News For Friday, February 26, 2010

2010: Coincidence or Conspiracy?

As if there wasn't enough action planned in Austin on Tuesday, the Texas State History Museum Foundation announced today that it will be honoring none other than President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush at a dinner on the very same night as the primary election.

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Jacob Villanueva

TribBlog: Acceptable Road Conditions

The North Texas Tollway Authority board just accepted the Transportation Commission's deal for building State Highway 161 by a vote of eight to one. The state commissioners offered the deal on Wednesday that allows NTTA to effectively borrow TXDOT's credit rating in making deals.

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Bob Daemmrich

2010: The Virtual Debate Continues

Democrat Bill White takes the same questions that the three GOP gubernatorial candidates faced from Common Sense Texans, the network that connects Texas tea parties. News alert: "His answers differ significantly," the organizer said.

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Primary Color: HD-11

State Rep. Chuck Hopson, of Jacksonville, got everything he hoped for when he quit the Democratic party last year to seek reelection as a Republican — with two exceptions. One is named Michael Banks; the other is named Allan Cain.

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Primary Color: Supreme Court Place 3

Six Republicans — five judges from across the state and a former House member with no judicial experience — are touting their conservative credentials as they run for that rare thing in Texas politics: an open seat on the Supreme Court.

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Graphic by Bob Daemmrich, Marjorie Cotera

Primary Color: Agriculture Commissioner

Will the Democrats choose the most serious guy in the race, a rancher with hands-on experience? Or the consummate promoter — someone who'll sell Texas goods to America and the world with gusto and bravado, the way he sells his cigars, salsa, music, and one-liners?

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TEF = Texas Election Fund

Facebook is opening up a satellite office in Austin — the first one in Texas for the California-based social media giant. The move, which will create 200 jobs, was sealed with $1.4 million from Gov. Rick Perry's Texas Enterprise Fund. The governor on Thursday also announced 100 new jobs for the small town of Cuero, thanks again to the TEF. Ben Philpott, who's covering the 2010 elections for KUT News and the Tribune and KUT News, reports on how the job-creating fund can be a pretty effective campaign tool as well.

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Primary Color: HD-52

The GOP smackdown in this Republican-leaning district, now occupied by a freshman Democrat, is really a disagreement over focus. One leading candidate, a Capitol insider, has his sights trained on statewide concerns. The other, a Williamson County insider, focuses more on local concerns — and denigrates his opponent's experience.

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Primary Color: The Final Five

This is the final day of early voting — a period in which many more energized and engaged Texans cast ballots for their favorite candidates than their counterparts did in 2006. During the last two weeks, we've published fifteen installments in our Primary Color series, analyzing the marquee contested party primaries for Texas House and Senate seats, for Congressional seats, and for slots on the State Board of Education and the Texas Supreme Court. Today we present the last five of our stories. Brian Thevenot reports on the face-off between very different GOP insiders to take on state Rep. Diana Maldonado, D-Round Rock, in House District 52. Julian Aguilar looks at the ideological purity test in HD-43, where incumbent Tara Rios Ybarra, D-South Padre Island, has been called a "closet Republican" by her Democratic challenger. Reeve Hamilton explains how Democrats have to choose between an Agriculture Commissioner candidate with ranching experience and one who's the consummate promoter. Andrew Kreighbaum weighs in on the six-way free-for-all to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill in Place 3. And Ross Ramsey contemplates the potential karmic payback of state Rep. Chuck Hopson, of Jacksonville, who quit the Democratic party and filed for reelection as a Republican, only to find two GOP primary opponents lying in wait.

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Primary Color: HD-43

Ideological purity is the big issue on March 2 in this South Texas district. Freshman state Rep. Tara Rios Ybarra, D-South Padre Island, touts her "moderate" approach and bipartisan tendencies, but her challenger insists, “The first thing we have to do is get rid of all the closet Republicans from the Democratic Party."

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