THE BIG CONVERSATION:
Here's how to make an endorsement splash: Don't.
Take it from the Texas Farm Bureau, the powerful 420,000-member lobby whose political committee decided Wednesday that it wouldn't be weighing in on the governor's race — the first time the group hasn't done so since it started endorsing in 1990. It has supported the Republican candidate in every gubernatorial race since.
The committee didn't appear likely to endorse Democrat Bill White, given its endorsement history, but the group had cooled in its already tepid support of Gov. Rick Perry in recent years, most recently for his veto of a Farm Bureau-backed eminent domain bill in 2007 and his support for the Trans-Texas Corridor.
White painted the non-endorsement as a win. "I’ve been talking with Farm Bureau members all over the state, and they know I’ll be looking out for them as governor, regardless of politics," he said in a statement.
Perry's campaign downplayed the move, saying the governor had already shored up significant support from the Texas farming community. "We're confident that Gov. Perry, because of his policies and leadership in Texas, will have the support of numerous farmers and ranchers throughout the state," said spokesman Mark Miner, who had previously dismissed the group when it threw its support behind U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Republican primary.
- Key provisions of federal health care reform — including a mandate that insurance companies allow parents to enroll nonstudent dependents up to the age of 26 — take effect starting today. But a last-minute decision by a number of major health insurers could leave tens of thousands of children without health insurance, the Houston Chronicle reports.
- Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday that Texas will likely receive the $830 million in jobs aid from which it's been blocked, but that didn't impress Gov. Rick Perry, who's been criticizing Democrats for attaching a Texas-only provision to emergency funding.
- The Tribune's Reeve Hamilton talked with Stephen Broden, the Republican challenging embattled longtime U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, about his chances of winning, receiving Sarah Palin's stamp of approval, and minorities and the Tea Party. "If you look at the percentages, you would probably say that African-Americans represent about 8 to 10 percent of the population in America. And if you go to these [Tea Party] events, you would probably see about 10 percent African-Americans," Broden says. "If it’s 500,000 people, like it was in Washington, D.C., 10 percent of that would be about 50,000. And if they’re not all standing together, 50,000 doesn’t look like very much in 500,000, does it?"
- Democratic candidates for the State Board of Education are capitalizing on the board's latest foray into controversy, with a Daily Kos-promoted fundraising drive netting more than $15,000 for Rebecca Bell-Metereau and Judy Jennings, The Texas Independent reports.
"I guess perhaps it speaks to the times we find ourselves in where people are so unwilling to find grounds of commonality where we do agree despite some honest differences and firmly held differences of opinion." — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, speaking at a fundraising event for gay and lesbian group Log Cabin Republicans. Cornyn opposes gay marriage and a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" military policy.
Calderón vows to back law to protect journalists, San Antonio Express-News
Texas officials say they plan to withdraw their proposal to add stricter staffing requirements for day cares, Austin American-Statesman
Special delivery for Houston drug traffickers, Houston Chronicle
Texas Leads Resistance to EPA Climate Action, The Texas Tribune