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The Brief: December 2, 2009

With the filing deadline fast approaching, are Democrats beginning to feel some holiday cheer?


With the filing deadline fast approaching, are Democrats beginning to feel some holiday cheer?

With Houston Mayor Bill White expected to announce a run for Governor on Friday, suddenly the party has hope that the still empty down-ballot races might fill out in a meaningful way.

Here’s what Democratic consultant Harold Cook told The Texas Tribune on Tuesday: “With White's emergence as the probable Democratic nominee for governor, you have a newfound excitement among the activists but you also kind of have this realization among other A-team Democratic leadership that this could be a good year for us on a statewide ballot.”

The Dallas Morning News reports that former U.S. Congressman Nick Lampson, D-Stafford, is now mulling a run for comptroller — which would be a start.

Democrats have four candidates other than White running for governor — Hank Gilbert, Kinky Friedman, Felix Alvarado, and Farouk Shami — but empty slots for lieutenant governor, comptroller, and land and ag commissioners (a list that includes three positions on the important five-person Legislative Redistricting Board).

The Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey notes, “If the Democrats don't pull a full and serious ballot together, the LRB — and the Republicans — will be in position in 2011 to set the political maps they want for the next decade.”

Rumors are swirling that Gilbert might make a move for land or ag commissioner, though his gubernatorial campaign staff says he’s got no plans to leave that race. The future of state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, is also an open question since he announced he would not seek re-election.

Houston lawyers Barbara Ann Radnofsky and Jeff Weems are expected to file on Thursday for attorney general and Texas Railroad Comissioner, respectively. Radnofsky will likely not face a challenge from former state Rep. Steve Wolens, D-Dallas.  His wife, former Dallas mayor Laura Millertells the Austin American-Statesman that he’s not running for statewide office this year, though she hopes he does “sooner or later for the good of the state of Texas.”


• Radio silence may be broken today on the little matter of state Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, who announced his retirement in September.  Earlier in the week, state Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, announced that he would not run to replace Ogden as anticipated and that Ogden would be getting back in the game.  The Ogden camp has remained mum on the news, much to the chagrin of Ben Bius, the only Republican currently running for the seat for real.

• Former House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, may have lost his powerful position in the Texas Legislature, but he still holds some sway in conservative circles. Today he will be officially recognized as the 2010 National Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council at the group’s annual States & Nation Policy Summit.

• The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced the formation of a new Office of Water. According to their website, “The new office will encompass the three existing major water divisions in the agency: Water Planning, Water Supply, and Water Quality.”

• President Barack Obama announced his plan to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and commence withdrawal by July 2011 last night.  Here are some reactions from Texas leaders:

  • U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Dallas: “I’m not sure why President Obama is not giving General McChrystal the 40,000 troops he asked for. Hopefully he will ask NATO for the other 10,000 — a move I would support. They need to step up to the plate and the president now needs to apply some pressure.”
  • U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-San Antonio: “Setting a draw down date before this surge has even begun is a mistake, and it sends a mixed message to both our friends and our enemies regarding our long-term commitment to success.”
  • U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston: "Although I do not agree that sending additional troops to Afghanistan is the best and most effective strategy to provide for the stability of Afghanistan, I respect and admire the President's thorough deliberation and thoughtful articulation of his decision.” 
  • U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock "My concern is that this is more of a political plan than a war plan. The President appears to be trying to meet his campaign pledge to fight the war in Afghanistan, while placating the demand to withdraw at the same time."
  • U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio: “We have spoken of timelines and benchmarks before. It is past time for us to take them seriously and to begin the process of bringing our men and women home.”
  • U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands: The President left a lot of questions unanswered, chief among them: Is he committed to winning in Afghanistan?”
  • U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio: "I can't believe, after so many years, that we have not gotten bin Laden. That is crazy."

“So what? Make me come to order!” — Dallas Commissioner John Wiley Price to County Judge Jim Foster on being told to calm down during a Commissioners Court meeting.


Troubled deal could impact McCaul's bidAustin American-Statesman

Candidates on attack during heated debateHouston Chronicle 

• Grading KBH's Education Plans — The Texas Tribune

Advisory panel proposes tuition increase at UT — The Lowdown on Higher Ed

Jurors defend verdict that led to Texas executionAssociated Press

• Analysis: Obama's speech has something for everybody dislike Texas on the Potomac


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State government Bill White John Cornyn John R. Carter Kevin Brady Sheila Jackson Lee State agencies Tom Craddick