THE BIG CONVERSATION:
The countdown begins: there are less than 48 hours left to vote in the April runoffs, and candidates are pulling out their best last-minute swipes to get your attention.
Three veteran state legislators are fighting off runoff opponents. The most senior is Delwin Jones, R-Plano, who was first elected to the House in 1964 and faces Tea-party backed accountant Charles Perry.
Norma Chavez, D-El Paso, is locked in a bitter contest with Naomi Gonzalez, who has almost $276,000 from usually-GOP donors to help her. The Chavez/Gonzales faceoff has grown particularly nasty — Chavez has twice drawn attention to Gonzales’ sexual orientation at public forums. Fred Brown, R-College Station, faces Gerald “Buddy” Winn.
In a Round Rock House district Republicans hope to turn red in the fall, Larry Gonzales and John Gordon are trading jabs; the former is running ads featuring the latter shouting at a police officer during a traffic stop. Gordon’s doing his best to paint Gonzales as a newcomer to the district with lobbyist ties.
Mabrie Jackson and Van Taylor are duking it out to see who will succeed Brian McCall, in what’s become Plano’s “bitterest, costliest and most intense political race in memory.” Jackson represents mainstream Republicans, while Taylor bills himself as a hardline conservative. That race, along with two others in the South Plains region, has attracted large contributions from outside-the-district donors.
In a closely watched congressional runoff, Bill Flores and Rob Curnock are vying to determine who will challenge Democrat Chet Edwards for his Waco seat in the fall. Curnock recently sent out an email about his opponent saying “Washington dirty politics has arrived here in Central Texas” and Flores has questioned Curnock’s serial campaigning for office. That race has also brought former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, who has endorsed Flores and spent time stumping for him, into the spotlight again.
The only statewide runoff is between Rick Green and Debra Lehrmann for Place 3 on the Texas Supreme Court, the seat Harriet O'Neill will vacate at the end of 2010.
Check out Texas Tribune coverage of additional runoff races here.
· Big Bend’s Christmas Mountains are on the auction block again. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said he would not transfer the 9,200 acre range to the National Park Service and will instead sell it to a private bidder. Patterson said he believes a private owner would better restore the land and worries the NPS would outlaw guns and hunting there.
· Texas wants California’s cows. It is one of eight states, which include Colorado, Kansas, and Iowa, who are promising less rules and lower costs to lure dairy farmers away from the Sunshine state, which has some of the world’s toughest air and water quality regulations.
· Two upcoming April dates to keep your eye on: The 15th, otherwise known as Tax Day, will see Tea Party meetings across the state, including one in Austin which will feature Newt Gingrich. And on the 23rd, the Texas Forensic Science Commission will meet in Irving to hear the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, a Corsicana man put to death in 2004.
“I didn't notice her as a Yankee at that time. She seemed pretty Texan to me.” — University of Texas Law School professor David Anderson, who taught possible Supreme Court nominee Diane Wood, who moved to the state from New Jersey when she was 16.
Lawmaker says new entity is needed for health care exchanges — Austin American-Statesman
Gay rights in Texas taking 'two steps forward, one step back,' advocates say — Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Ex-Houstonian on short list again for high court — Houston Chronicle
Barnett Shale facilities release emissions — Dallas Morning News
Cartels use Austin as a drug hub, officials say — Austin American-Statesman
What Are the Odds? — The Texas Tribune