THE BIG CONVERSATION:
Is the race for governor over?
Not likely. But Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that it should be — if allegations that his Democratic opponent, Bill White, profiteered from hurricane recovery efforts while mayor of Houston are true. White says those allegations are Perry concoctions designed to avoid a debate.
Not even 48 hours after releasing his tax returns on Tuesday, White had wandered into a web of accusations from the Perry camp that during his tenure as mayor, he'd maintained financial ties to a company hired to provide the city with electric turbines in response to Hurricane Rita. "If this is true, and Bill White did unethically steer taxpayer dollars to a company he had a personal financial stake in, I am calling on him to immediately resign from the race for governor," Perry said Wednesday, forgoing his usual practice of allowing aides to speak in his place. The governor added that the matter warranted an investigation.
White also stepped into the debate, saying the timeline of his involvement with the company, BTEC Turbines, had been misread and that Perry was "manufacturing phony issues in an attempt to hide from debates." White's explanation, as detailed in a timeline the campaign released Wednesday: He was on BTEC's board before he was elected mayor and then invested $1 million in the company about a year after Rita recovery efforts were completed, but he had no financial connection with BTEC while it was receiving taxpayer money.
"Career politician Rick Perry is doing anything to avoid a debate because he doesn't want to talk about how he's nearly doubled state spending, doubled state debt and how Texas is facing an $18 billion dollar shortfall, the largest in Texas history," White said.
Perry has said he won't participate in a debate until White releases older tax information.
• One of the biggest stories out of The Dallas Morning News this week involves mystery political donors, possible Republican benefactors and the possible resurgence of … the Green Party? As the Secretary of State looks to OK a petition to allow the party onto the state ballot this fall (it hasn't drafted candidates in Texas since 2002), party officials are waiting to hear whether they've been illegally aided by a corporation possibly looking to push the Greens into the fray in hopes they'll siphon votes from Democrats.
• The Houston Chronicle reports that BP, which announced earlier in the week that it was finally making headway with containment efforts in the Gulf, may end up siphoning more oil than it is ready to process. Its solution? Burn the rest. Meanwhile, as BP's containment efforts are finally seeing success, the company's stock has seen better days.
• As Monday's shooting of a Mexican teenager by a U.S. Border Patrol agent undergoes further review, the El Paso Times reports that vigils and protests are marking the incident (since revealed to have been caught on video), and diplomatic tensions are heating up over conflicting details.
• The Elections and Defense and Veterans' Affairs committees will jointly meet today at the Capitol to discuss easing the process by which Americans in the military or overseas can vote.
"The rank-and-file delegates on the floor of that convention will be like kids waiting for Christmas. The only question they have now is how big a present am I going to get." — Houston political consultant Allen Blakemore on the state Republican convention, whose attendees, he says, will be riding high on anti-Democratic sentiment.
The Ex Files — The Texas Tribune
Fort Worth family among millions nationwide to endure long wait for food stamps — The Associated Press
Proposal rewards states for distracted driving laws — The Dallas Morning News
2 gas explosions, similar scenarios — Fort Worth Star-Telegram