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The Brief: November 16, 2009

It's as true in Texas' non-race for U.S. Senate as anywhere else: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

THE BIG CONVERSATION

It's as true in Texas' non-race for U.S. Senate as anywhere else: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It’s a markedly different political landscape since U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announced Friday that she would not quit her job to run for Governor full-time before the March primary.  And what it means is, for now, people will just have to stay put — though, gubernatorial appointments and special elections could still lie ahead.

Ambitious officials who suddenly find themselves with nowhere to go include: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Attorney General Greg Abbott, state Rep. Dan Branch, former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, Railroad Commissioners Michael Williams and Elizabeth Ames Jones, state Sen. Florence Shapiro, and former Secretary of State Roger Williams, all Republicans; and Houston Mayor Bill White and former Comptroller John Sharp, both Democrats.

All of the above — except Abbott, who was gunning for Dewhurst’s seat, and Branch and Cruz, who were both after Abbott’s — had their eye on the Senate seat Hutchison originally planned to vacate by the end of this year.  Some, like White and Sharp, have said they will keep running until the coveted seat becomes available.  Others, like Dewhurst and Branch, had previously hedged their bets by announcing their re-election campaigns, which will move forward unchanged.

“Let me also be crystal clear about one thing,” Hutchison said at a Texas Federation of Republican Women conference in Galveston on Saturday. “I will be resigning this Senate seat. For all of the good Republicans out there who plan on running for my seat next year, make no mistake. This is going to happen. It just isn't going to happen until after health care reform and cap and trade are finished.  And that will be after the primary election.”

Hutchison received support from U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-San Antonio, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, among others — including (sort of) Gov. Rick Perry.  His spokesperson, Mark Miner released a statement, saying “We appreciate that Senator Hutchison has taken the governor's advice and finally decided to make a decision to stay in Washington. Hopefully this will allow her to be a full-time senator for the people of Texas."

Today, Hutchison will attend a groundbreaking ceremony for new facilities at Dyess Air Force Base — moving forward, expect to hear more about her involvement with the military — and then it is back to Washington and what continues to be her day job.

CULLED:

• Rep. Brian McCall, R-Plano, decided that ten terms is enough and will not be running for re-election.  McCall made up one-eleventh of the Republican team that handed power to House Speaker Joe Straus’ in January and has been a key player on Straus’ leadership team, serving as chairman of the Calendars Committee. McCall’s HD-66 is pretty safely Republican, though it could become a front in the battle between moderate and conservative forces in the party.  Plano City Councilwoman Mabrie Griffith Jackson will leave her job as early as today to enter the race to replace him.  She will face at least one Wayne Richard in the Republican primary, though there’s plenty of time for others to join the race.

• It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality of the money in politics that gives people pause.  That’s the latest from a new University of Texas poll (conducted in part by Jim Henson and Daron Shaw, the same team that handled the recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll).  Corruption is perceived to be the worst at the federal level, where two-thirds of responders said the average level of ethics and honesty was “not so good” to “poor.”

Jaime O. Perez, chief of staff to County Judge Anthony Cobos, is in the running for the seat currently held by U.S. Congressman Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso.  He will face Tim Besco in the Republican primary.  Reyes is hoping to keep the seat himself. According to the El Paso Times, Perez is running “to halt deficit spending, secure the nation's borders, release nonviolent offenders from the nation's prisons, freeze nuclear weapon development around the world and eliminate earmark spending.”

Michael Banks will announce his plans to challenge former Democrat Rep. Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville, in the Republican primary. "I'm a better Republican than Chuck, because he's been a Democrat," Banks says.  If elected, Banks can tell that to another former Democrat — Gov. Rick Perry.

“One way to look at this is, we're all living longer than we were a few generations ago." — Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, on the many public officials, like himself, curbing their ambition until seats become available.

MUST READ:

GOP’s latest foes hail from Tea Party — Houston Chronicle

Perry’s 2009 travel records scrutinized — Associated Press

Latino caucus keeps an eye on Texas’ future — San Antonio Express-News

Is Rick Perry Trying To Push Out Cathie Adams? — The Come And Take It Blog

Shapleigh Ever After — The Texas Tribune

Time hasn't made immigration reform easier The Dallas Morning News

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