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Nip & Tuck

There aren't any real surprises on Gov. Rick Perry's agenda for the special session starting next week, and not much controversy, either: He clearly wants to get lawmakers through this thing in a hurry.

There aren't any real surprises on Gov. Rick Perry's agenda for the special session starting next week, and not much controversy, either: He clearly wants to get lawmakers through this thing in a hurry.

He wants lawmakers to come in on Wednesday, July 1, to change the expiration dates on several agencies to prevent them from going out of business in September 2010. We're told the Sunset schedule will be revised to push health and human services agencies, which were up for review next session to 2013. That makes room to put this year's neglected work on the 2011 list of things to do: Transportation, Insurance, Workers' Compensation, and Racing.

The governor wants lawmakers to authorize the sale of $2 billion in highway bonds (already approved by voters) and the use of a revolving credit fund that would be used to magically turn that $2 billion into $5 billion or more.

Both of those items appear to be devoid of controversy.

The third bit on the agenda is potentially problematic. Perry added so-called Comprehensive Development Agreements, or CDAs, to the agenda. That's the fancy phrase for public-private deals to build and operate roads and toll roads, and they can be a major source of contention. The Texas Department of Transportation's authority to enter into CDAs ends in September unless lawmakers do something, and highway officials contend that could threaten projects on the drawing boards and some that are already underway.

To get around any controversy in the special session, the governor and key lawmakers are drawing up a specific list of projects that would be authorized; that would allow projects to go forward without giving TXDOT the power to enter into any deals not okayed by the Legislature. Which projects? "It's still being drafted and we are working with lawmakers on it," says a spokeswoman for Perry. Others tell us the list won't include anything that steps on any local toes. That might be enough to settle everyone down and keep the session short.

While You're Here...

Some lawmakers want other work done in the special session.

Members can file bills within 30 days of a legislative session, so Perry's call for a special session next week makes it open season. First bill out of the chute isn't on the call: Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, filed legislation to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program to families with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. They'd pay premiums that poorer families don't have to pay for that insurance but would be able to get their kids insured for less than they'd pay — if the insurance is available — in the private market. That died at the end of the regular session, but advocates for the increase have pressed for another round.

Lawmakers and outside groups have made pitches for everything from eminent domain to Voter ID to legislation pardoning wrongly convicted murderers. Perry told reporters after calling the special session that he doesn't intend to add issues to the agenda. But that doesn't prevent members from filing bills, advocates from advocating, and so on. And Perry can change his mind, adding items to the list as he chooses.

How Long?

A special session can last up to 30 days, but it doesn't have to — especially when things are worked out in advance.

The short sessions since 1982 weighed in at 5 days, 3, 4, 3, 2, 4, 7, and 7*. And there haven't been any shorties since 1992, when lawmakers took a week in January to pass redistricting legislation, trying to beat the clock for the March primaries. (*Source these dates to the Legislative Reference Library: May 24-28, 1982; Sept. 7-9, 1982; June 22-25, 1983; May 28-30, 1985; June 2-3, 1987; June 4-7, 1990; Aug. 19-25, 1991; and Jan. 2-8, 1992.)

You're free to place your bets on this one. Here's the layout, if all goes as planned next week (!): Lawmakers will file three bills, pass them in their originating houses, send them across the rotunda, pass them again without changes, swing the gavels and getouttatown. If they'll suspend rules that require new stuff to cool off for three days before a vote, they can speed up. If not, they'll have built-in delays that could take them into the second week of July.

Gov. Rick Perry built in a false but significant deadline by starting the thing on July 1. If they're fast and suspend rules and play nice, everybody gets to go home to play with firecrackers and not come back; damage to vacation and other schedules would be minimized. If not, they'll be back on Monday, July 6, after their families complain about the shortened holiday weekend.

Bill Zapper

Gov. Rick Perry vetoed three dozen bills after the legislative session and used his line-item vetoes to cut $288.9 million from the state budget, including $97.2 million in general revenue spending. Most of those budget cuts had to do with legislation that didn't make it onto the books.

The vetoes included:

• Allowing child protective services to remove children from their homes in abuse investigations with the approval of an associate judge — without waiting for another judge's approval. That became a hot cause among social conservatives and the list of people asking for that veto eventually included Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Richardson — the House sponsor of the bill to which that provision was added.

• An expansion of the pre-kindergarten program in public schools that began the session as an ambitious $300 million proposal and passed at 1/12th that size. The bill had more than 100 co-sponsors in the House.

• Allowing public hospitals in small counties to hire doctors directly, and holding them legally responsible for the doctors' work. That bill had a lot of stuff that doesn't seem related, like establishing fines for people making disclosures of secret grand jury proceedings, and regulating the cremation of unidentified human remains.

• Barring the Texas Department of Transportation from using state funds to advertise and promote toll road projects.

• Lessening the influence of the State Board of Education in pre-screening members of the Teacher Retirement System (the governor currently chooses two from a list created by the SBOE), replacing one of those with a retired educator chosen by his or her peers.

• Removing teens convicted of consensual sex with other teens from the list of registered sex offenders.

Perry's budget veto proclamation is available here.

His messages on vetoes and on signatures are here.

And his executive order on textbooks — saying the State Board of Education should be among the decision-makers — is here.


Without signing it, the governor approved a law that would allow rebuilding of some beachfront homes, including one owned by an East Texas lawmaker.

One of the beneficiaries would be Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, and that initially prompted Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson to ask the governor for a veto.

But after talking with Rick Perry and his staff, Patterson now says Christian's provision is unconstitutional. He says Perry did the right thing by allowing the bill to become law and that the governor did so only after he was convinced the provision would wither and the rest of the bill is worth keeping: "With what I known now, namely that the Christian amendment to HB 770 clearly violates the Texas constitutions prohibition on local bills, the Governor has made the correct choice in allowing the bill to become law without his signature. The good provisions of HB 770 will become law, and the Christian amendment will change nothing. Texas beaches will remain as they have always been, open to all Texans, not just a few."

Schieffer's Exploration Ends, Campaign Begins

Former U.S. Ambassador Tom Schieffer officially tossed his hat into the Democratic primary race for governor, speaking in Fort Worth, Houston and Austin during the first leg of a statewide circuit this week.

Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, assured Schieffer within the last month that he won't be joining him in the gubernatorial field, Schieffer told a group of reporters in the State Capitol. Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, nominated Watson (or a Watson-esque Democrat) by name in a letter she wrote saying that she doesn't want to be governor this time around.

That doesn't precisely gibe with what Watson said in response to Van de Putte. He didn't rule anything in or out: "I intend to give this issue serious consideration, and I do not anticipate making any decisions in this regard until at least sometime after the end of the anticipated special session of the legislature, and probably not until the end of the summer."

A Texas Lyceum poll (see below) shows Schieffer (6 percent) running second to humorist Kinky Friedman (10 percent) in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Mark Thompson, the 2008 Democratic nominee for railroad commissioner, is also running but wasn't included in that poll. That poll had a margin of more than 6 percent; the candidate's are in a statistical tie, and seven in ten Democratic primary voters haven't made up their minds.

"I think 'undecided' is the runaway leader in both primaries," Schieffer said. "Those results weren't unexpected at this point. You just have to get out there and get your message out. And I think it resonates."

In the GOP primary, Gov. Rick Perry leads U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison 33 to 21 percent, with 41 percent undecided.

If his announcement speech is an indication of things to come, Texans will be hearing a lot from Schieffer about schools, jobs, health care, transportation and environment (in that order). Schieffer, whose friendship with and political support for Pres. George W. Bush could be a handicap among liberal primary voters, stressed his commitment to the Democratic Party by comparing himself to former U.S. House Speaker Sam Rayburn.

Schieffer mentioned that he assisted Gov. Mark White as late as his 1990 loss to Ann Richards. He said he helped out U.S. Army Secretary Pete Geren in his U.S. House campaigns in the late-90's as well. He didn't reveal how much money he hoped to raise, saying only that his goal is to have more money than anyone else by the end of the year.

Flanking Schieffer in Austin was Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston. Schieffer, Thompson and Hutchison were all sworn in as freshman House members in 1973. Schieffer's brother, Bob Schieffer, is the host of CBS's Face the Nation.

It's the Economy...

Texans are focused on the economy — and relatively pessimistic about the national outlook — according to a new public policy poll done by the Texas Lyceum.

Texans think the state economy is in better shape than the national economy and that their children will be better off or at least equal in prosperity. They also think the worst is ahead, and they're opposed to bailouts of carmakers and financial institutions. And just to turn that on it's head, they'd be willing to spend more money — even if it increases deficits — on roads, education, energy technology, and on affordability and accessibility of health care.

They're also solidly in favor of Voter ID, open to legalizing same-sex unions, and split almost evenly on taxpayer funding for stem cell research.

The telephone poll — The poll was conducted for the group by Daron Shaw of the University of Texas at Austin and by James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at UT — was done after the legislative session, during the June 5-12 period, and included 860 adults. The margin of error is +/- 3.34 percent. It was commissioned by the Texas Lyceum, a statewide leadership organization. Full poll results (and those for two previous polls) are online here.

Texans are split on the overall direction of things, with 48 percent saying the U.S. is moving in the right direction and 45 percent saying the country is on the wrong track. They overwhelmingly agree that the economy and unemployment are the most important issue facing the country (62 percent), with health care, at 12 percent, far behind. The most important issues facing the state? Economy/Unemployment (35 percent), Immigration/Border Control/Illegal Immigrants (13 percent), and Health Care/Vaccination (8 percent).

They believe the country is worse off than a year ago (58 percent), and put Unemployment and Jobs at the top of the economic issues in Texas (41 percent) in general, and for themselves and their families in particular (27 percent). Even so, many Texans say they are personally in about the same shape they were in a year ago (46 percent) or in better shape (17 percent) economically. For more than a third, however, the economic situation has worsened over the year. Two in five Texans think their children will be better off than they are and another 18 percent think their kids will be about the same economically. Texans are pessimistic about the immediate prospects for the national economy, with 53 percent saying the worst is yet to come. Almost two-thirds believe the Texas economy is healthier than the national economy, and only 8 percent think things are worse here than in the rest of the country.

The respondents were relatively confident about their own situations, but worry about the financial markets and how they're personally affected. More than three-quarters are "very" or "somewhat" confident they can make their mortgage or rent payments and 85 percent are confident in the stability of their banks. Three in five believe their jobs are secure. But Texans are split when asked about the safety of their retirement funds, and almost two-thirds are "not very" or "not at all" confident about investing in the stock market.

Nearly a third have stopped putting money in their retirement accounts in the last 12 months, but almost as many have started new retirement accounts in the same period, and one in five moved retirement money into less risky investments. About a fourth of respondents put off education or training for financial reasons and more than a third put off the purchase of a car. Smaller but significant numbers prematurely pulled money out of retirement accounts, put off their retirement dates, or put off selling their homes.

By a two-to-one margin, Texans think the federal government will spend too much money (rather than too little) trying to boost the economy. But they're choosy about where they're willing and unwilling to spend. Three in five (62 percent) would support higher spending on roads and infrastructure even if that would increase government deficits, but 71 percent oppose more spending to bail out financial institutions, and 64 percent oppose more spending to keep automakers from failure. Most (74 percent) favor more spending on energy technology, to make health care more affordable and accessible (66 percent), and to improve education systems (78 percent). Slightly more than half would favor tax cuts even if those cuts lead to deficits. They're divided on whether to increase regulation of financial institutions. And almost two-thirds believe automakers should be allowed to succeed or fail without government intervention.

Texans are confident that the economic stimulus is helping to make the downturn less severe than it would otherwise be (58 percent), and most are willing to wait to decide whether the Obama Administration policies are working. Their patience varies: 24 percent will wait two or more years; 20 percent will wait two years; 29 percent will wait a year; and 23 percent said they're already out of patience.

Texas turned down $556 million in unemployment insurance stimulus funds, and 58 percent of our respondents agree with Gov. Rick Perry that the money had too many strings attached. Another 34 percent thought the state did the wrong thing in turning down money to shore up that program.

Most Texans don't oppose same-sex unions, but they're split in their support for marriage or civil unions. While more than a third (36 percent) oppose either arrangement, 32 percent said they would support civil unions and another 25 percent think same-sex marriages should be permitted. The poll found a distinct partisan difference, with civil unions as the preference of 29 percent of Democrats, 31 percent of Independents and 37 percent of Republicans; same-sex marriage the preferred alternative of 36 percent of Democrats, 25 percent of Independents, and 14 percent of Republicans. Allowing neither of those alternatives was the preference of 29 percent of Democrats, 25 percent of Independents, and 43 percent of Republicans.

The recent legislative session ended without any resolution of the Voter ID issue, which divided Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature. But voters support the idea (71 percent), and more than half of them "strongly" support it (54 percent). It's a winner across party lines, with support among Democrats (58 percent), Independents (68 percent), and Republicans (86 percent). Support for Voter ID is stronger among Anglos (88 percent) and African-Americans (85 percent) than with Hispanics (69 percent), but all of those groups support the idea. And only 2 percent of Texans are undecided on the issue.

Texans are evenly split over the use of state tax dollars to fund embryonic stem cell research, with 48 percent saying they would support that and 46 percent saying they would oppose it. The intensity of feeling on that issue was roughly even, with 27 percent "strongly" in support and 30 percent "strongly" in opposition.

Disclosure Being Good for the Soul: Our editor helped kick around the questions that were asked in the poll and wrote the poll summaries to explain all of those numbers that resulted here and in the next item. Now you know.

Poll: Perry Ahead of Hutchison

Gov. Rick Perry leads U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison among likely Republican primary voters, according to a new poll done for the Texas Lyceum.

That survey has the governor leading his primary challenger by 12 percentage points — 33 to 21 percent — with a large number of voters — 41 percent — still undecided.

A small group — 1 percent — expressed support for state Rep. Leo Berman. Perry leads Hutchison among self-identified Republicans 40 percent to 18 percent, but that's also the group with the largest number of undecided voters, at 48 percent. Hutchison carries 49 percent of self-identified Democrats and Independents who say they plan to vote in the GOP primary, compared to 23 percent for Perry and 29 percent undecided.

Perry crowed about his poll numbers in an email to supporters. A spokesman pointed to Hutchison's performance. "After months of criticisms from Washington and tearing down Texas the Senator’s numbers continue to drop," said his spokesman, Mark Miner. "Governor Perry will continue to talk about creating jobs, cutting taxes, protecting private property rights, and improving education."

The Hutchison camp, which hyped earlier poll numbers that had her ahead, ignored her numbers and pointed at Perry's.

"To the extent this poll shows anything, it's that two-thirds of Texans don't want Rick Perry for yet another four years. His 39% support from 2006 is deteriorating," said Hans Klingler, spokesman for Hutchison.

Voters clearly haven't tuned into the Democratic primary contest — 81 percent haven't made a choice. Those who have like Kinky Friedman, with 10 percent; Tom Schieffer, with 6 percent, then state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, with 3 percent (Van de Putte announced this week that after looking at the race she doesn't intend to run).

They're largely undecided on their favorite candidates for U.S. Senate, should Hutchison resign late this year and prompt a special election in May 2010. Given the choice of six Republicans and two Democrats who've expressed interest in that race, 71 percent said they either haven't decided or didn't want to say. Houston Mayor Bill White led the pack with 9 percent, followed by Attorney General Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, with 4 percent; Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones and former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, 3 percent; and state Sen. Florence Shapiro, former Comptroller John Sharp, and Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, at 2 percent. Sharp and White are Democrats; the others are Republicans.

The poll was conducted for the Texas Lyceum, a statewide leadership organization, by Daron Shaw of the University of Texas at Austin and by James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at UT.

They polled 860 people by telephone on June 5-12. The margin of error is a little different on each part of the poll. Everyone was asked about the U.S. Senate race and the approval/disapproval questions, and the margin of error there is +/-3.34 percent (which means, in that Senate result, that everyone in the pack is in a statistical tie right now). The subgroup saying they were "certain" or "likely" to vote in the GOP primary was smaller, so the margin of error on that gubernatorial primary is +/- 6.04 percent; in the Democratic primary, it's +/-6.14 percent. Full poll results (and those for two previous polls) are online here.

Texans think President Barack Obama is doing a "very" or "somewhat" good job with the economy (63 percent), and they like the way he's handling his job as president more generally (68 percent). The number of Texans who don't have an opinion on either of those two assessments was very small.

Asked to grade Perry's performance, 57 percent said they approve and 30 percent said they don't approve. Hutchison got good marks from 65 percent and bad ones from 17 percent. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has the approval of 55 percent and disapproval of 19 percent. The Texas Legislature, which finished the regular session several days before the polling began, has the approval of 58 percent of respondents and disapproval of 28 percent — numbers almost identical to Perry's.

The Numbers that Count

Unemployment in Texas hit 7.1 percent in May, up from 6.6 percent in April and 4.5 percent in May 2008, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. TWC said the number of unemployed Texans rose by 24,700 in May, and said the state has lost 222,600 jobs over the last 12 months. Still, that's better than the national numbers. U.S. unemployment was 9.1 percent in May, up from 8.6 percent in April and 5.2 percent in May 2008. The state had a total of 822,000 people out of work in May, compared with 519,100 a year ago. The worst spots were in McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, at 9.4 percent unemployment; Beaumont-Port Arthur, at 9.1 percent; and Brownsville-Harlingen, at 9 percent. The lowest rates: Lubbock, at 4.6 percent; Amarillo, at 4.7 percent; and College Station-Bryan, at 4.9 percent.

Van de Putte: Never Mind

Leticia Van de Putte says she won't run for the Democratic nomination for governor next year — she says it would be a nasty race, particularly for a Latina — but is encouraging fellow state Sen. Kirk Watson to run.

"I have, indeed, given it very serious thought, and while I would love to believe, tongue firmly planted in cheek, that this pent-up desire on the part of so many Texans for me to run for governor is solely because of some perceived superior leadership ability and vast intellect of mine, I have to reluctantly admit that it’s not as much about me as it is about Republican failures..." she said in a written statement. "... I intend to lobby Senator Watson to run for governor, and I’ll wholeheartedly support him if he does. But if he declines, Democrats should recruit and support someone who, like Watson, is energetic, pragmatic, focused, and smart; and who can fully energize Democratic supporters while also attracting a broad range of independent voters in every region of the state."

That's a slap of sorts at Fort Worth's Tom Schieffer, who is announcing his bid for that nomination this week. It's also, potentially, a nudge to get Watson to run for Guv and not for Lite Guv, an office of interest to several Democratic senators, including Van de Putte, should Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst decide to run for something else.

Watson isn't committing to anything and isn't announcing what he'll do next year.

"I am very flattered by Senator Van de Putte’s confidence in me, and I strongly agree with her about the need for improved leadership in Texas... " Watson said. "I intend to give this issue serious consideration, and I do not anticipate making any decisions in this regard until at least sometime after the end of the anticipated special session of the legislature, and probably not until the end of the summer."

Schieffer ducked the swat and had nice words for the San Antonio Democrat: "Senator Van de Putte has been a respected member of the Senate for many years. She would have been a formidable opponent in the Democratic primary. I am grateful she will not be running for governor this year. I look forward to sitting down with her to discuss my candidacy because I believe I can be the kind of candidate she can support, both in the Democratic primary and the general election."

Meanwhile, Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, told The Dallas Morning News that — having met with the Rick Perry a few times — he might get out of the GOP contest for governor.

Political Notes

The U.S. Supreme Court turned down an opportunity to undo the federal Voting Rights Act in a lawsuit started when a Texas utility district moved a polling place without permission.

Here's the ruling in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One vs. Holder.

The court was asked to do two things: To allow the MUD to "bail out" of the Voting Rights Act under provisions that have previously been used only by whole counties, and to strike down the part of that law that requires federal officials to pre-clear voting changes in states and locations where voting discrimination occurred in the past. The court said okay on bailouts, and left pre-clearance alone.

That would have had an impact on redistricting in Texas and elsewhere next year, but with this ruling, new state political districts will have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice before they can be used. And that'll be the first time in the history of redistricting that a Democratic administration's Justice Department has had the say-so on those maps. Since the VRA was passed in the 1960s, Republican presidents have been in office each time the maps were drawn in 1971, 1981, 1991, and 2001.

• GOPAC, a 30-year-old national Republican political action committee that figured in the GOP surges in Washington in the 1980s and 1990s, now has a state branch, GOPAC-TX, aimed at increasing the number of Republicans in the state Legislature, particularly the House. That group, headed by Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, hopes to raise $4 million and will use the money to back Republicans in open seats and in challenges to incumbent Democrats. They say they won't go after any of their own incumbents in the primaries. Another — the Texas House Republican Committee — will raise money for Republican candidates, too. It's headed by Travis Griffin, who previously worked for Gov. Rick Perry's campaign and for the Stars Over Texas PAC that helped House Republicans.

• Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones will get some help from former U.S. Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher and his wife Mica. They've agreed to be honorary finance chairs for her campaign for U.S. Senate.

• Put Democrat Lainey Melnick in the race for CD-21, where U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, is the incumbent. She's from Austin, filed papers this week, and has a website up and running. The actual filing for the ballot isn't due until the end of the year, but this lets her start raising money for the contest.

Chuck Wilson, a Waco Republican, plans to run against U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, in CD-17. He's just getting started and has a website in the construction stage.

Kendra Yarbrough Camarena is running as a Democrat in HD-138, currently represented by Dwayne Bohac, R-Katy, and formerly represented by Democrat Ken Yarbrough, D-Houston. That's her dad.

Political People and Their Moves

Tony Garza, the former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Texas Secretary of State and Texas Railroad Commissioner, signed on with Austin-based Vianovo to handle that public affairs firm's business in Mexico. Garza, who will remain in Mexico, will be a partner in the firm and will also head a new business called Vianovo Ventures. Separately, Garza announced that he has joined White & Case, an international law firm, as counsel. Garza, a rising star in Texas Republican politics, said earlier this year — as he was leaving the ambassador job — that he doesn't plan to run for office again.

Addie Horn is retiring as commissioner of the Department of Aging and Disability Services at the end of August. She's held that post since early 2006 and presided over the agency during a federal investigation that forced the state to improve its care of mentally disabled Texans.

Ray Sullivan is returning to Gov. Rick Perry's office, this time as chief of staff. Sullivan will replace Jay Kimbrough, who's staying on as a senior advisor. Sullivan was the spokesman for Perry's 1998 campaign for lieutenant governor, and worked for him in that office and then when Perry became governor. He was also a spokesman for then-Gov. George W. Bush. Sullivan left government in 2002 to run a public relations outfit. His wife, Leslie Rawl Sullivan, is Perry's campaign fundraiser.

Perry appointed Michael Massengale of Houston to the 1st Court of Appeals. The new judge has been a partner at Baker Botts, and replaced Tim Taft. Massengale will have the job until next year's elections.

Dr. William Henrich got the appointment to head the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. The board of regents named him to replace Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, who was earlier named the UT System chancellor.

Michael Kelley moves from government relations at the Texas Department of Public Safety to interim chief of the driver's license division. He's apparently in the running for the permanent job.

Resigned: Samuel Kent, a U.S. district judge serving a federal prison term for lying about sexual advances on two women who worked for him. Congress was working on his impeachment when he resigned.

Recovering: Dallas Morning News writer Wayne Slater felt some chest pains at home over the weekend, and ended up getting a valve repaired during open-heart surgery this week. All is well, and you can send him a note:

Quotes of the Week

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, writing to his mistress, "Maria", in an email obtained by The State: "As I mentioned in our last visit, while I did not need love fifteen years ago — as the battle scars of life and aging and politics have worn on this has become a real need of mine. You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that is so fitting with your beauty. I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificently gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curves of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of night's light — but hey, that would be going into the sexual details... "

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, in The New York Times: "I disagree with the idea that this shows problems for the modern Republican Party. I think instead it shows that sexual attractiveness of limited-government conservatism."

Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, talking about running for governor with the El Paso Times: "The votes that I would be drawing would be from Governor Perry, because Senator Hutchison is to the left of both of us. I do not want to do that. I do not want to take votes from Governor Perry, which would perhaps make him lose this election."

Democrat Tom Schieffer, talking about the governor's race in the Houston Chronicle: "What I want to do in the campaign is to lay these things out and talk about 'em and try to come up with alternatives. And also remind people that this is not going to be easy. It's going to be really hard. And if they want to do that, I get to be governor. And if they don't want to do that, I can go make money, and I've done my civic duty of trying to lay it out."

House Speaker Joe Straus III, quoted by The Dallas Morning News when asked, in Plano, whether Rep. Brian McCall, R-Plano, can keep his post as chairman of Calendars: "Whatever he wants."

Texas Weekly: Volume 26, Issue 25, 29 June 2009. Ross Ramsey, Editor. Copyright 2009 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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