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The Brief: December 14, 2009

Kinky Friedman’s song “Before All Hell Breaks Loose” begins, “Time to resign from the human race.” Today, we will find out if he thinks it’s time to do the same in the governor's race.

THE BIG CONVERSATION

Kinky Friedman’s song “Before All Hell Breaks Loose” begins, “Time to resign from the human race.”   Today, we will find out if he thinks it’s time to do the same in the governor's race.

Exactly one week ago, Friedman was expected to announce his intentions regarding his bid for governor as a Democrat.  Instead, his campaign released an announcement saying, “ Kinky has invested 7 months and a lot of money in this race and is not going to rush a decision that will so significantly impact the ticket. He is taking a few more days to visit with his supporters and friends. Kinky also wants to visit with both Mr. Shami and Mayor White before making a final decision.”

Those meetings happened this weekend and, according to Friedman’s general consultant Colin Strother, were “very, very good.”  It was the first time Bill White and Friedman had met — Farouk Shami, on the other hand, is an old friend of Friedman’s and was a significant financial backer of his 2006 independent gubernatorial bid.

Now, Shami is in the race himself and pledging to spend $10 million dollars — and establishment favorite White is similarly well-heeled. Friedman may simply not have enough money to play.  He acknowledged as much in campaign stops this weekend.

Friedman indicated that he will likely move down the ballot.  The Democratic ticket has several open slots available — comptroller and land commissioner are examples (though, Friedman doesn’t seem like the comptroller type). Friedman could also pull a Hank Gilbert — drop out of the governor’s race and run for agriculture commissioner.  Of course, if he did that, he would be pitted, once again, against rancher Hank Gilbert.

As always, stay tuned to The Texas Tribune for all of your relevant Kinky Friedman needs.

CULLED:

History was made in Houston on Saturday.  With about 47 percent of the vote, Gene Locke became the first Houston mayoral candidate to lose to an openly gay opponent. City Controller Annise Parker, who won a comfortable 53 percent, will take office as Houston’s new mayor on Jan. 1.  She has already begun discussing the transition with outgoing mayor Bill White’s team. The New York Times noticed that not only is Houston the nation’s fourth largest city — making it the largest city to elect an openly gay mayor — but Texas is “a conservative state where voters have outlawed gay marriage” and Houston is a “city where a referendum on granting benefits to same-sex partners of city employees was soundly defeated.”  According to the Houston Chronicle, at the top of Parker’s to-do list are budget cuts and finding a new chief of police.

 • El Paso City Rep. Beto O’Rourke doesn’t think U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes —chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — has done enough to address issues in Juarez.  The result: a good chance O’Rourke will challenge Reyes for his seat.  An announcement is expected as soon as Tuesday, according to the El Paso Times.

• A former legislative aide of gaffe-prone state Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell, is now her primary opponent.  Lance Gooden, an insurance and risk management consultant, filed at the end of last week, saying, “It’s high time we have a representative who actually acts like a conservative instead of one who just talks about it.”

• The time has come to clean up Texas politics. A 10-month overhaul of the Texas Capitol’s dome — and the Goddess of Liberty statue on top of it — will begin in February or March.

“Folks who can afford tummy tucks for Christmas can afford to pay a tax that helps pay for poor people's health insurance,” — Camille Miller, head of the Texas Health Institute, on a proposed “Botax” 

MUST READ:

• Parker's grass roots too deep for LockeHouston Chronicle

• GOP hopefuls get litmus test in Tarrant, Collin, Denton counties The Dallas Morning News

• In Texas, a showdown at the GOP corralWashington Post

• Voters often underinformed in DA contestsWaco Tribune-Herald

• Wealth is no guarantee of political success in TexasFort Worth Star-Telegram

• Texas teachers fund losses will reverberate for years Austin American-Statesman

• ‘Smart’ Electric Utility Meters, Intended to Create Savings, Instead Prompt RevoltThe New York Times

• Former McAllen Mayor Othal Brand has diedThe Monitor

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