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The Brief: April 7, 2010

Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign is set to begin turning left.

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The BIG CONVERSATION:

Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign is set to begin turning left.

Yesterday, the campaign unveiled a new ad strategy — it spent $225,000 to sponsor Corpus Christi native Bobby Labonte's Chevrolet Impala in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.  On April 18, as the No. 71 car makes it’s way counter-clockwise around the track, spectators will see it emblazoned with “Governor Perry” on its hood, “Perry Governor 2010” on the back, and Perry’s campaign website along each side.

The sponsorship is a one-race deal, but the car will tour the state for the next two weeks leading up to the big event. Today, it will be in Midland, Odessa, San Angelo and Llano.

Katy Bacon, spokeswoman for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White, told reporters, "Given Perry's record on education, we're assuming this car is going to go mostly in reverse or drop out of the race."

Bacon’s comment reflected the White campaign’s latest issue of choice.  The same day Perry revealed his new wheels, the campaigns were involved in a back-and-forth over Texas drop-out rates.  White issued a press release accusing Perry of citing bogus stats when he claimed a 10 percent drop-out rate.  White said the real number of students who “do not graduate from high school or get a GED within 4 years” was closer to 3 in 10.  Perry spokesman Mark Miner responded with a release that said, “The percent of students who enter high school and eventually earn a diploma or equivalent, or who remain in pursuit of a diploma or equivalent, is 90 percent.”

The Tribune’s Brian Thevenot looked at the stats, and concluded:

“What’s the truth? Both statements are technically correct — yet neither is exactly true, according to the most reliable dropout figures. Both lack context and ignoring other readily available data. Ultimately, however, White’s figure may be the closest to reality, as a Texas Tribune analysis of the many and conflicting dropout-counting methods showed last year before the candidates ever started fighting about it.”

Since, as Thevenot notes, the calculating of dropout rates is “one of the oldest and hottest debates in public education,” look for this debate to continue to go in circles.

CULLED:

• Anyone want to be a state representative for a few months?  Candidates wanting to run in the May 8 special election to replace former Rep. Brian McCall, R-Plano, for the remainder of his term have until 5 p.m. today to file with the Secretary of State.  On April 13, it will be known which of the two candidates currently in the primary runoff, former Plano City Councilwoman Mabrie Jackson or businessman Van Taylor, will be the GOP nominee to represent HD-66 in the 2011 session. 

• You can’t talk about the primary runoffs without talking about HD-76 — the consistently interesting El Paso race between Democratic state Rep. Norma Chavez and Naomi Gonzalez. What’s the latest?  The Tribune’s Brandi Grissom reports: “Three sources close to the campaign of Democratic state Rep. Norma Chavez in Austin and El Paso today are reporting that some of her closest local campaign staffers are abandoning ship just a week before the April 13 election.”

If you’re near the Capitol and in the mood for a House committee hearing, you’ve got your choice of three that are meeting today.  There’s Public Safety, or Culture, Recreation & Tourism, and finally the new Select Committee on Transportation Funding.

• If nobody wins the Lotto Texas drawing tonight, it will set a record — for longest losing streak.  It would be the 48th drawing without a winner.

“That's what you call synergy" — Gov. Rick Perry to NASCAR racer Bobby Labonte after Labonte, whose car Perry is sponsoring in an upcoming race, said, “I'm not sure if your fan base will go up, or my fan base will go up.”

MUST READ:

Texas business groups blast new health care lawAustin American-Statesman

Immigration reform facing long odds — San Antonio Express-News

Texas prisons' treatment for DWI repeaters could be cutThe Dallas Morning News

Please, Kay: One more flip-flopHouston Chronicle

The Applicant — The Texas Tribune

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