THE BIG CONVERSATION:
Rick Perry or no Rick Perry, the show — Texas news outlets have decided — must go on.
The Austin American-Statesman's Jason Embry reports today that the Statesman, along with the state's other major newspapers and Austin public TV station KLRU, will host a gubernatorial debate in October, even if only one candidate (read: Bill White) shows up.
Both Perry and White will receive letters today — signed by editors of the Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News, as well as the CEO of KLRU — inviting them to the debate at the University of Texas on Oct. 19. "If only one candidate shows up for the debate, we will discuss issues with him alone for the entire hour," the letter reads.
Perry has refused to participate in any debate until White releases tax returns dating back to his time in the U.S. Department of Energy. White has said Perry's stalling and that his "handlers" don't want him to answer questions.
A one-man show might complicate broadcast plans, though, given that federal regulations specify that stations must provide equal on-air time to opposing candidates. Newspapers, though, will stream the debate online, where it will face no such restrictions.
Following a September poll, the debate hosts will extend invitations to all candidates who register at least 10 percent support, Embry notes. Perry and White's invitations are thus assured, but it remains to be seen whether Libertarian nominee Katherine Glass will cross that threshold.
- Representatives for Gov. Rick Perry will meet with officials from Washington today to determine whether Texas will be able to secure $830 million in federal education aid, which was offered to Texas with strings attached as part of a jobs bill that Congress passed earlier this month.
- Residency allegations are the new black, it seems. On Thursday, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, Steve Munisteri, accused Democratic state Rep. Jim Dunnam of living outside House District 57, which he represents. Marva Beck, Dunnam's Republican challenger, said in a statement, "This is the kind of deliberate dishonesty that we are fed up with from politicians and political leaders." Dunnam, who faced similar accusations in 2002, said he didn't think the accusations would resonate with voters this time. "The people in Central Texas know the truth about this stuff, and they know the real deal," he said.
- If elected, Bill White wants insurers to get state approval before hiking homeowner policy rates, he announced Thursday. "This type of plan has worked in other states where insurance premiums are lower. It's time we had a governor who stuck up for ordinary Texans," White said. Gov. Rick Perry's spokesman, Mark Miner: "It's not surprising that a liberal trial lawyer like Bill White would address the issue by calling for increased regulation."
- Never missing a chance to boost your politics-geek quotient, the Tribune has a rundown for you of the 21 Texas House races to watch this fall. If you're anything like your trusty Brief writer, you'll be printing it out to impress your friends at cocktail parties.
"I came in with a certain philosophical view. I don't have that anymore." — Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, who's said he's changed his mind about the use of the death penalty
TYC ombudsman resigns, Austin American-Statesman
Texas quiet on border force, The Associated Press
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins shifts stance on death penalty, The Dallas Morning News
Will SCOTUS Opinions Affect TX Judicial Elections?, The Texas Tribune