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The Brief: June 25, 2010

That extra spring in Democrats' step this weekend? Blame it on the Green Party.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

State Democrats might be a little more chipper than expected this weekend as they descend on Corpus Christi for their state convention. For that, thank the Green Party.

Gearing up for their gathering this weekend, state Democrats were already experiencing a rare streak of political fortune, seeing Republicans squirm over the fallout from Apologygate and trumpeting a poll released this week showing Gov. Rick Perry and Democratic challenger Bill White in a dead heat. That good fortune continued Thursday as a judge ruled that the Green Party could not appear on the state ballot this fall.

Oh, and the whole thing implicated a former chief of staff to Perry.

The state Democratic Party had filed a suit against the Greens, whom it alleged had improperly — possibly with the backing of Republican forces looking to siphon votes from Democrats — gathered signatures to get their party on the ballot for the fall. State District Judge John Dietz issued the injunction Thursday, finding that donations funding the petition drive violated state laws banning corporate contributions.

Testimony incriminated Toomey, the former Perry staffer, who was said to have paid a University of Texas student to organize the drive.

Democrats pounced. "We're obviously never happy about making it difficult for parties or interests to get on the ballot," said Chad Dunn, general counsel for the state Democratic Party, according to The Associated Press. "But we couldn't stand for corporations coordinated by the inner circle of Rick Perry's office trying to buy access for another party."

Perry's campaign denied any involvement with the petition or with Toomey.

Meanwhile, as Democrats do their dance, look for another dance to shuffle its way back into the spotlight this weekend as the party revisits that funny little jig, the "Texas Two-Step." The Tribune's Brandi Grissom — who will be covering the convention this weekend with the Trib's Reeve Hamilton and Ben Philpott — has a report, as does the Houston Chronicle.

CULLED:

  • With the convention under way, it's all eyes on Bill White's ears. Er, ideas. "I'm a mainstream person who is a fiscal conservative," he tells The Dallas Morning News. "I believe in opportunity, which means improvements in public education and higher education. We also have people of deep faith in our party, including me. And we don't use a party to proselytize our faith." The former Houston mayor will deliver the keynote address tonight.
  • Some former Enron workers are on edge after the Supreme Court ruled that a lower court should review the conviction of the company's former CEO, Jeffrey K. Skilling.

"Bill White's policies are so far out of touch, he's going to have trouble reaching out to Republicans, independents and a majority of Texans." — Mark Miner, spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry, on the conventional wisdom that White has made inroads with Republicans after the divisive intraparty fighting between Perry and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison

MUST-READ:

Some down-ballot Democrats hope to ride White's coattails to victoryDallas Morning News

Public workers must wait for new health law benefitsAustin American-Statesman

The Town George W. Bush Made Famous Has Changed — The Texas Tribune

Competition hot for Texas lottery contract — The Associated Press

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