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The Brief: December 21, 2009

Just like Santa needs Rudolph et al. to get him through Christmas, Democrat Farouk Shami needs a good team to carry him to the March gubernatorial primary.

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Just like Santa needs Rudolph et al. to get him through Christmas, Democrat Farouk Shami needs a good team to carry him to the March gubernatorial primary.

Just a few weeks into his campaign, Shami fired four top staffers, including campaign manager Joel Coon and communication director Jason Stanford.

Afterwards, in a guest column for the Tribune, Stanford referred to camp Shami as “a flailing campaign” and said, “I really do wish the guy all the luck in the world, not least because he’ll need it.”  Hardly a vote of confidence for his ex-boss, though in all fairness, he had just been sacked.

It’s been two weeks since the shake-up, and Shami has had time to carefully restructure. 

Today, Shami is expected to announce his new line-up of senior staffers — as well as other positions. This will be the team Shami heads into battle with in 2010 (unless , of course, another unexpected mass-firing takes place). The list of names should give a sense of Shami’s intended direction as his campaign moves into the final months leading up to the primary.

As it says in his seemingly ubiquitous commercial, Shami came to Texas with $71 in his pocket and built an incredibly profitable business.  Now, he says he's coming into the governor's race with $10 million — has he done comparable work in building his new campaign? 

Stay tuned to find out.

CULLED:

 Former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle is coming out of retirement.  He was expected to file for some statewide race, though precisely which one has been something of a mystery.  Governor and attorney general were both tossed around as possibilities.  On Friday, he filed with the Texas Democratic Party to run for lieutenant governor.  So, far he's the only Democrat to file for lite guv — but Austin deli owner Marc Katz is expected to, and Linda Chavez-Thompson, former executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, is said to be considering it.

• Former state Rep. Borris Miles, D-Houston, has both won and lost to current state Rep. Al Edwards, D-Houston.  He is officially in the running to get his old seat back, which means he will do one of those things again.

•  State Rep. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock, officially announced that he will not be seeking an 8th term in office. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s Enrique Rangel considers the potential ramifications of this decision — which could lead to  the South Plains ending up with an “all-freshman House delegation with little or no political clout.” In addition to Isett’s open seat, Rep. Delwin Jones, R-Lubbock, and Rep. Joe Heflin, D-Crosbyton, both face strong challengers.

•  There was much ado about a procedural vote made by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison late last week.  She cast a non-deciding vote in favor of ending a filibuster of a defense-spending bill.  Because this allowed the massive healthcare reform bill (which she’s in DC to be fighting) to come to the floor, Gov. Rick Perry’s camp called her out on it.  This morning Hutchison cast her first vote on the actual healthcare bill, and — as promised — she voted against it.  However, U.S. Senate Democrats had the necessary 60 votes to prevent a filibuster, and the bill is reportedly on track to pass by Christmas Eve.

"I don't have an agreement worked out yet with the speaker, other than he knows that I've gone through this several times and he's new to this." — Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on budget planning with House Speaker Joe Straus 

MUST READ:

Legislative leaders eye spending cuts to deal with looming budget hole Austin American-Statesman

Loophole lets mentally ill Texas juveniles go freeAssociated Press

In health care debate, Hutchison's bark comes with little biteThe Dallas Morning News

Kinky all about the balance in thingsThe Bryan/College Station Eagle

Point Person: Our Q&A with Matthew DowdThe Dallas Morning News

Bumpy road ahead for transportation: Q&A w/Steven E. Simmons, TxDOT deputy executive directorWaco Tribune-Herald

Democrats try to stake claim in TexasAssociated Press

Dropping In — The Texas Tribune

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