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The Brief: February 11, 2010

Charlie Wilson dies, sales tax revenues are down and an April runoff still looks likely.

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In memoriam: Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson died at the age of 76 on Wednesday at a hospital in Lufkin, Texas. “Good Time Charlie” represented the 2nd Congressional District of Texas from 1973 to 1996 and during his tenure was widely recognized for his efforts to arm and fund Afghanistan’s mujahedeen fighters in the country’s war against the former Soviet Union.

His death prompted lawmakers and former colleagues to pay homage to the personal and political life of the uninhibited Texas lawmaker.

“Charlie Wilson led a life that was oversized even by Hollywood’s standards,” said Gov. Rick Perry in a prepared statement on Wednesday. “Congressman Wilson was fiercely devoted to serving his country and his fellow Texans. Anita and I extend our sincere condolences and prayers to his family and friends.”

“Charlie Wilson was one of a kind-- loved by all who knew him, and he will be missed as one of our most distinguished and colorful leaders," said U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. "He was a giant, not just in stature but in his love for America and especially America’s men and women in uniform.  He was a dynamic presence in Congress and on the national stage, but he always called Lufkin home.”

Added U.S. Sen. John Cornyn: “He was a lifetime public servant with a fiery passion for the people of East Texas, our men and women in uniform, our veterans and our freedoms. I have had the great privilege to work alongside him on several issues of importance to our veterans in Texas.”

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie said that “although much was written about ‘good time Charlie’, he was more than a good public servant — he was a great public servant.  Even Tom Hanks couldn’t capture everything that was Charlie,” referring to Hanks’ portrayal of the lawmaker in the 2007 film “Charlie Wilson’s War.”


  • Is the sun setting already? Just days after Democratic gubernatorial candidate Farouk Shami uttered his bumper-sticker worthy “without Mexicans” comment during a live debate between he and former Houston Mayor Bill White, the leading Republican candidates for governor returned back to the touchy issue of undocumented immigrants in Texas. Incumbent Gov. Rick Perry said at a campaign stop in Corpus Christi that he would ask the federal government to reimburse Texas for what it spends to jail undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s camp dug up old news clips to help portray Perry soft on border security. In a television spot by former KVUE ace and current Texas Tribune reporter Elise Hu, the Hutchison camp accuses the incumbent of going against his own party.
  • Sales tax receipts for December 2009 brought a mixed bag of good and bad news to Texas, according to a report by the Dallas Morning News. Municipalities across the state hauled in less sales tax receipts during the month than they did the year before, but the drop off wasn’t as sharp as in previous months. Budget analysts are closely watching the numbers to gauge how much of a hole Texas lawmakers will have to contend with when then reconvene next January. The good news from the report is that some cities actually saw gains in sales tax revenue, specifically Austin and El Paso. Larger cities like Houston, however, took a significant hit.
  • A new poll by the Texas Credit Union League reflects Gov. Rick Perry might still be headed toward a runoff in April. Who his opponent might be is still uncertain however. The poll shows Perry is still short of the 50 percent he needs to win next month’s Primary Election outright. He has 49 percent, but former long-shot candidate Debra Medina is gaining ground on Hutchison. She is backed by 19 percent of registered voters, according to the survey, compared with the senator’s 27 percent.

"After the Soviets left, Charlie kept fighting for the Afghan people and warned against abandoning that traumatized country to its fate — a warning we should have heeded then, and should remember today." U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on the passing of former Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson.



House District 92 race centers on Voter ID bill, party leader’s roleFort Worth Star-Telegram

Texas city sales tax revenues mixed in DecemberThe Dallas Moring News

More bad polling news for HutchisonHouston Chronicle

Mexican President Felipe Calderón will share plan to quell violence during visitEl Paso Times

Mind the GapTexas Tribune

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