THE BIG CONVERSATION
Is it good news or bad news that comes in threes? Today, it's a bit of both.
•The Bittersweet (for Republicans.): Sen. Kip Averitt won't run for re-election after all, due to health reasons. No Democrat filed for the election and since we're well past deadlines, that leaves Averitt's primary challenger, Darren Yancy, and a potential Libertarian in contention. Yancy, who hails from Johnson Co., planned on running to the right of Averitt, and has spoken at Tea Party gatherings to garner support. The Libertarians will decide on their candidate in March. But Averitt can't get off the ballot and if he wins in March, the Republicans can replace him. And the Democrats will get to add a candidate, too, according to the Texas Secretary of State.
Averitt will certainly be missed by some in his district. Since 1992, Averitt has won all 14 of his elections — with at least 57 percent of the vote.
• The Good (for political junkies): The big night is finally here! As if the Republican debate hasn't been discussed ad-nauseum all week, every newspaper in Texas seems to have predictions for the event. The El Paso Times sticks with the general rule "Just don't screw up." Embry at the Statesman echoes the same sentiments. But that's easier said than done says Christy Hoppe at The Dallas Morning News. Her story outlines the potential gender pitfalls for Hutchison and Perry — coming off as either a bully (Perry) or "shrill" (Hutchison). And our own Ross Ramsey and Ben Philpot say the night is a make-or-break chance for Hutchison to defend herself directly against Perry's attacks. All in all, it'll probably beat the lineup on ABC. (Really? Private Practice is still on?)
•The Bad (for Mike Leach): After sowing discord across the Red Raider nation, ESPN commentator Craig James is taking the logical next step: testing the waters for a run at public office. The former running back will be featured as the keynote speaker at today’s Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Policy Orientation, after he announced his intention to run for Kay Bailey Hutchison's seat in 2012 to WFAA-TV. The TPPF event will likely be a who's-who of conservative policy makers, and while James may not have a title before his name like most of the other panelists, he's in powerful company.
Still, it’s probably safe to say there’s one vote he won’t have.
• It’s his party? White has marshalled the troops. All Democratic senators, as well as 66 state representatives have pledged their support for the gubernatorial candidate.
• Switcharoo! Statesman political writer and columnist Gardner Selby will evidently step down to join the staff for the newspaper’s Truth-o-Meter feature. Jason Embry, who already writes First Reading, will take over the column.
• Why can’t we be friends? Farouk Shami released his border policy yesterday, which focused on increasing educational and economic opportunities for border communities. He also took the opportunity to say White and Perry both have contributed to making the border “a war zone.”
“The two things I worry about in education are fads and feds, and this combines both.”— Rep. Rob Eissler, R-Woodlands, on Race to the Top
• Governor hopeful Farouk Shami really means business — El Paso Times
• Sunken tea party blamed on planner —San Antonio Express-News
• Dallas Fed economist: Texas may create 100,000 jobs this year — The Dallas Morning News
• Speaker, local lawmakers voice concerns over mansion addition — Austin American-Statesman