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The Brief: May 6, 2010

If Bill White’s ad buys are any indicator, we’ll have plenty of political TV to get through the summer.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

If Bill White’s ad buys are any indicator, we’ll have plenty of political TV to get us through the summer.

It’s still a long way from Labor Day, the typical all-in date for campaign spending, but White is already springing for TV time. The former Houston mayor deployed his first commercial earlier this week on the airwaves of his old stomping ground, which emphasizes his successes as a leader there. In the next few weeks, look for that ad to roll out across the state. (Here is the Perry campaign’s response, featuring basketballer Yao Ming.)

What does it mean? Likely that White has paid attention to what happened to Rick Perry’s primary opponent, Kay Bailey Hutchison, who couldn’t shake the labels the incumbent governor stuck her with early on — and wants to get his message out to voters first.

Here’s The Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey with more:

So it's early to advertise, but doing it now serves three functions: defining White in his own terms; raising his name ID for an expected round of late spring polls, both internal and external; and showing supporters that his will be a serious campaign. "We'll be competitive financially," says an aide. And the first sign of that — true or false — comes in about two months, when candidates file campaign finance reports for the first six months of the year. If the campaign is right, the money spent now on the ads will also help raise money for those reports. And they're mindful of what happened to Hutchison; Perry's campaign ads on bailouts were too heavy and too late to counter. Starting now might offset what's likely to come later.

CULLED:

· Another Democratic statewide candidate, lite gov hopeful Linda Chavez-Thompson, also recently unveiled her TV strategy. She told a group of Austin Democrats this week that she’ll focus on San Antonio and South Texas with her buys, aiming at bringing in new voters.

· They’re behind bars, but that doesn’t stop Texas prisoners from participating in drug-and-money smuggling schemes — often with the aid of guards and family members. Yesterday, court papers revealed Travis County authorities are investigating a Baylor University student and five convicts in East Texas for a set-up that involved the depositing of money into outside accounts for inmates and sneaking drugs into the prison. “I think you can assume this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said the prison system’s inspector general.

· Texas lost out earlier this year on $8 billion from the Obama administration for high-speed rail, and that might not be the only obstacle to developing a rail network in the state, according to TxDOT official Bill Glavin. The first-ever rail director will hold meeting across the state about passenger lines connecting Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio and Oklahoma — but “years of careful planning lie ahead.”

· Texas Tech University fired off the latest round its legal squabble with former football coach, Mike Leach, yesterday. It asked a district court to dismiss the suit Leach has brought against university administrators, saying they were exempted from liability as a state institution under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. According to Leach’s attorney, “they are scrambling because they know they are in deep trouble.”

“I do not see the death penalty fading away in my lifetime. I think it will always be there, and my only hope is that it is used sparingly in very clear cut cases involving only the most atrocious kinds of crimes.” — University of Texas history professor David Oshinsky.

MUST READ:

States vary on dealing with youth sex offendersThe Associated Press

As faithful unite, National Day of Prayer dividesThe Dallas Morning News

Deep beneath the Gulf, oil may be wreaking havocHouston Chronicle

In marriage cases, how should sex be determined?Austin American-Statesman

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