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The Brief: December 28, 2009

‘Tis the season for retrospection.

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

‘Tis the season for retrospection.

With the first decade of the millennium ending in a matter of days, it’s natural that the news is largely filled with remembrances of the best, worst, and most memorable events of the last year or 10.  The Tribune even has a few of its own lists out there.

What there has not been a lot of lately is open campaigning.  With the holidays and all, the past week has been like a calm before the storm. Ben Philpott of KUT and the Tribune noted, “There’s kind of an unwritten rule about the holiday being a politics-free zone.”

Of course, there are always exceptions. 

With the passage of a major healthcare reform bill in the U.S. Senate falling on the morning of Christmas Eve, Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign couldn’t miss its chance to strike.

Perry’s primary opponent, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has pledged to remain in the Senate to fight healthcare reform (and her fight continues — the House and Senate versions of the bill still need to be reconciled and then finally voted on). She has consistently voted against healthcare reform, but didn’t join other Republicans in attempting to filibuster a defense spending measure — which would have prevented the healthcare bill from reaching the floor before Christmas.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner tried to keep his Dec. 24 press release in the holiday spirit, saying, “‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that Obamacare would not soon be there. However, because Senator Hutchison voted the wrong way, government health care is now on its way.”

Hutchison’s campaign was quick to chastise Perry’s team for going on the attack just as “the campaigns were settling in to celebrate the season of joy and peace.” Their official response, courtesy of Hutchison spokesman Joe Pounder: “Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and don’t let Rick Perry get you down.”

And if you think the back and forth was bad during the season of joy and peace — just wait until the season of bare-knuckle campaigning in the run-up to the primary. Estimates place the tab for some primary campaigns at $1 million a day between the first of the year and the March 2 primary.

CULLED:

• The Jan. 4 filing deadline is right around the corner.  Here’s a rundown of a few candidates who have officially thrown their hats in the ring:

            - John Greene filed to run as a Democrat in the Texas House District 58 race. That seat is currently held by Rep. Rob Orr, R-Burleson, who recently filed for re-election.  Orr will face Cleburne Mayor Ted Reynolds in the primary.

            - Waco businessman Rob Curnock filed to join the Republican primary for CD-17. Fellow Republicans Timothy Delasandro, Bill Flores, Dave McIntyre, and Chuck Wilson have already filed. Restaurateur Eric Finley is expected to do so soon.

            - Darren Yancy will challenge state Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, in the primary. This is only the second primary challenge Averitt has had during his time in the Texas Senate.

“Wasn't there something about a bunny?” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, talking with Wayne Slater of The Dallas Morning News about Pres. George W. Bush’s history with public television.

MUST READ:

2009 Texan of the Year: The heroes of Fort HoodThe Dallas Morning News

Rick Perry: EPA 'science' doesn't add up in global warming equationAmarillo Globe-News

Many Texas officeholders' Twitter accounts go silent after election seasonFort Worth Star-Telegram

McNeely: Democratic lieutenant governor might find his powers strippedSan Angelo Standard-Times

A decade in transportation: new tollways and a long wait for railAustin American-Statesman

Finger-pointing grows on state education boardSan Antonio Express-News

Cornyn’s fight to cut debt carries political priceHouston Chronicle

District 83 race shaping up as the one to watch in 2010 Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

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