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The Brief: May 10, 2010

The “a” in Plano must stand for “awkward.”

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

The “a” in Plano must stand for “awkward.”

See if you can follow this:  Over the weekend, Van Taylor lost a special election — one he had already been declared the winner of —  to serve out the remainder of the term of retired state Rep. Brian McCall, R-Plano.  He lost to Mabrie Jackson, the primary challenger he already defeated in the race to serve the next two-year term starting in January.

After losing to Taylor in House District 66’s GOP primary runoff, rather than fight for just a seven-month term, Jackson withdrew her name from the May 8 special election. So, Secretary of State Hope Andrade went ahead and declared Taylor (now state Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano) the victor and swore him in.

But, it turns out, Jackson’s name couldn’t be taken off the ballot — and, on Saturday, she garnered approximately 300 more votes than Taylor. Randall Dillard, spokesman for the secretary of state, explained the situation to April Castro of the Associated Press:

"In this case, however, the county was not able remove Ms. Jackson's name from the ballot, nor could it remove the special election from the ballot, apparently because of the voting technology used and the fact the county had planned to hold joint elections," Dillard said. "In sum, Mr. Taylor was duly declared elected following Ms. Jackson's withdrawal."

Or, as Taylor put it: “"I was declared the winner. Game over."

Elsewhere this weekend, others also failed to win special elections. 

The special election in Senate District 22 to replace retired state Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, is heading into a runoff between Republicans David Sibley and Brian Birdwell.

Sibley led in the special election voting with 45 percent of the vote, followed by Birdwell, with 36.5 percent, Democrat Gayle Avant, with 13.3 percent, and Republican Darren Yancy, with 5.2 percent.

Some analysis from the Tribune’s Ross Ramsey:

The winner of the special election runoff will serve until January. The winner of the general election — Averitt or a person to be named later — will run for the chance to serve starting then.  

Sibley won in all but three of the district's ten counties, but two of those — Hood and Johnson — turned out relatively big votes. The former senator got walloped in Hood, where Birdwell got 3,625 votes to Sibley's 819 (in percentages, that's 68 to 15, in Birdwell's favor, with the rest of the votes going to the other two candidates).

The runoff will be a turnout game, with McLennan, Hood, Ellis, and Johnson counties — where most of the votes are — playing the key.

CULLED:

• It’s the end of the road. Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O'Neill, a Republican first elected in 1998, had already announced that she wouldn't be seeking reelection to the court. On Friday, she told Gov. Rick Perry and the other members of the court that she will step down from the bench on June 20.  The governor gets to appoint a replacement to serve out the term.  A much-speculated move would be to appoint the Republican nominee for the position, Debra Lehrmann, giving her an incumbency advantage heading into the general election.

• Speaking of judges, University of Texas Law graduate Diane Wood has now been twice short-listed and twice passed-on for the U.S. Supreme Court. President Barack Obama is expected to announce this morning that Solicitor General Elena Kagan, the former dean of Harvard Law School, is his choice to replace the retiring John Paul Stevens.

• Here’s your House committee meeting rundown for today: Public Health, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services, and the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government will all meet together at 9:00 A.M. in room E1.030 in the Capitol.  They will be discussing, among other things, “policy changes to promote best practices, reduce costs, and improve quality within the state Medicaid program, Employees Retirement System, and Teacher Retirement System.”

Debbie Riddle owes me 35 bucks for gas.” — state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, who drove to a TV studio to debate Riddle, a Republican state rep. from Tomball, on CNN — only to have her cancel. 

MUST READ:

Texas lawmakers discuss easing public school class size limit to cut costsThe Dallas Morning News

State agency swaps babies' blood for supplies — Austin American-Statesman

A Matter of TrustThe Texas Tribune

Eye on Austin: Not all's well for GOPAmarillo Globe-News

A&M breaks ground on first buildingSan Antonio Express-News

• Texas dump might get other states' radioactive wasteAustin American-Statesman

 

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