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The Brief: Oct. 19, 2010

Interpret however you will, but the first-day numbers are in for early voting — and they're up.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Interpret however you will, but the first-day numbers are in for early voting — and they're up.

That's the case, at least, in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, which all reported turnout eclipsing 2006 first-day totals. In Harris County, numbers were way up, with 26,051 casting ballots, more than three times the 8,545 who voted on day one in 2006.

A number of factors could be contributing to the jump, but a competitive governor's race and a number of hot legislative races likely played the largest role. The Morning News notes that in Dallas, a city initiative on alcohol sales might have played a role there.

Problems were rare but were spotted in Harris County, where some voters in mainly minority precincts reported possible intimidation tactics by poll workers, according to the Houston Chronicle, which notes that some are accused of "hovering over" voters and "getting into election workers' faces."

And in El Paso, some voters reported confusion over a ballot measure aiming to revoke domestic partner benefits for city employees. The proposition's language, some said, caused them to vote against their intention.

As early voting continues through the 29th, keep an eye on those turnout numbers, which all parties will likely be spinning to their advantage. And keep an eye on your computer screen tonight for the first actual gubernatorial debate of the general election, which won't feature Gov. Rick Perry but will include Bill White, Libertarian Kathie Glass and Green Party candidate Deb Shafto. The debate, hosted by the state's major newspapers, will not be be broadcast statewide but will streamed on some newspapers' websites, including statesman.com. (In Austin, the debate will be broadcast on KLRU.)

CULLED:

  • Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, a prolific Republican donor with no relation to the governor, has given $3.5 million to the Republican Governors Association, recalling a similar donation he made in 2006 that led to the lawsuit that recently awarded $2 million to former Democratic nominee Chris Bell.
  • Monday saw perhaps the two most curious endorsements yet for Gov. Rick Perry in the governor's race: one from hair care magnate and former Democratic nominee Farouk Shami's (Perry/Shami hair humor ensued, rest assured), and a non-endorsement endorsement from the Midland Reporter-Telegram, which had this to say about the governor: "The ideal scenario is Perry will announce the day after election night that this is his last term. And then mean it. Texas needs a change in the governor's mansion after 2014, but it needs to be someone who will have the best interests of Texas voters in mind. And not Rick Perry."
  • Bill White's latest ad hits Rick Perry over the governor's lavish temporary housing, which has Texas taxpayers footing a big bill, White says. "When Texas has a governor who's more interested in his own house — his own future —  than our schoolhouses, which are our future, then you know he's been governor too long," White says in the ad.

  • A viral anti-bullying campaign aimed at gay youths has found one of its spokesmen in, of all places, the Fort Worth City Council, whose Joel Burns delivered emotional testimony on the council floor that has now been viewed on YouTube nearly 2 million times.

"I think I would have shot him by now, if I was you." — Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson to Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples on Staples' opponent, Hank Gilbert, as reported on Trail Blazers

MUST-READ:

And to plug ourselves for just a second, don't miss the Tribune's big news, which you can read about in full here. The short and fast version: We're partnering with The New York Times. And we're excited.

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