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."
- Officials from Fort Hood, the Army post still reeling from four suspected suicides this past weekend, announced Wednesday that they're conducting reviews to identity at-risk soldiers.
- The ads are coming hard and fast in the Congressional race between Chet Edwards and Republican challenger Bill Flores. Wednesday brought one new spot from Flores and two from Edwards.
- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger earlier this week vetoed a bill seeking to prevent Texas social studies curriculum from seeping into California schools.
"This guy is likely the most unfit person to run for office in recent Texas history." — Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples on opponent Hank Gilbert
- Texas Governors' Race Goes National as Parties Eye Long-Term Gains, ABC News
- Dallas County DA Watkins won't appear Sunday on 'Inside Texas Politics', The Dallas Morning News
- Switch to nodal grid system could trouble Texas electric providers, The Dallas Morning News
- Controversial Jail Program Now Includes All Texas Counties, The Texas Tribune
- Texas Anti-Idling Rules are Due for an Update, The Texas Tribune
Countdown to the start of early voting: 18 days. Last day to register to vote: Oct. 4.