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The Brief: Oct. 20, 2010

Perhaps taking a cue from this week's farce in New York, the Texas governor's debate on Tuesday had its moments.

Republican Rick Perry and Democrat Bill White

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Perhaps taking a cue from this week's farce in New York, the Texas governor's debate on Tuesday — even without Gov. Rick Perry — had its moments.

For that, thank Libertarian Kathie Glass, who came armed with a small arsenal of one-liners that punctuated an otherwise sedate exchange between her, Democrat Bill White and Green Party candidate Deb Shafto. Perry declined to attend the event, which was hosted by the state's major newspapers and was broadcast from Austin's KLRU studios.

When asked to offer up something nice about the governor, whom they otherwise spent the night trashing, Glass answered, "I hear he's a pretty good shot." On Perry's allegedly spare work official work schedule, she said, "If he were full time, I don't know what shape the state would be in." And on Perry and White's constant stream of attacks on each other: "I think they're both right."

But much of the conversation centered on substance, with Glass saying she'd eliminate the property tax, secure the Texas border and halve the state's budget. Shafto, a retired school teacher from Houston, said she'd start public works projects to revitalize the state's economy and noted her support for a state income tax. "It is high time that the people who gain the most from this society start paying the most," Shafto said.

White, who hammered on familiar campaign themes, used the opportunity to air his latest accusations against Perry, whom he accused Tuesday of using the Teacher Retirement System to aid campaign donors — an allegation that the system has denied.

But as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy notes, the debate's limited viewership — it wasn't aired in every market — might work out better for White, who Kennedy says saw his campaign encapsulated in an exchange with one of the moderators, responding with one of the night's other choice lines to White's long-winded insistence that he couldn't rate the Obama administration on a 1-to-10 scale: "Mayor White, this is a lightning round."

CULLED:

  • Stephen Broden, the Republican opponent of U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, the longtime Democratic incumbent caught up in scholarship flap, has taken to the airwaves in Dallas against Johnson with, as one Broden consultant tells The Dallas Morning News, "a pretty substantial buy."
  • Apparently a fan of the big finish, Williamson County Democratic Party Chairman Gregory Windham resigned in a huff Tuesday, calling his local party beholden to a "liberal national agenda" and endorsing Republican Larry Gonzales over state Rep. Diana Maldonando, D-Round Rock, in the competitive House District 52 race. Maldonado's response to Windham's last act: "Mr. Windham's colorful criminal and civil history coupled with his erratic behavior caused us to ask for his resignation over six months ago. Since then, his behavior has become increasingly destructive and he was even publicly rebuked by the State Chairman. I hope he is able to find the help he needs."
  • In a rare clash of courtroom standoffs and Texas high school football, a federal court is set today to hear a dispute over refereeing that, as the Tribune's Julian Aguilar reports, could put the rest of the playoff season at stake.

MUST-READ:

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