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The Brief: Sept. 21, 2010

He's back! But a little less on-fire this time.

Democratic candidate for Governor Farouk Shami  greets visitors at an evening meet and greet at the Celestial Room in downto…

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

He's back! But a little less on-fire this time.

That's Farouk Shami, the former gubernatorial candidate, self-made hair-care millionaire and now, apparently, political bridge-builder.

Shami, who ran for the Democratic nomination earlier this year, hosted Gov. Rick Perry and challenger Bill White at the kickoff event for his new organization, Arab-American Voters, on Monday night. The group, its founders say, hopes to politically mobilize Arab-Americans and help counter fear of and misinformation regarding Arabs and Muslims.

The two candidates, who've most recently been dueling over Perry's refusal to debate unless White releases certain tax returns, didn't cross paths, speaking separately to a crowd of about 200. But alongside Shami, things were all buddy-buddy for both, with White noting that he and Shami worked together during White's tenure as mayor of Houston, and Perry calling Shami a "great Texan, a great American" and telling the audience that "he's got better hair than I've got" (not faint praise).

Neither, though, strayed far from his usual stump speech, with talk centering largely on the state's finances. White was also sure to hit Perry on the debate debate, complementing Shami for debating him during the primary.

Shami, though, calling Perry "our great governor" and White the "greatest mayor," said he hadn't decided yet whom to vote for in November, the Austin-American Statesman reports. Instead, he directed much of the talk back toward his organization.

"Arab-American Voters originated because of my loss of an election. Necessity is the mother of invention. I didn't win," Shami said in an interview afterward, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Maybe he is still on fire.

CULLED:

  • With prodding from the Texas Observer, the office of Gov. Rick Perry, ever the opponent of Washington stimulus, released a letter sent by the governor to Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, requesting federal Medicaid matching funds — the very request he failed to sign on to in February. 
  • Speaking of Farouk Shami, he's got an eye on our GovTracker on Twitter, and if you don't already, you can, too.

"Are you trying to lose?"Jim Sharp, Democratic nominee for the Texas Supreme Court, to the Austin American-Statesman editorial board on the party's selection of Linda Chavez-Thompson for its nominee for lieutenant governor

MUST-READ:

Could Perry Fatigue Give Dems an Opening in TX?, RealClearPolitics

Life and death on the streets of Juárez, San Antonio Express-News

2 injured, 1 dead in Fort Bliss shooting, El Paso Times

Mexico Paper, a Drug War Victim, Calls for a Voice, The New York Times

Texas Legislature Filing More Bills Than Ever, The Texas Tribune

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