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The Brief: December 11, 2009

If you trust the latest polling, Gene Locke has some sprinting to do today if he wants to catch up in the race to be Houston’s next mayor.

THE BIG CONVERSATION

 If you trust the latest polling, Gene Locke has some sprinting to do today if he wants to catch up in the race to be Houston’s next mayor.

 With Saturday’s run-off election looming on the horizon, a new 11 News/KUHF Radio poll shows Houston Controller Annise Parker is ahead of former City Attorney Locke by 13 points.

Parker scored 49 percent to Locke’s 36 with 15 percent saying they remained undecided.

Previous polling had put the two candidates in a dead heat.  This is the largest lead Parker has had so far.

According to KHOU’s Lee McGuire, “Parker has higher support than Locke among men (55 percent to 34 percent), a slight edge among women (46 percent to 38 percent) , and a wide lead overall among white/Caucasian voters (63 percent to 25 percent), the poll shows. Locke wins among African American voters, 65 percent to 23 percent.”

The poll also suggests that Locke is doing better among Democrats, while Parker is doing better among Republicans and independents.

In the weeks following the general election, Locke has courted conservative endorsements, including anti-gay activists and conservative religious groups that sent out mailers — which Locke attempted to distance himself from — citing Parker's "homosexual behavior." 

Parker is openly gay — and could be Houston’s first openly gay mayor.  Locke would be the city’s second black mayor.

CULLED:

 Are taxpayers subsidizing U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s campaign? The Houston Chronicle’s R.G. Ratcliffe took a look and found that in four of five trips to events that earned Hutchison $310,000 for her campaign, the travel costs were split by her campaign and federal tax dollars, as permitted by Senate rules.  Ratcliffe writes that this “could be a violation of state election law depending on when the campaign event was scheduled and whether the official business was created to justify a fundraiser.”  The Hutchison campaign says travel was always planned around official activities to which campaign events were later tacked on.

•After over four years as chairman of the University of Texas Board of Regents, James Huffines says he will step down in March.  He will remain on the board, but someone else will occupy the head seat.  Early predictions on who that might be have tended toward Paul Foster and Colleen McHugh. 

• At a Thursday press conference held by environmental activist groups, State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, pledged to “sponsor a bill to close the loophole in the Compact Law allowing any state to dump radioactive waste on Texas without approval by the Legislature” next session. 

• Musical group The Platters are reviewing their legal options after the Republican Party of Texas used their song “The Great Pretender” in an ad attacking gubernatorial candidate Bill White.  The Austin Chronicle’s Richard Whittaker has been watching the drama unfold.

Women are going to be the ones who vote for me more because women have more sense." — Farouk Shami, a Democratic candidate for governor, as tweeted by the Austin American Statesman’s Jason Embry. 

MUST READ:

• Border sheriffs get fed fundingSan Antonio Express-News

• Texas lawmakers seeking fix for prepaid tuition planFort Worth Star-Telegram

• Editorial: Our mysterious senior senatorAustin American-Statesman 

• Race to the Bottom Line — The Texas Tribune

• Asarco's nearly $1.8 billion settlement will pay for environmental cleanupAssociated Press

• Lucio: 2010 Census count will be a landmark for the Valley and Texas — Rio Grande Guardian

• Tom Pauken says Susan Combs is funding leftistsTrail Blazers

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