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Texas Voters: Both Primaries are Close

A week before the start of early voting in the March 4 party primaries, Hillary Clinton leads Barack Obama in Texas by eight percentage points and John McCain leads Mike Huckabee here by four — a statistical tie — according to polling done for the Texas Credit Union League.

A week before the start of early voting in the March 4 party primaries, Hillary Clinton leads Barack Obama in Texas by eight percentage points and John McCain leads Mike Huckabee here by four — a statistical tie — according to polling done for the Texas Credit Union League.

The GOP race is in a statistical tie between McCain, at 45%, and Huckabee, at 41%. Texas Congressman Ron Paul was the favorite of 6%.

In the Democratic primary, Clinton, with 49%, leads Obama, with 41%.

Clinton has to attract attention from people who don't usually vote in primaries, while Obama's first job will be to get the attention of the voters who usually do, said David Beattie, president of Hamilton Campaigns. Democratic primary voters are more familiar with her, he said, while Obama has a job of persuading those who are undecided or with her to come to his side. That's a flip of what's happened elsewhere.

"He has some voters who don't know him," Beattie said. "Everybody knows her. It's a flip of Iowa: He wants to convince voters, and she wants to bring in new voters."

That said, he expects the Democratic primary to swell by 40% to 80% over normal primary levels, as it has in other states during this contest. He expects Hispanic voters — a key constituency for Clinton in Texas — to make up about 30 percent of the primary vote. African-American voters — a key for Obama here and elsewhere — make up about 18 percent in his turnout model (Anglos made up 50% of the Democratic respondents and 94% of the Republicans surveyed).

And both Beattie and his Republican counterpart, Glen Bolger, a partner with Public Opinion Strategies, expect to see some Republicans deciding to cross over and vote in the Democratic primary. Mostly to oppose Clinton.

The main difference between this and past Texas primaries, though, is the obvious one. The races aren't over. "There's a reason to vote," Bolger said.

Huckabee is holding onto social and religious conservatives and other hard-core Republicans, as he has in other states. McCain is doing best with moderate and female Republicans. Bolger sees the stakes as relatively low on the Republican side, since Texas delegates aren't portioned on a winner-take-all basis. "McCain can play for a tie and put it away elsewhere," he said.

Beattie, the Democrat, says the Republican numbers are interesting because there's still a tie. "You have a Republican nominee that has the nomination all but locked up but is still working to get voters. It's not the coalescing that you want to see."

Both pollsters found an absence of animosity among voters about their own candidates. Each of the four leaders have approval ratings above 70 percent from their primary voters. Clinton's voters like Obama, and vice-versa. McCain's like Huckabee, and his like McCain. They just prefer their choice over the other candidate. With the exception of the relatively small group of Republicans who'll cross the line to vote against Clinton, most of those polled are voting for someone and not against someone.

Oh, and both say they expect the electorate to move around — a lot, maybe — as the four candidates campaign in Texas.

"I think you're going to have a very interesting couple of weeks," Beattie said.

The Texas Credit Union League hired a Democratic and a Republican polling firm to run simultaneous surveys of Texas voters earlier this week (February 11-13). For the Democrats, it was Hamilton Campaigns; for the Republicans, Public Opinion Strategies. They each surveyed 400 primary voters — Democrats and Republicans, respectively. Each survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.

Some highlights of the TCUL Poll:

• Top national issues for GOP voters are illegal immigration, terrorism and national security, and the economy and jobs. For Democrats, the top three issues are the economy and jobs, the situation in Iraq, and health care.

• Top state issues for Republicans are illegal immigration, property taxes, and education. The state issue lineup for Democrats is education, health care, and illegal immigration.

• McCain leads 49%-36% with voters who plan to vote early; Huckabee has a 45%-42% edge with voters who plan to wait until Election Day on March 4. McCain's strongest support comes from moderate/liberal Republicans and Anglo women. Huckabee's top groups are Anglo men without college degrees, "very conservative and strong GOP", and religious conservatives.

• Huckabee does best in East and West Texas; McCain in South, Central and the DFW areas.

• On the Democratic side, Obama is the 46%-42% favorite with voters who plan to vote early, while Clinton leads 51%-40% with those who plan to wait until Election Day.

• Clinton is strongest with Hispanics and older and Anglo women. Obama is strongest with African-Americans, independents, and men with college degrees.

• Clinton's strengths are in South and West Texas and, narrowly, in East Texas. Obama does best in Central Texas and Houston. And the candidates are locked in a tie in the DFW area.

• Most of the Democratic voters — 85% — say the country's on the wrong track. Republicans split on that question, with 46% saying the country is on the right track and 45% saying it's on the wrong track.

• Huckabee outdoes McCain with voters whose most important issues are terrorism and national security, and illegal immigration. McCain beats Huckabee with those who think the economy and jobs are the most important issues. Huckabee's voters say he shares their values. McCain's are split evenly across four areas: experience, values, electability, and is best able to deal with terrorism and the war in Iraq.

• Clinton's better off with voters who have the economy and jobs, and those concerned with Iraq. Voters with health care at the top of their issue list favor Obama. Those looking for experience like Clinton; those who want change prefer him.

• Just over two-thirds of the GOP voters say they approve or strongly approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as president. Democrats weren't asked that question. The GOP voters were also asked about their state officeholders. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is known by virtually all of those voters and has favorable or strongly favorable ratings from 87% of them. The state's junior senator, John Cornyn, is known by 85% and viewed favorably by 60%. Gov. Rick Perry is known to virtually all and gets favorable ratings from 62%. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst: Name identification, 90%, favorables, 52%. Attorney General Greg Abbott: Name ID, 73%, favorable, 40%. And Comptroller Susan Combs: ID, 64%, favorables, 29%.

• And one for the sponsors of the poll: Texas voters apparently like credit unions. More than half of the Republicans and Democrats polled belong to those financial institutions, and more than 75% have a favorable impression of credit unions.

TCUL opened their cross tabs for public inspection. Below, you'll find the pollsters' memo, their summary, and then cross tabs for both the Democratic and Republican voters surveyed.

TCUL Poll: Executive Summary and Results

The top-lines of both polls, with questions

TCUL Cross tabs: Democratic Primary Voters

TCUL Cross tabs: Republican Primary Voters

The Presidential Trail

Former President Bill Clinton will make a swing through East Texas on Friday, stopping (tentatively) in Texarkana, Longview, Tyler, Nacogdoches, and Lufkin.

And the candidate herself will make another stop in McAllen next week. The expectations for that one are high, if vague: They hope for 25,000 to 50,000 people.

• Most people can't go to this even if they want to, but the Texas debate between the two Democratic candidates will be at the University of Texas Recreational Sports Center next week, a room that holds about 3,000 people. The public's not invited, although the Texas Democratic Party is giving away 100 tickets. The party's also taking the opportunity to make this a fundraiser, with official watch parties that run $50 per person. At the Austin version, they don't promise an appearance by the candidates, but say they've been invited to attend before or after the debate. Or you can stay home, put on your house shoes and watch for free. It'll be televised live on CNN and later that evening on Univision.

• Both of the Democrats are now up and running — in the media sense — in Texas. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are running regular television, and both have Spanish-language ads running on Texas radio stations.

• Put U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on the John McCain bandwagon.

• State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, endorses Obama. So does state Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine. Add State Reps. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, and Ana Hernandez, D-Houston, to the list of Obama endorsers. And U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio. And Rep. Jim Dunnam of Waco, leader of the House Democratic Caucus.

• Add former U.S. Rep. Charlie Stenholm, D-Abilene, to Team Clinton. He was a member of Congress for 26 years before becoming a lobbyist; while in the House, he was a founding member of the Blue Dog Caucus, a group of conservative Democrats there. Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, aligned with Clinton. Van de Putte, who's got an official role at the Democratic National Convention this year, first checked with party officials to make sure her endorsement wouldn't interfere with that gig. It doesn't, and she's with Hillary.

• Van de Putte's former mayor, Ed Garza of San Antonio, will be on the other side. He endorsed Obama.

• U.S. Rep. and presidential candidate Ron Paul plans to stop at the University of Texas at Austin in a week; though he's said he needs to keep an eye on his reelection bid, he's also trolling for votes for the national office. Organizers are trying to attract 10,000 people for a Saturday event.

• New Jersey? Barack Obama's campaign says Newark Mayor Cory Booker will head the candidate's efforts in Austin, Texas. He'll open the campaign's Texas headquarters and then go on a door-to-door effort with volunteers.

• Clinton opens her headquarters a few miles away an hour later. The Clinton co-chair in charge? United Farm Workers Co-Founder Dolores Huerta, who's from California.

A Herd of Elephants

The Republicans of CD-22 agree on one thing — one of them should oust Democratic Congressman Nick Lampson. They're battling over who gets to try.

Voters have their choice of ten Republicans in the primary. The district has a Republican history in past elections, and the crowded field is a measure of the GOP's feeling that this seat is rightly theirs. Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom Delay held the seat for 22 years. Lampson, the only Democrat in this year's race, won in 2006 after DeLay resigned. With the number of challengers, there is a high chance of a runoff.

"No one's going to walk away with this on March 4th," says candidate Pete Olson. His says his campaign has the financial resources — just over $400,000 — to be one of the two who makes the runoff. "I wouldn't trade our position with anybody," Olson says of his campaign. Olson was an assistant to former Sen. Phil Gramm and chief of staff for Sen. John Cornyn, and both have endorsed him. (Along with big-name support, Olson's the only candidate with a MySpace page, for what that's worth. His heroes, it says there, include his parents and the founding fathers.)

Not everyone seems too bothered by having nine opponents. But ten is definitely a crowd.

"It would be easier to focus on one or two opponents," says Jim Squier, a longtime Harris County district court judge.

"I think it's great because it gives the people in 22 a choice," says candidate Shelley Sekula Gibbs. She's leads the money race with close to $900,000 — including almost $500,000 she loaned her campaign. The Houston dermatologist served the last few weeks of Delay's term after Gov. Rick Perry called a special election in 2006. She was a write-in candidate on the general election ballot that year and lost to Lampson by about 10,000 votes. Sekula Gibbs contends she would be the incumbent if she hadn't been a write-in.

Depending on whether you count Sekula Gibbs' short stint, Olson's the only one with Washington experience. That doesn't scare another candidate, State Rep. Robert Talton of Pasadena. He's got about $200,000, putting him in the ranks with the two former mayors, John Manlove of Pasadena and Dean Hrbacek of Sugar Land.

"People are looking for somebody who isn't 'Washington as usual,'" Talton says. "You can see it in the presidential races, They don't like the idea that Washington's trying to run everything."

A Houston political blogger who calls himself the Anticorruption Republican (he asked us to leave his real name out because he works in city government) says he's just happy to vote for someone other than DeLay. "I haven't voted for the guy since 1996. People are excited for this election because they can actually vote for the Republican."

The candidates held a forum Tuesday night. "It felt like a family reunion — with a couple of siblings having it out" says candidate Brian Klock. He says Olson and Hrbacek were the rowdy ones. Klock's a military man and says he doesn't want to be lumped in with the professional politicians.

Kevyn Bazzy is working the same game. The former military intelligence officer says "The people without a lot of experience are being catapulted... this seat can be taken by someone like myself, it's one of those rare years in politics."

Some people say Lampson's still got a shot; Republican candidate Cynthia Dunbar says "he has a very strong base in the district." She says the other candidates probably believe whoever wins the primary wins in November, and that she's the only candidate that can effectively run against Lampson.

"Nick Lampson is nobody's fool," Klock says. "Anyone who thinks they're getting through this with a layup is wrong."

Carol Trujillo with the Fort Bend County Democrats is more than happy to see a long list of Republicans. "It shows they don't have a clear favorite, it's a good thing," she says. "The day after he [Lampson] was elected, they were predicting his demise, but he has been a representative to all the people of 22, not just the Democrats." She says Lampson is more visible than Delay was. He's raised just a little more than Sekula Gibbs, but with no debt, and he's got about $715,000 in his campaign accounts, compared to her $435,000.

This race has a lot of candidates and voters thinking and working pretty hard, but some just find it all a little funny.

"We've got a five-on-five basketball team, which works out well for me because I think I'm the tallest of the candidates," says Olson, who's 6'3".

Fort Bend County Democrat Ann Harper says, "For a while, we kept joking that it was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves."

— by Karie Meltzer

Political Notes

Gov. Rick Perry heads to El Paso next week to endorse Republican Dee Margo, who's challenging incumbent Republican Pat Haggerty in the primary. It's highly unusual for a governor (or any statewide official) to run against incumbents from their own party, to say the least. Margo ran unsuccessfully for state Senate two years ago. But Haggerty barely fended off a challenge that year, and in that district, Margo showed well in his Senate bid. Haggerty has started a TV ad, partly in defense, that features him and his mom, Eleanor, who ends with a killer tag line aimed at Margo's recent move into HD-78. She says Margo was appointed by House Speaker Tom Craddick (the Margo camp denies that) and says the challenger moved into the district just for this race: "I have a carton of milk that's been in the district longer than he has."

• In the category of very local politics, Mike Huckabee and Hillary Clinton were the favorite presidential candidates in the New Boston straw poll, followed by John McCain and Barack Obama. Your scores, in raw votes: Huckabee, 111; Clinton, 65; McCain, 32; and Obama, 25. That straw poll — sponsored by the northeast Texas town's chamber of commerce — had the state's two Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate tied, with 63 votes each. Rick Noriega and Ray McMurrey can take this to the bank, though: incumbent Republican John Cornyn got 60 votes. The Democratic tilt held in the U.S. Rep. race, with Democrat Glenn Melancon getting 69 votes to Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall's 66, and Democratic state Rep. Stephen Frost getting 147 votes against Republican challenger George Lavender, who got 55.

Quico Canseco — one of two Republicans running for a shot at U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio — won an endorsement from Texas Right to Life.

Bryan Daniel, one of four Republicans seeking the GOP nomination in HD-52 (currently held by Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock), won an endorsement from the Texas Farm Bureau's PAC. Whassup with that? He's a former USDA appointee.

• The Texas Parent PAC endorsed Joe Tison, the former Weatherford mayor who's challenging state Rep. Phil King in the Republican primary. That's no surprise; the group helped recruit Tison.

• Former Rep. Todd Hunter, a Democrat-turned-Republican who's challenging Rep. Juan Garcia, D-Corpus, will get an assist from two GOP statewide officials. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams will appear at a fundraiser on the USS Lexington next week. Gov. Rick Perry is cutting a video for that deal, promoting the challenger.

Jonathan Sibley of Waco picked up an endorsement from former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant. That's not in the district, but the campaign said Ratliff likes Sibley's positions on public education. He was also a legislative colleague of former Sen. David Sibley, the candidate's pop. Sibley the Younger is running against Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson in the GOP primary.

Crashing the Party

Texas laws restricting outside meddling in elections for the Speaker of the House are unconstitutional, according to a federal lawsuit filed by an unlikely coalition of political righties and lefties.

They say the law designed to keep outsiders from spending money to influence those elections and to lobby and debate with House members who elect their leader every two years prevents Texans from voicing their own opinions. The law effectively blocks voters and groups from voicing their views on a major bit of legislative business: Who runs the show. That, the suit says, is a violation of four rights protected in the U.S. Constitution: speech, association, petition, and equal protection.

They're attacking what's known as the Speaker Statute and its provisions against spending money "to aid or defeat the election of a speaker candidate" or of spending more than $100 for the "cost of correspondence" for that purpose.

You don't generally find these groups on the same side of the table: Free Market Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Texas Eagle Forum PAC, Kelly Shackleford, and David Broiles. The two individuals are, respectively, the president and chief counsel of the Free Market Foundation, and the legal vice president of the ACLU. They're suing the Texas Ethics Commission, its members and executive director, and Collin County District Attorney John Roach (named because he's Shackleford's home DA and as representative of all of the state's district and county prosecutors).

The law has apparently never been challenged or used to prosecute anyone in the course of the half-dozen races for speaker that have taken place while it's been in effect. Even so, the groups say, the 35-year-old law has a birth defect. Read literally, they say, it makes it a crime to spend even the smallest amount of money in an effort to affect a speaker's race. Newspapers regularly rail for and against House Speaker Tom Craddick, and his reelection is a vividly argued matter on the Internet, but the groups say the law has a chilling effect.

"Because it hasn't been enforced doesn't mean it won't be," said Lisa Graybill with the ACLU. She said it's impossible to know who has remained silent for fear of violating the law. Shackleford didn't name names, but said he knows of groups that want to jump into the speaker debate who have been advised against it by their lawyers.

They say the law prohibits anyone from spending any money to lobby for, educate, or campaign on the issue of how members should vote for speaker. They'll ask U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin for an injunction preventing its enforcement in the March 4 primaries and in the early voting leading up to Election Day.

Endorsements, PACs, and Bribery

A political action committee that bases its decision on support on who a candidate supports for speaker might be violating the state's laws against legislative bribery, according to the Texas Ethics Commission.

The commission was answering a question about whether a PAC can ask House candidates who they support for speaker and whether they can base their decisions about support and funding on those answers. When we first wrote about it, they were looking at a draft that allowed sort of an "Ask, but Don't Tell" policy. But the commission revised that draft in their meeting this week. You can read the whole draft here; the summary follows:

Placing a candidate on notice that a general-purpose committee will base its decision on whether or not to support the candidate on the candidate’s responses to the specific questions listed above would constitute legislative bribery under Section 302.032 of the Government Code. Whether a candidate has been placed on such notice is a fact question and, as we have stated in previous opinions, an advisory opinion cannot resolve fact issues. The legal value of an Ethics Advisory Opinion is to provide a defense to prosecution for activities that, in the opinion of the Ethics Commission, are not in violation of the laws under the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission. We cannot provide that type of defense in this request because we cannot anticipate the different circumstances in which the specific questions listed above may be asked.

Too Friendly?

Texans for Public Justice filed a criminal complaint against a political action committee and House Speaker Tom Craddick Monday, saying they're trying to buy the March elections. A lawyer for Craddick says there's nothing to it.

The complaint centers on contributions given by Texas Jobs & Opportunity Build a Secure Future to three Democrats who have supported Craddick's speakership in the past. The PAC got its biggest contribution — $250,000 — from Craddick. And its sole beneficiaries, as of the last reports, were Reps. Kevin Bailey of Houston, Kino Flores of Palmview, and Aaron Peña of Edinburg. Each got $50,000 from the PAC.

The Austin American-Statesman ran a story on Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, last week, quoting her saying she didn't take money from that PAC because she didn't want the distraction of Craddick's support and wanted to remain free to support any other speaker candidate. TPJ apparently took that to mean there were strings attached to Craddick's proposal. Thus, their complaint to Travis County prosecutors.

Their letter says Craddick's a speaker candidate, that the reelections of the three Democrats would be valuable to his chances of reelection to that post, and that his contributions are thus illegal under the laws governing speaker elections.

District Attorney Ronnie Earle is looking into it, according to a written statement: "In order to determine whether there has been a violation of the Texas Speakers Act, it will be necessary to gather additional information. The Public Integrity Unit is in the process of gathering such information and steps are being taken to secure relevant documents."

Roy Minton, Craddick's lawyer, says there's no substance to the complaint. "They're trying to say this is a contribution to the speaker's race, and it ain't," he says. "It's just not there."

According to Minton, Craddick contributed to the PAC but didn't make the decisions on where its contributions should go. Either way, he sees no foul play.

The County Line, Redrawn

A Georgia doctor sued by a Fort Worth optometrist says the settlement terms were different from what we were told. And he says the original demand for libel damages from a chat-room posting — stated in a letter from a lawyer who's also a legislative honcho — was for $1 million.

Tom Annunziato, a Republican running against Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, sued Dr. Richard Schulze Jr. and two others for libel a couple of years ago for comments they posted on a private Internet chat room after seeing a picture of Annunziato — who's not a medical doctor — in surgical garb (see our original story on the lawsuits).

The first filings in those suits — Annunziato's lawyer was Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford — asked for $75,000 in damages from each doctor. And both Annunziato and King told us the doctors settled the suits by paying King's fees and apologizing for their remarks. But Schulze says in a letter to us that the initial demands were higher than that, the settlements lower. He also raises some questions about where the case was tried (though his lawyer said in our earlier story that the judge they got was fair). King and Annunziato didn't reply to our request for comment.

Political People and Their Moves

A long-awaited book on Texas political legend Bob Bullock is finally available. Bob Bullock: God Bless Texas, by Dave McNeely and Jim Henderson, is being published by the University of Texas Press. McNeely, who still writes a column for a number of Texas newspapers, is the dean of the Capitol Press Corps in Austin. Henderson is now a freelancer who worked at the Houston Chronicle and the Dallas Times Herald.

Out: Texas Youth Commission executive director Demitria Pope, forced to resign by that beleaguered agency's conservator. No replacement has been named. Pope, who compounded the controversies at TYC with an expensive office remodeling and a decision to use pepper spray to control inmates, said she'd stay until and unless she was forced out.

Pat Oxford moves into the chairmanship of Bracewell & Giuliani — a newly created position — while Mark Evans takes over as managing partner of the Houston-based firm. Oxford was chairman of Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid and helped bring the former New York Mayor into the law firm.

Reporter-turned-political consultant Mark Sanders is running for office. He says he's after one of three spots on the Eustace City Council (it's in northeast Texas, between Athens and Mabank). And one of his five goals if he's elected is to get the mayor to resign. He also wants to fill potholes and give a 30 percent raise to police officers. Sanders, who worked for the last two challengers to Gov. Rick Perry (Democrat Tony Sanchez and Republican-turned-independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn), is now raising horses. And running for office.

Comptroller Susan Combs named Sara Whitley her "senior advisor" and says she'll be the agency's liaison with business and advocacy leaders and groups. Whitley's been working for Combs for the last seven years.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed:

• Former congressional candidate and Public Utility Commissioner Becky Armendariz Klein of San Antonio as presiding officer of the Lower Colorado River Authority's board of director. Perry also added Tim Timmerman, an Austin real estate developer, to that board.

Kelly Edward Doster of Frisco, founder and COO of Network Traffic Controllers Inc. and a former city councilman, to the board of the Texas Small Business Industrial Development Corp.

• Brazos County Tax Assessor-Collector Kristeen Roe of Bryan as presiding officer of the state's Board of Tax Professional Examiners. He also named three new board members: James Childers of Canyon, chief appraiser of the Potter-Randall Appraisal District; P.H. "Fourth" Coates IV of Medina, chief appraiser of the Kerr Central Appraisal District; and Denton County Tax Assessor-Collector Steven Mossman of Flower Mound.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst named Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, head of the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education Finance, and named Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Property Tax Appraisal and Revenue Caps.

House Speaker Tom Craddick named three to the Texas Youth Commission Advisory Board: Grayson County District Attorney Joseph Brown of Sherman, Larry Carroll of Midland, who runs the Permian Basin Community Centers for Mental Health and Retardation, and Douglas Matthews, a Vernon veterinarian. That nine-member board advises the agency's conservator.

Quotes of the Week

Democratic strategist Ed Martin, on his party's presidential primary contest in Texas, in The Dallas Morning News: "It's going to be the machine vs. the tide."

Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, a Barack Obama supporter quoted in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the role of super delegates in his party's nominating process: "Just as we had that rude awakening in 2000, we may be about to find out in the Democratic nominating process that the voters' will does not always prevail. That's the power of these super delegates. There's going to be a lot of scrutiny about what role they play."

Rick Bolaños of El Paso, firing up a crowd of Democrats — by kicking Republicans — at a Hillary Clinton rally, quoted by The Newspaper Tree: "Tell those morons they need to read their gospels. When Jesus Christ was brought into Jerusalem, he was brought in on a donkey, not a damn elephant."

Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, quoted in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on rumors that the governor might appoint his former chief of staff to the Texas Transportation Commission: "We don't need political hacks in that position. We need people who understand the business. We need people who understand transportation. We don't need someone who's unpopular with the Legislature."

Lawrence Lerner with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, quoted in a Wired story about a Florida textbook fight: "Texas buys about 10 percent of all K-12 textbooks, and Florida buys another 8 percent. If they want creationism in their textbooks, Wyoming may not have a choice."

Imelda Ramirez, talking to The New York Times about charges against former Alice Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez and the attendant notoriety: "Alice wants to be known. It doesn't want to be known for a mayor who stole a dog."

Texas Weekly: Volume 25, Issue 7, 18 February 2008. Ross Ramsey, Editor. Copyright 2008 by Printing Production Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. One-year online subscription: $250. For information about your subscription, call (512) 302-5703 or email For news, email, or call (512) 288-6598.

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