators identified numerous ways it might have been prevented — or at least mitigated. Yet eight months after 15 people died and hundreds were injured, no significant measures have been adopted by state government to keep something like it from occurring again."

Quote to Note: “It seems a little disingenuous to me that, right here as we have Wendy Davis running for governor, all of a sudden the state is going to mess with women’s voter ID cards.” — Denise Brouillette, who is not happy that her new voter ID card includes her ex-husband’s last name that she dropped 10 years ago

Must-Read

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