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The Brief: February 1, 2010

Life is full of missed opportunities. Voting in the March 2 primary doesn’t have to be one of them.

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Life is full of missed opportunities.  Voting in the March 2 primary doesn’t have to be one of them.

Today is the last day to register for that particular election.

To be eligible to vote, you must be:

  • A United States citizen.
  • A resident of the county you register in.
  • At least 18 years old on Election Day.
  • Not a convicted felon.
  • Not found by a court to be mentally incapacitated.

Got it? Good. Now you can start thinking about which party’s primary you want to vote in.

Texas has open primaries, which means you can vote in whichever party primary you want.  Though, if no candidate in a particular race — let’s use the GOP gubernatorial primary as a totally random example — manages to get 50 percent of the vote, you will only be able to vote in the April 13 run-off if you voted in the GOP primary (or skipped the initial primary voting altogether).  Of course, you can cross over all you want in the general election.

Republicans have already gotten a good look at their gubernatorial options — the GOP candidates (Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Debra Medina) had their second and final debate on Friday.   Much was learned, including the average salary of a Texas schoolteacher ($46,179), the miles of border fence (105.8), and the first Governor of Texas (James Pinckney Henderson).  

If you find yourself wondering how that helps you decide who to vote for, you’re not alone.  The Tribune’s focus group of 10 undecided Republican voters was befuddled by some of the questioning— though, ultimately, they were nearly unanimous in calling the debate for Perry.

Democrats Farouk Shami and Bill White will have their first debate on February 8.

CULLED:

Sarah Palin, who will be stumping for Gov. Rick Perry on February 7, made it a big deal in 2008.  Then, Debra Medina came along.  Now, we have Democratic ag commissioner candidate Hank Gilbert.  After spending $2,192 on clothes using his campaign contributions, Gilbert is the latest politician to face the increasingly popular ethical conundrum of what items campaign cash can and can’t be spent on.  Gilbert promises to use the clothes for campaign events only before giving them to charity.

• Time to welcome Powerball to Texas’ lottery family.  Tickets for the multi-state game went on sale Sunday.  Some worry that its inclusion will weaken other games, such as Mega Millions.  That’s probably less important to consumers than this: The first chance for a ticket purchased in Texas to win is at 10 p.m. Wednesday in a drawing at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.

• The Texas Forensic Science Commission met Friday — but they didn’t talk about possibly the one case on their plate that most people have heard of.  That would be the controversial case of Cameron Todd Willingham, which some believe investigations may find to be the first known wrongful execution in Texas.  Critics have accused Gov. Rick Perry of shuffling the personnel on the commission to prevent the case from being discussed until after the March 2 primary.  It will not be taken up until the next meeting, set for April 23 in Fort Worth.

• Cancel all your plans — you won’t want to miss this! The interim's first joint hearing of the House Transportation Committee and its Senate counterpart will be held today in the Capitol.  It will feature an update from the new Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, a panel on Texas Department of Transportation funding, testimony from several Texas mayors and Democratic agriculture commission candidate Hank Gibert, and other swell discussions. It starts at 8 a.m. in room E1.030. Don't be late!

“Nobody is going to vote for anyone named Farouk“—J. Larry Davis, chairman of the Anderson County Democratic Party, in an e-mail to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Farouk Shami.

MUST READ:

Latino Congreso ends with resolutionsEl Paso Times

Perry says bad weather, luck helped plot trajectoryHouston Chronicle

Juárez gunmen kill 14 at teen's party, stunning a city accustomed to violenceThe Dallas Morning News

Lack of central vision blamed as Texas gets little high-speed-rail funding — Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Terri Hodge faces off with primary foe in raucous House debate The Dallas Morning News

Eye on Austin: Voter support trumps candidate endorsementsAmarillo Globe-News

Banned in Texas prisons: books and magazines that many would consider classicsAustin American-Statesman

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