The Brief: June 23, 2010

Three months after his retirement, it might be back to work for Kip Averitt.

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Three months after his retirement, it might be back to work for Kip Averitt.

At least that's what the former Waco Repulican state senator said this week could be the case if retired Army officer Brian Birdwell won Tuesday's special-election runoff to fill the remainder of Averitt's term. Birdwell ended up not only winning last night but took nearly 60 percent of the vote against challenger David Sibley, a former Republican state senator who ran with more funds and institutional support on hand.

Averitt — who resigned in March due to health problems but could not remove his name from the Republican primary ballot, and won — has no problem with Birdwell, he has said. He's simply worried that Democrats might target Birdwell over a five-year state residency requirement, nabbing the seat from Republicans in the process. "It’s nothing personal against Mr. Birdwell, but we need to make sure there’s a Republican candidate on the ballot," Averitt told the Waco Tribune-Herald.

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The Tribune's Reeve Hamilton has more on the political implications of Birdwell's victory, which also comes at a time of high anti-incumbent sentiment and, of course, Tea Party fervor:

In the meantime, Birdwell’s triumph represents yet another victory this year for the no-compromise wing of the Republican Party. A central attack raised — accurately — by Birdwell has been that Sibley, in his post-Senate lobbying career, donated repeatedly to Democrats. Asked if his lobbying job may have hurt him, Sibley said, “It hasn’t helped." In fact, it looks like it hurt enough to negate the backing of some heavy hitters: former President George W. Bush; U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis; state Reps. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, and Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie; and, of course, Averitt.

Whatever Averitt's decision, expect it to be labored. "I really don’t want to go back," he told the Trib before the election. "I’m enjoying my life as it is right now. I’m feeling very good, and my health is back. I’m doing very well."

CULLED:

  • Democrats are still calling for his head, but Republicans say it's unlikely that U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, who famously apologized to BP last week during a House hearing, will lose his seat as the top Republican on the House energy committee.
  • A federal court has ruled against a creationism think tank suing to force the state to allow it to issue master's degrees in science education.
  • Democrats are hitting House Speaker Joe Straus for allowing a redistricting committee merger that will cut minority committee representation. In a letter to Straus, three members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus wrote: "Mr. Speaker, when you first took office you made a firm commitment that the House governance would reflect the decision of Texas voters to place a virtually equal number of Democrats as Republicans in the Texas House. This apparently unilateral decision to alter the partisan makeup of the panel conducting the preparation for 2011 redistricting is contrary to that pledge."

"The law requires politicians to disclose every expenditure so the public can see if they are spending campaign money on their own, personal creature comforts." — Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, a watchdog group that filed a complaint Tuesday pressing the Texas Ethics Commission to require Gov. Rick Perry to provide itemized reports of his dealings with the Governor's Mansion

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