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The Brief: June 22, 2010

It's official: A speaker's race is a go.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

It's official: A speaker's race is a go.

The Tribune cited sources Monday claiming that state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, is expected to file as a candidate for speaker of the House, challenging sitting Speaker Joe Straus, whom Berman has made a hobby of attacking for lacking conservative credentials. The Tyler Morning Telegraph confirmed the news Tuesday.

Berman, one of the House's staunchest conservatives on issues like immigration, challenged Gov. Rick Perry for the Republican gubernatorial nomination but dropped out after striking a deal with the governor last summer. The six-term House member has since made news with his intention to file legislation mirroring Arizona's recently passed contentious immigration law and with his appearance at a Glenn Beck rally in April at which he called President Obama "God's punishment on us."

The Tribune's Ross Ramsey tackled the prospect of a speaker's race earlier this month. "While [Straus] appears to be on solid ground going into his second session behind the podium, don't erase the possibility of a contest," Ramsey wrote. "It's an uncertain environment: It's an election year, Straus is green and the House is full of people who are constantly looking for a better deal than the one they've got."

Berman — a likely conservative candidate, Smith County Republican Party Chairman Ashton Oravetz told the Morning Telegraph — would struggle to shore up support among enough Democrats in the House to mount any realistic challenge to Straus. But Berman's entrance into the race highlights the difficulties Straus — who ousted former Speaker Tom Craddick last year with the support of 64 Democrats and a dissident faction of Republicans — may face as he balances courting both his own party and the Democrats who delivered him the speakership.

"[Straus] isn't a real Republican. He's very moderate and was elected by moderate Republicans and Democrats and I think he's given them way too much power," Oravetz said, according to the Morning Telegraph. "We're not going to get conservative legislation through the House unless we elect a conservative speaker."

CULLED:

  • Democratic attorney general candidate Barbara Ann Radnofsky said Monday that the state should file a lawsuit against Wall Street companies for causing the economic crisis. Her opponent, incumbent Greg Abbott, shot back with news that she might be a little late to the party.
  • The Joe Barton drama just won't go away — and that's just fine for House Democrats, including Barton's now-big-name opponent, David Cozad. “I may be the only freshman Democrat in Congress next year,” Cozad told the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton.
  • The House Committee on Pensions, Investments and Financial Services will meet at 10 a.m. today to discuss school district retirement investments and job creation. This comes as cash-strapped states across the U.S. are looking at slashing pensions to combat budget woes.

“Joe’s little foot-in-mouth disease has basically put him in a position where a lot of his money has been neutralized. The big question is, how much money am I going to get?” — David Cozad on his prospects against opponent Barton

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