Skip to main content

The Brief: Sept. 30, 2010

The puns — slinging mud, flinging dirt — write themselves in this year's agriculture commissioner's race.

Lead image for this article

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

The puns — slinging mud, flinging dirt — write themselves in this year's agriculture commissioner's race.

After all, not even in this year's cage match of a governor's race has either candidate called his opponent a "pathological political liar," as Republican incumbent Todd Staples describes Democrat Hank Gilbert to the Tribune's Ross Ramsey, who has a write-up today on the year's dirtiest statewide race that most Texans will likely never hear of.

That low profile has caused Gilbert to come out swinging against Staples, who already handily defeated Gilbert once in 2006. This time, the Democrat's waving his arms, largely relying on what he calls "hits" — small plays for media attention that Gilbert hopes will resonate for voters not tuned into agriculture issues. His latest took aim at Staples for lapsed gas pump inspections.

"If push came to shove, I think we could make a heckuva race out of this with the strategy we've employed," Gilbert says.

But much of the drama has played out online, with both campaigns launching their own attack websites: Staples' GuiltyGuiltyGilbert.com and Gilbert's SleazySleazyStaples.com. Gilbert says his site only attacks Staples' job performance — "that is, if you don't consider being called 'sleazy' a personal insult," Ramsey notes. The two have also taken aim at each other — verging on the personal at times — on Twitter. 

Staples says interest in the race is up this year. "I guess he's just been more bold in his deception this time," he says of Gilbert. "He's getting some coverage he didn't get four years ago."

And Gilbert seems more than pleased with that: "I like where we are. I like that we've got under his skin a little bit."

CULLED:

"This guy is likely the most unfit person to run for office in recent Texas history." — Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples on opponent Hank Gilbert

MUST-READ:

Countdown to the start of early voting: 18 days. Last day to register to vote: Oct. 4.

Quality journalism doesn't come free

Yes, I'll donate today