School's in. Labor Day is coming soon. And it's time for a scouting report on 21 Texas House races to watch this fall. We based our picks on interviews with politicos and consultants, our own analysis of district voting patterns, campaign coffers, the relative strength of the candidates and issues that could turn each contest.
Five Texas House incumbents have already been defeated in the primary: state Reps. Delwin Jones, R-Lubbock, Norma Chavez, D-El Paso, Tommy Merritt, R-Longview, Tara Rios-Ybarra, D-South Padre, and Betty Brown, R-Terrell. More than a dozen others — mostly freshman Democrats — appear vulnerable going into the fall.
Among the reasons for their inclusion: voter turnout favors Republicans (a generic R polls nearly ten points higher than a generic D in Texas); the Dallas Fort-Worth area is a hot bed of interesting House activity; and the "Obama wave" that swept in Democrats in 2008 may well turn into an Obama backlash. Republicans are betting the backlash will factor heavily in this blood-red cycle in already red state. But politics being local, some allegations of unethical behavior against two Republican incumbents may offset the national mood.
Most Endangered Incumbents
HD-52: Diana Maldonado, D-Round Rock, vs. Republican Larry Gonzales
Maldonado is a freshman Democrat in a district that's reliably Republican, setting her up for tough race even without factoring in this year's Republican climate. The former Round Rock School Board president won the seat in 2008 after longtime state Rep. Mike Krusee retired to the lobby. Gonzales — who finished second in the first round of the Republican primary but won handily in the runoff — has great friends in the GOP establishment from his days as a Capitol aide to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and running a graphic design company that dabbles in political direct mail. Both candidates will have enough money to run strong races, but Democrats privately acknowledge Maldonado has a tough row to hoe.
HD-85: Joe Heflin, D-Crosbyton, vs. Republican Jim Landtroop
A host of factors spell trouble for Heflin: a big-time anti-Democratic year, a huge geographic area to protect, and an partisan mismatch between the district and its representative in Austin. Sure, this is the home base of well-liked former Democratic speaker Pete Laney, who was Heflin's predecessor, but it's also the most Republican House district held by a Democratic member, according to the Texas Weekly Index, a measurement of partisan rankings by district. The pro-Laney vibe that helped Heflin beat Plainview's Landtroop in 2006 appears to be less of a salve: Heflin barely won in 2008 — arguably the best year for Democrats in Texas in the past decade.
HD-3: Mark Homer, D-Paris, vs. Republican Erwin Cain
Like other East Texas Democrats, Homer is a candidate who's almost always on the ropes, and it's no different this year. His is one of the handful of districts where a Democrat won the House race while John McCain was winning the presidential vote in 2008. Homer and the other WD-40s (White Democrats over 40) run the gauntlet cycle after cycle, and so far he's managed to survive. Some Democrats say privately that they fear they'll lose at least one East Texas seat and that this one's the most perilous.
HD-105: Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, vs. Democrat Loretta Haldenwang
Harper-Brown barely eked out a 19-vote victory in 2008, when Barack Obama carried her district by four percentage points. This cycle, Haldenwang — a former to state Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio — is getting a lot of establishment Democratic help to take out the woman they're referring to as "Linda Harper-Benz". The four-term incumbent, who sits on the House Transportation Committee, has endured criticism for driving a Mercedes paid for by a contractor with business before the Texas Department of Transportation. Harper-Brown has fought back against the charges in a web video (since pulled down), saying she did nothing wrong in using the car and insisting that Washington forces are working against her. Harper-Brown has returned the Mercedes, but the questions swirling around the situation haven't gone away. "The ingredients are here to oust an incumbent," says a hopeful Robert Jones, the political director for Annie's List, a Democratic political action committee supporting Haldenwang. The demographics of the district are also worth noting. The Irving area is heavily Latino and, increasingly, working class.
HD-133: Kristi Thibaut, D-Houston, vs. Republican Jim Murphy
Thibaut and former state Rep. Murphy are becoming perennial political foes. He beat her in a race for this seat in 2006, and she beat him in 2008. Now he's ready to reclaim his job, and Thibaut, as a freshman Democrat, is vulnerable. The Texas Weekly Index shows HD-133 favored the Democratic slate of candidates in 2008 by an average of less than 10 points. One thing that Republicans admit could work in Thibaut's favor: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White's popularity in Harris County. White was twice re-elected mayor with more than 85 percent of the vote, so if independents and Republicans in Harris County bypass straight-ticket voting to support him and look elsewhere on the ballot, it could be enough to help Thibaut. "It's a question of magnitude," says one Republican consultant. There aren't that many swing voters in the district, says Thibaut consultant Kier Murray. Other Houston observers agree there are few undecideds here, so its going to be about turnout.
Five on the Bubble
HD-101: Robert Miklos, D-Mesquite, vs. Republican Cindy Burkett
The GOP sounds enthusiastic about this race. Freshman Miklos was helped by a strong Obama effect in 2008. He is a smart, articulate attorney; Burkett is a well-liked Republican activist who owns a chain of Subway restaurants in the community. Democrats say Miklos' name ID is helped by his previous run here, and he has the support of fire, police, and teachers groups — so even without the straight-ticket presidential election year voters, he can still count on local backing. But Republicans have a few arrows in their quiver: Female candidates have a slight advantage; there's no vote-shaving Libertarian candidate in the face to worry about; and the reliably Democratic African American turnout will be smaller than it was in 2008 without Obama on the ticket.
HD-113: Joe Driver, R-Garland, vs. Democrat Jamie Dorris
Even in 2008, when Republicans didn't have the wind at their backs, McCain beat Obama in this district by 12 percentage points. But news that Driver double-billed his campaign and taxpayers for the same expenses to the tune of at least $17,000 just doesn't sound good — never mind that it might be illegal. Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg has said she's looking into "the Driver situation." Driver admits the double billing but calls it was a mistake and emphasizes that he's already paid the money back to his campaign account. Driver's explanation — that he didn't know any better — makes him look incompetent at best. His supporters counter that Dorris, a human resources consultant and political newbie, just moved into the district and is living with her parents in order to be eligible.
HD-102: Carol Kent, D-Dallas, vs. Republican Stefani Carter
In a district that was long held by Republican Tony Goolsby, Carter hopes to pick off freshman Kent, yet another incumbent boosted by the Obama wave of 2008. Now that the GOP base is energized, the simple math of the district may be enough to swing it back. Carter is a Harvard-educated former Collin County prosecutor with deep ties to the Dallas district, and she's an African-American Republican, which could help her win a portion of the black vote that typically goes Democratic. Opponents have accused her of plagiarizing an Obama speech, but her team is taking on Kent for allegedly benefitting from the per diem she receives from the state.
HD-47: Valinda Bolton, D-Austin, vs. Republican Paul Workman
Republicans think the district, which includes some of the area's most affluent suburbs but also is home to white-collar job cutbacks, gives them a chance to turn this part of Travis County red. Bolton first won here in 2006 and was re-elected by just a couple thousand votes in 2008. Workman is won a tough primary and runoff, and he's raised an impressive amount of money — $100,000 in the first half of this year (he also has deep enough pockets to self-finance). The key for Workman is to turn his message from the Republican raw meat he served up during the primary to more local issues that will sway independents. Still, Bolton has the edge. She survived a test in her first re-election race against Donna Keel, and the Travis County Democratic Party is working hard to protect her. A sustained high turnout in the county, where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two to one, will work to her advantage.
HD-96: Chris Turner, D-Arlington, vs. Republican Bill Zedler
Based on sheer demographics alone, this rematch between Turner and former state Rep. Zedler favors the latter. The Republicans supporting Zedler will try to Turner's voting record against him. "In 2008, he was running as an outsider against the system, and [he] now has a record that's going to be tough to explain to some of the folks in the district," says Republican consultant Todd Olsen, whose Associated Republicans of Texas group is financially supporting Zedler. The only hitch may be Zedler himself. Republicans privately say hard-working Turner couldn't have drawn a more ideal opponent than Zedler, who's awkward personal style and hard-right values are detached from his suburban Arlington district, where new voters are moving in and the issues they care about are in flux.
Eleven Possible Upsets
HD-34: Abel Herrero, D-Corpus Christi, vs. Republican Connie Scott
The incumbent represents a swing district that reliably elects Republican officials: a GOP county judge, a GOP sheriff and three GOP county commissioners. It also chose McCain over Obama in 2008. Scott challenged Herrero that year and lost, and Democrats are confident their man will prevail again. But the year's political mood swing could be a bad harbinger for Herrero, especially since Scott comes armed with money and a motivated volunteer force she didn't have in 2008. Scott and her husband, who owns a big construction company, have been involved in Republican politics in the area for years, which helps her offset Herrero's good name ID. "Tea party folks may not have been involved before but are interested in a number of issues created by the Obama administration," says Craig Murphy, Scott's consultant. "And they're disproportionately in that district."
HD-1: Stephen Frost, D-New Boston, vs. Republican George Lavender
This is an East Texas race, so the raw numbers aren't with the Democrat. Lavender is a small businessman who's been active in the GOP within the past few years, but sources on both sides of the aisle say he hasn't impressed donors enough to get the money he needs to make a real run at the incumbent. "I think he will be outspent, especially running against someone like Frost, who will get a lot of money from outside the district," says Olsen. There's still time for the financial tide to turn in Lavender's favor. "He ain't the same candidate he was two years ago," says Republican consultant Allen Blakemore. "He's taken a few more test drives and is a far more confident, polished candidate this time around."
HD-138: Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston, vs. Democrat Kendra Yarborough-Camarena
This Houston district remains Republican-leaning, but it's slowly trending Democratic. It has a heavy concentration of apartment homes and an increasing Latino population, which is enough to make Bohac a target. Yarborough-Camarena's father, Ken Yarborough, lost to Bohac in 2002, and she's going to make an issue of the 2009 flap over Bohac's business partner working inside the Harris County Voter Registration office, potentially to the benefit of Bohac or his consulting clients (Bohac has denied any wrongdoing). The challenge for the Ds is that Bohac, who was born and raised in the district, has done a great job of paying attention to his constituents, and the numbers show he consistently outperforms other local Rs. He's also a tenacious campaigner who "block walks like no one I've ever met," says a Republican consultant who's not on his payroll.
HD-45: Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs vs. Republican Jason Isaac
This is another Democrat-held house district that McCain carried in 2008. "Isaac is the perfect candidate in a perfect year," says GOP consultant Eric Bearse. Isaac raised a few eyebrows this summer when he showed a fundraising haul greater than that of Rose's last three GOP opponents combined. He's running in a year when Rose can't rely on strong Democratic turnout to get re-elected. But Rose is a prolific fundraiser himself and almost certainly won't be outspent. "Anyone who underestimates [Rose] is a fool," says GOP consultant Jason Johnson. "Representative Rose has consistently proven to be a hard worker who communicates with his constituents and evaluates legislation based on how it will impact his district first and his party second. ... The district he represents is probably to the right of him, but at the end of the day, he really works very hard to thread the needle."
HD-56: Charles "Doc" Anderson, R-Waco, vs. Democrat John Mabry
In a district that went 69 percent for McCain in 2008, incumbent Anderson would have nothing to worry about — if not for news that two federal tax liens totaling nearly $70,000 were filed against him this year. He blames a dispute between him and the I.R.S. The two-term Central Texas veterinarian beat then-Rep. Mabry in 2004, the first cycle after 2003's mid-decade redistricting. Mabry hopes voters will remember him this time around. Anderson will have to run more aggressively than he has in the past two election cycles to maintain his advantage.
HD-78: Joe Moody, D-El Paso, vs. Republican Dee Margo
Margo has gone 0-for-2 so far in his bid for a spot in the Legislature, but the insurance company CEO — an exceptional fundraiser, with big El Paso backers like Paul Foster and Woody Hunt in his corner — could take what Olsen calls "as much of a Republican district in El Paso as you're going to get." Some argue that he lost two years ago to freshman Moody only because Obama advertised on El Paso TV to win New Mexico. Until 2008, the seat belonged to Republican Pat Haggerty, who lost the primary to Margo that year. Margo consultant Kevin Shuvalov calls Moody's victory in the general election that followed an anomaly made possible by Obama-driven straight-ticket votes. Democrats say El Paso is still Democratic, and say the incumbent is helped by a good political name: His father, Bill Moody, has been on the judicial ballot there for years.
HD-35: Yvonne Gonzales Toureilles, D-Beeville, vs. Republican Jose Aliseda
The possible concern for Democrats here is the seven-county district that stretches from just south of San Antonio to north of Corpus Christi and around to Alice. Obama lost by double digits in 2008. Gonzales Toureilles counts on the Alice and Kingsville parts of her district; Aliseda calls Beeville home. With so much ground to protect, geography's a major factor. Aliseda, a former Bush and Perry appointee, isn't as well known as the incumbent. Even so, she'll have to fight — and raise money. "When you have multi-media markets, resources are going to be important," says Olsen.
HD-48: Donna Howard, D-Austin, vs. Republican Dan Neil
Howard's assets: She has lived through several reelection races already, stockpiled cash for a couple of cycles, and the political lore holds that women turn out more than men in this west Travis County district. According one of his fundraising letters, Neil, the former UT All-American and Denver Broncos offensive lineman, will be targeting Howard's record on a few social issues, like when she voted against putting "In God We Trust" over the House voting board. But how well will social issues play with the business Republicans in this district?
HD-17: Tim Kleinschmidt, R-Austin, vs. Democrat Pati Jacobs
Freshman Kleinschmidt hasn't been in office long enough to get thrown out because of the anti-incumbent wave, and his district is reliably red. But it was long held by Democrat Robbie Cook. Jacobs is a political neophyte who nevertheless should be able to stand her ground on rural issues like protecting water and conservation of natural resources. And there's this: Bastrop accounts for about 40 percent of the vote; to the extent that Bastrop has become an Austin bedroom community, with more voters who vote like Austinites, Democrats have a small sliver of hope.
HD-144: Ken Legler, R-Pasadena, vs. Democrat Rick Molina
This district, previously represented by conservative state Rep. Robert Talton, is becoming very Hispanic on the north side and the numbers might give Democrats an outside chance. The freshman incumbent won by a hair in 2008. "It's pretty Democratic — it just doesn't vote in high numbers," Murray says. To his advantage, Legler has a base of voters that turns out. And some Democrats complain that Molinas has been politically lethargic so far.
HD-114: Will Hartnett, R-Dallas, vs. Democrat John Wellik
Hartnett is in a district gradually becoming a swing area, and Wellik, an accountant, is expected to get enough money in the fall to run a decent challenge against the ten-term incumbent. Democrats hang their hopes on the fact Hartnett hasn't been tested for a long time, but privately concede this district will be tough to take.
Tom DeLay isn't popular in Travis County, and he knows it. That's why he wanted his trial moved to another jurisdiction. But Judge Pat Priest decided at a pretrial hearing this week that wasn't enough to merit a change of venue for his trial on money laundering charges. As the former majority leader of the U.S. House listened, witnesses testified again and again in a Travis County criminal court that potential jurors in the predominantly Democratic county don't like him — and they feel strongly about it.
To get a trial moved, a defendant must prove that the potential jury pool is so prejudiced against him that he won't be able to get a fair trial. On Wednesday, his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, called pollsters and lawyers with jury trial experience in what he called the "most political county in the state" to testify that jurors here could not weigh the case against DeLay impartially. Austin pollster Mark Del Signore said that, in a survey conducted this week, 59 percent of Travis County voters had a negative opinion of DeLay. Forty percent believed he was guilty of money laundering, and — at this, the Sugar Land Republican gave a bemused smile — only 2 percent have a strongly positive impression of him. The negative opinion numbers did put DeLay ahead of the last Republican president in the poll, something Priest referenced during a lull in the proceedings, saying "at least [DeLay] can take comfort in that he beat George Bush."
Anthony Icenogle, an Austin-based litigator called to the stand by DeGuerin, offered an anecdote as an example of how potential jurors feel about DeLay in Travis County. He said that when he told his secretary that he was going to a hearing in DeLay's case, she responded by calling the former congressman a "thief," adding that he thought that was "a common sentiment in Travis County."
"I'd like to apologize to Mr. DeLay for bringing this up in open court," he said.
DeGuerin presented a file of Austin American-Statesman articles dating back to 2006 as further evidence of the county's animus against DeLay. He said the newspaper's "unrelenting" coverage of DeLay has contributed to his unfriendly reception there. To prove his point, he held up Wednesday's paper and read the first sentence of a story covering the previous day's hearing, which reads, "Tom DeLay is headed to trial on money laundering charges, his lawyer conceded Tuesday "
The word "conceded" needled DeGuerin. "We've been asking for a trial for five years, we didn't concede anything," he told the judge. "But that's just the way the Austin paper does things."
To counter such testimony, the state called Michelle Brinkman, who supervises the jury selection process in Travis County and challenged the assumption that it was predominantly Democratic. In 2004, she pointed out, George W. Bush received around 40 percent of the vote — and said in her experience, jury pools in Travis County tend to consist of "people who have voted about 40 percent Republican and 60 percent Democrat." The state also challenged the validity of the poll numbers showing DeLay's unpopularity, with witness Monica Davis, who runs a media monitoring service. Davis testified that in her line of work, she would question results obtained by "piggybacking" the questions on to another poll without knowing the greater context of that poll — which DeLay's pollster testified he did not do.
Leaving the courtroom during a midday break, DeLay said the negativity about him in the poll "surprised" him. He added: "I understand what the price of leadership is, and what the press is, and I've lived with it for now going on thirty years."
The trial date has tentatively been set for Oct. 26 — a week before Election Day.
Nothing to See Here, Folks
And with a court ruling and a withdrawal from the ballot, Brian Birdwell is assured of a two-year term in the Texas Senate starting in January. A challenge to his residency fell short last week, and the next day, Democrat John Cullar of Waco dropped out of the race. That leaves Birdwell alone on the ballot at the end of a year where he's prevailed through a special election, a runoff, a small-group vote to get on the November ballot, and a last-ditch lawsuit from Cullar and the state's Democratic Party his eligibility to serve in the Senate.
That result also closes the only noisy race in the Senate section of the ballot. Senators serve staggered terms, and 16 seats are on the ballot this year. Counting SD-22, where Birdwell can start his victory lap, there are eight senators without major party opponents. Only two of those — Birdwell and Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler — are free and clear, with no Democrat, Libertarian or Green Party candidates between them and getting sworn in next January. Of the eight contested races, only two include Libertarian candidates in addition to the major-party entries. And none of those appear to be truly competitive — each is in a district safely drawn for a candidate of one party or the other, and only one — El Paso's SD-29 race between Republican Dan Chavez and Democrat Jose Rodriguez — is an open seat. Democrats have always held it and the betting line is that it'll remain that way this year.
This is the last regular election under the current Senate maps; after next year's census and redistricting, all 31 senators will be on the 2012 ballot, presumably with some competitive races.
Flotsam & Jetsam
Francisco "Quico" Canseco touts a poll showing him with a 43 percent to 37 percent leader over U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio. That landed in email boxes as part of a fundraising pitch from the challenger. Onmessage did the survey; details weren't available.
Stefani Carter got a celebrity endorsement from actor Jon Voight, who doesn't live in the district but likes the Republican challenger more than incumbent state Rep. Carol Kent, D-Dallas. Voight was actually at a fundraiser for Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman who was in Dallas raising money. But he endorsed Carter in HD-102 and posed for a photo with her.
Jeff Weems, the Democrat in the race for Texas Railroad Commission, started running radio ads, telling supporters to send him money to keep them on the air. He's running against Republican David Porter, who defeated incumbent Victor Carrillo in the March primary.
The Week in the Rearview Mirror
The debate debate fueled a new ad from the Democratic Back to Basics PAC, which bought ads in newspapers around the state with a dark picture of Gov. Rick Perry under the word "Coward." Democrat Bill White disavowed it, though it harmonizes with his own voter email saying Perry is "afraid." Perry dismissed the ad, telling a group in Temple that Texas voters don't like that sort of ad and predicting it will backfire on the Democrat even if he had nothing to do with it.
Even anchor babies lose their appeal in border and immigration headlines when shots are being fired. The El Paso Times report on a law enforcement-cartel gun battle last weekend in Juarez revealed that one of the forty or so bullets fired found its way across the border and into a building at the University of Texas at El Paso. Local law enforcement officials insist that no extra steps can be taken to prevent bullets from straying into El Paso, but both Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. John Cornyn used the incident to renew their call on the federal government to send more National Guard troops to the border.
Republicans mostly fell into line decrying the building of a mosque at Ground Zero. But Ron Paul, R-Surfside, has always been his own man, and he released a statement this week supporting the rights of the New York property owners to build as they see fit, and chastising the media and public officials for wasting time debating the issue.
Under legislative and public pressure to do better monitoring of the Barnett Shale, a large natural gas field in north Texas, state regulators are installing eight new automated gas chromatographs this year and having an independent company analyze the results. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was accused of suppressing test results that showed harmful levels of toxic chemicals. That testing will cost $2 million.
Texas' foster care agency is reporting that a teenager who collapsed while hiking died. The 17-year-old was a resident at the Five Oaks Achievement Center in New Ulm, a town just west of Houston. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is suspending placements at the facility until their investigation of the incident is completed. Residential treatment centers are where the most troubled foster children in state care are placed.
No rolling blackouts for Texas. Reported record usage stemming from sweltering temperatures has put heavy demand on the state's biggest electrical grid. But the operator of that grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, confirmed that there weren't any major problems with the system handling the record load.
Texas school kids will have to earn their grades — even the Fs. School districts that wanted to have a minimum grade for kids lost a lawsuit earlier this summer contesting a truth-in-grading law. They now say they won't appeal the decision. A 2009 law requires teachers to assign actual grades instead of establishing minimum grades for students who fail. The court ruled that the statute applied to not only assignments and tests, but also to grades on report cards.
Meanwhile, students can now legitimately browse iTunes when they're working on homework. The Texas Education Agency negotiated a deal with Apple to allow teachers and students to download multimedia lessons, videos and podcasts to help them with schoolwork and to supplement teachers' lessons. The platform also allows teachers to post reviews of each other's lesson plans and videos, offering advice to their colleagues. The rest of the content is available to any user and can even be downloaded to a student's iPod.
Political People and Their Moves
The Texas Department of Public Safety has never had a female director, or, until now a female deputy director. Cheryl MacBride has been named the agency's first deputy director for services, running several divisions there.
Enrique Marquez is bound for House Speaker Joe Straus' press office, where he'll join Tracy Young. He's been the communications guy at the Texas Association of Business.
Michael Wright is the new head of public affairs at the Texas Pharmacy Association. He's leaving Hoffmann-La Roche to take that job.
Gov. Rick Perry appointed:
Harold Hahn, chairman of Rocky Mountain Mortgage Co. in El Paso, to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Sandra Shoemaker of Fort Worth to the Aerospace and Aviation Advisory Committee. She's the vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co.
Scott McLaughlin of El Paso, president of Stagecoach Cartage and Distribution, as chair of the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority.
Martha Hernandez of Diboll and Diane Threadgill of Midlothian to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Hernandez is vice president of First Bank and Trust East Texas. Threadgill volunteers for a number of organizations.
Deaths: Former state Rep. Anita Blair of El Paso — that city's first female legislator and according to the El Paso Times, the first blind person elected to office in the state. She was 93. ... Mike Allen, a former priest who co-founded the Texas Border Coalition and led the McAllen Economic Development Corp, from chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was 72.
Quotes of the Week
Robert Rowling, a former University of Texas System regent, quoted in the Texas Tribune on whether that was a perk: "The whole idea that the big donors give money and get the appointment in return? My gosh, spare me. I already had good football tickets — you know what I'm saying?"
Texas billionaire Sam Wyly to The New York Times on the recent securities fraud suit filed against him and his brother, Charles Wyly: "They gonna lose. They gonna get nothing Tee-hee-hee-hee!"
House State Affairs Committee Chairman Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, on whether conservative lawmakers will wait on a final outcome in the Arizona immigration bill before filing their own legislation, to the Texas Tribune: "The idea that people are going to wait and sit around and see what the outcome of Arizona is that we aren't going to try and do anything, I don't think that's what we're going to be doing."
UTEP President Diana Natalico's reaction to a stray bullet fired from Mexico hitting a building on the school's hilltop campus, in The El Paso Times: "We recognize that it is a random occurrence, a random event, and there is not a whole lot we can do on a practical level to protect ourselves from random events, that's very difficult to do."
U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, on the plan to build an Islamic community center near the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York: "Even though we may have a right to do something, that doesn't always mean it is the proper or correct thing to do."
Defeated Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, asked if she plans to vote for Gov. Rick Perry — who won a GOP primary against her and Kay Bailey Hutchison — in November: "I doubt it. That's a tough place for me to be." On whether she'll vote for Democrat Bill White instead: "Oh, no."
Former state Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, on whether he'll lobby now that he's left the Legislature, quoted in the Waco Tribune-Herald: "I might be just doing it on a volunteer basis."
Texas Parks and Wildlife spokesman Robert McCorkle, telling the Texas Tribune why it's taking so long for that agency to issue and use bonds approved by voters: "It's state government — hello!"
Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, after a judge decided he'll be tried in Austin on campaign money laundering charges: "I hope I can get a fair trial here. We'll find out."
Contributors: Julian Aguilar, Reeve Hamilton, Ceryta Holm, Elise Hu, and Morgan Smith
Texas Weekly: Volume 27, Issue 32, 30 August 2010. Ross Ramsey, Editor. Copyright 2010 by The Texas Tribune. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. One-year online subscription: $250. For information about your subscription, call (512) 716-8600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For news, email email@example.com, or call (512) 716-8611.