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Watch That Date

Monday is K-Day. If Kay Bailey Hutchison quits before then, the election to replace her can be held on November 3. If she quits after that date, the replacement race will be held later.

Monday is K-Day. If Kay Bailey Hutchison quits before then, the election to replace her can be held on November 3. If she quits after that date, the replacement race will be held later.

How much later? That would be up to Gov. Rick Perry. If he does nothing, the special election for U.S. Senate would be held on the next uniform election date, in May. He can declare an emergency, though, and set the election on almost any Tuesday or Saturday, so long as it's at least 36 days after Hutchison's resignation date and not on the days the primary elections or their runoffs are held.

That assumes Hutchison will quit, as she's indicated, in the October-November time frame. She doesn't have to quit. Some of her advisors and supporters think she ought to stay in office. Quitting would let her concentrate on the race and get her out of whatever fights in Washington come later this year. But Perry has already tagged her as part of the federal government and she has said (in spite of that bit about October and November above) that she'd like to be there for votes on health care and maybe on cap and trade. Remaining in office also gives her political leverage she'd instantly lose as a former senator. If she stays, and loses in March, she'll still be the senior senator from Texas. Perry's not going anywhere, and he'll still be governor in April. If one's still gonna be here, win or lose, and the other one isn't, the political calculations for people who are currently on the fence are less risky: Choose the one who can hurt you later.

Hutchison and Perry both have reason to avoid a November 3 special election. That's the date of the Houston mayoral election, and current Mayor Bill White, who's running for Senate if Hutchison quits, would have an advantage over other candidates. His home county and the counties that border it produced 22 percent of the state's votes in last year's presidential election. That's roughly the same Houston media market where he's been on TV regularly since he was elected mayor in 2003. And if he were to run and lose a special election for Senate in November, he'd be able to dust himself off and try for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010. The ads in the Senate race would form the foundation for a statewide race for Guv. That's not something either Republican wants.

Hutchison has an additional incentive: It wouldn't help her candidacy for governor much if her resignation from the Senate caused that position to flip from the Republicans to the Democrats. Several Republicans in the race could split those votes, which could be an advantage to White or to former Comptroller John Sharp. Republicans will tell you it's a Republican state and the seat ought to remain in the GOP column, but if you're Hutchison, why risk it?

—Morgan Smith of The Texas Tribune contributed to this story.

Who Knew?

Gov. Rick Perry's day is Tuesday, when (according to an email he sent this week to supporters), he'll announce for governor. In case you were wondering about his plans. The governor's folks aren't talking openly about the official announcement, but they're planning an Internet broadcast that'll be streamed to your screen from wherever it is he plans to be talking. The pitch, from his email: "If you're as tired as I am of Washington politicians running up the tab on hard-working Texans, there's something we can do about it. Join me for an online discussion Tuesday, September 29, at 11:30 a.m. CDT (10:30 in El Paso) as we 'Talk Texas'. Watch your personal video below to learn more. Thanks, God bless you, and may He continue to bless the great State of Texas."

Stranger Than Fiction

True facts from the Texas political world from just one week:

• Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, debuted on Dancing with the Stars, starting with a wiggling back to the camera and then lip-syncing "Wild Thing" and sliding across the dance floor on his knees...

• Gov. Rick Perry got caught on a video joking that Texas ducked the recession — on a day when a state agency announced unemployment is now at 8 percent...

• U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's campaign admitted a couple of days later that they were the ones who taped that speech — and the ones who put it on the Internet and in their press releases without his next line, when Perry acknowledged economic trouble but predicted Texas will lead other states in the recovery...

• Democratic gubernatorial candidate Hank Gilbert started a three-day tour of the state that included a stop in Austin where reporters outnumbered supporters and where the candidate got the names of two opponents wrong, referring to "Ted" Schieffer (it's "Tom") and to Kay Bailey "Hutchinson" (it's Hutchison)...

• Democratic Lite Guv candidate Marc Katz — who runs a popular deli in Austin — led local reporters from on a wild goose chase that ended with him at the Secretary of State's office to find out, with cameras rolling, that it's too early to file for office and that the SOS isn't where that's done, anyhow...

Hey, Brother...

The Texas unemployment rate rose again in August — to 8 percent — according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

That's up from 7.9 percent in July and is higher than the 5.3 percent recorded in August 2008.

The national unemployment rate is even higher, at 9.7 percent. It was at 6.1 percent a year ago.

Unemployment in some parts of the state exceeds the national average, according to state officials. In McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, the rate last month was 11.4 percent. It reached 10.8 percent in Beaumont-Port Arthur, and 10.5 percent in Brownsville-Harlingen. The lowest unemployment rate in Texas last month was 5.6 percent in Amarillo.

About That Sticky Quote

It turns out Gov. Rick Perry didn't stop talking about the recession when the posted version of his speech in Houston, and his next sentence made some sense of the one he's getting pasted for.

Perry's first line, as presented via YouTube last week:

"Someone had put a report out that the first state that's coming out of the recession is gonna be the State of Texas... I said, 'We're in one?'"

Here's the second line that the Kay Bailey Hutchison campaign cut out of what they posted last week:

"Seriously, though, the fact is that because we have positioned ourselves so well economically, we're going to be the first state to start showing that major recovery and the rest of the states will follow us out of it, whenever that's going to be."

KHOU-TV found the rest of the tape and the folks who edited it (look to the senior senator from Texas). And here's the full audio clip.

No Recession Here

Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison have raised $29 million for their gubernatorial campaigns, and before that race is really underway, Texans for Public Justice has started analyzing the prodigious fundraising.

TPJ's report is available online. It concentrates on the two Republicans because their campaign treasuries far outstrip those of the other candidates (Democrat Tom Schieffer has yet to break $1 million in his reported campaign contributions).

Some highlights:

• Perry has raised more money from big donors (giving $50,000 or more) than Hutchison, getting $3.4 million from those sources while she brought in $1.7 million from the bigs.

• The governor has raised more money from out of state than the senator, pulling eight percent of his money from beyond Texas borders; she got two percent of her money from donors outside of Texas.

• The report lists 38 contributors who gave both Perry and Hutchison more than $15,000, ten of whom contributed to Perry after Hutchison established her state finance committee.

References Available Upon Request

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is giving House candidate Milton Rister a boost, lending his name and presence to an Austin fundraiser for his former employee.

Rister, a Georgetown Republican, is running in HD-20, where Dan Gattis is the current state representative. Gattis is running for Senate, leaving the seat open.

Rister is a former executive director of the Texas GOP, former head of the Texas Legislative Council, and a Republican political op who helped former Speaker Tom Craddick win a Republican majority — and thus, the speakership — in the Texas House.

He's got at least two opponents looking at that seat: Dr. Charles Schwertner of Georgetown and Cedar Park City Councilman Stephen Thomas.

Walking Shoes

Dr. Sam Harrison, a potential candidate for the Texas Senate seat now held by Steve Ogden, says he'll endorse Dan Gattis instead of running himself.

That leaves Gattis, currently a Republican state representative from Georgetown, with one potential opponent for now. Ben Bius, who ran unsuccessfully for the House earlier this decade, has expressed an interest in Ogden's job. Gattis is moving quickly, though, and already got some county GOP chairs — including Bius' home county leader — to endorse him.

Ogden, who's been in the state Legislature since 1990, announced a couple of weeks ago that he won't seek another term.

Flotsam & Jetsam

Attorney General hopeful Ted Cruz says he's got endorsements from the majority of the State Republican Executive Committee. He counts 33 on his side out of 62 (there are two in each state Senate district). Cruz is a contingent candidate who plans to run if current AG Greg Abbott leaves office. Abbott's been looking at a run for lieutenant governor. State Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, is also interested in the AG gig if Abbott leaves.

Themes: Democrats Tom Schieffer and Hank Gilbert and Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison are all talking about the state's high dropout rates in their bids for governor. A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics said the average freshman graduation rate in Texas in 2005-06 was 72.5 percent. Those are the students who started high school but, for one reason or another, didn't finish.

For your list: Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, says he'll seek a fifth term in the Texas House. That's HD-2.

Francisco "Quico" Canseco is in the running — again — for the U.S. House seat currently occupied by Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio. CD-23 is within striking distance for a Republican, by the numbers. It's got a Texas Weekly Index of 0.2, meaning that the average statewide Republican candidate beat the average statewide Democratic candidate by that margin in the last two election cycles. So, on paper, it's a draw. But Rodriguez won with 56 percent last year, and Canseco lost in the GOP primary.

Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, has a book out. It's "Getting Out of Grover's Tub." The title is a reference to a famous Grover Norquist line about shrinking government until it's small enough to drown in the bathtub. The book's got it's own website, here.

Political People and Their Moves

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kay Bailey Hutchison adds Keats Norfleet as a "senior advisor" to her campaign. He was the deputy campaign manager for Hutchison's last race and most recently was president of The Election Group (one of the offspring of the Fort Worth-based Eppstein Group). Norfleet adds some Texas experience to the campaign and starts as a voice that Hutchison heeds. She originally had Eppstein and company on the campaign team; this gives her back the member of that crew who had the most time working with her. John Shults will take over as president of The Election Group.

Dr. Bob Hillman, who is the state veterinarian and the head of the Texas Animal Health Commission, will retire at the end of the year after almost seven years at the agency. Before he had the job here, he was the state veterinarian of Idaho.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed:

Lori Valenzuela of San Antonio to the 437th district court. She was previous an attorney and a part-time magistrate judge. And she's a former assistant district attorney.

Lisa Jarrett of San Antonio to the 436th district court. She's also a private practice attorney and a former assistant DA.

Mary Pincoffs Wilson of Austin to the board of regents at Texas Woman's University in Denton. She's a former foster family chairman for Helping Hand Home for Children.

Lowell Keig of Austin to the board of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. He's general counsel of Youth and Family Centered Services and was at one point a candidate for executive director of the state's Health and Human Services Commission.

Borden Bell of Texarkana and David Neeley of Mount Pleasant to the Sulphur River Basin Authority's board. Bell is retired from business and Neeley is a senior consultant for the Elliot Auto Group.

Cary "Mac" Abney of Marshall, Connie Wade of Longview, and Connie Ware of Marshall to the Sabine River Authority board of directors. Wade and Ware are being reappointed; Abney is new to the board. Abney is a CPA. Wade is Gregg County Clerk. Ware is a former teacher and the president and CEO of the Marshall Chamber of Commerce.

Jerry Daniel of Truscott, George "Wilson" Scaling of Henrietta, and Cliff Skiles of Hereford to the Red River Authority's board. They're all being reappointed. Daniel is a rancher and real estate investor. Scaling owns Scaling and Co. Skiles is a veterinarian.

Sue Cleveland of Lumberton, Jimmie Ruth Cooley of Woodville, and Kathleen Thea Jackson of Beaumont to the board of the Lower Neches Valley Authority. All three are being reappointed. Cleveland is president of Cleveco Construction Co. Cooley is retired from the real estate business. Jackson is an engineer and public affairs manager with Exxon Mobil Corp.

• Dr. William Purifoy of Fort Worth to chair the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners and appointed Dr. James Chancellor of Garden Ridge to that board. Purifoy is a periodontist. Chancellor is a dentist.

• Former Harris County Clerk Charles Bacarisse of Houston to chair the Texas Department of Information Resources, and named Richard Moore of Goliad to that board. Bacarisse is vice president for advancement at Houston Baptist University, and Moore is a retired veep of business and administration at UT Medical Branch in Galveston.

Zoe Barinaga of Houston to the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority. She's a marketing manager with Exxon Mobil Chemical Co.

Deaths: Don Yarborough, who ran for governor and for lieutenant governor and helped lead the liberal wing of the Texas Democratic Party in the 1960s. He was 83.

Quotes of the Week

Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, in the Waco Tribune-Herald, on redistricting: "It's Republicans vs. Democrats. Period. If you all can remember, a few years ago we went through that process here, and it was very emotional. It will be emotional again."

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, telling The Dallas Morning News he's interested in becoming the next U.S. Senator from Texas: "I have asked to go speak to the governor about an appointment, but he has not encouraged it. He just said he'd be happy to sit down with me and talk about it. I think I'd be a good candidate."

Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, in the Houston Chronicle, in the same subject: "I would have an interest if the governor thought I was the most conservative and best candidate to serve."

Pierre Oliver Gama Valdes, a Mexican businessman who moved his family to San Antonio after drug dealers threatened his family, in the San Antonio Express-News: "I had money in the bank. I had a big house. I have buildings and properties in Mexico City. But I would rather wash dishes in the U.S. than risk my family's life in Mexico."

Jeff Blackburn with The Innocence Project, talking to the Associated Press about "scent lineups," where dogs identify suspects based on their smell: "This is exactly the kind of down-home voodoo that jurors like because, hey, everybody likes a dog. Why don’t they just have a guy who says he has a unicorn that can figure out who criminals are?"


Texas Weekly: Volume 26, Issue 36, 28 September 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 biz@texasweekly.com. For news, email ramsey@texasweekly.com, or call (512) 288-6598.

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