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The Brief: Oct. 26, 2010

A week out from Election Day, things — not surprisingly — aren't quieting down.

Rick Perry, Bill White

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

A week out from Election Day, things — not surprisingly — aren't quieting down.

That's especially true in the governor's race, which on Monday saw some of its fiercest sniping yet in response to an ad released by Gov. Rick Perry suggesting that challenger Bill White should be partly blamed for the murder of a Houston police officer by an illegal immigrant in 2006, when White was still serving as mayor of Houston.

The ad features the slain officer's wife, Sgt. Joslyn Johnson, also a Houston police officer, denouncing White for supporting "sanctuary city policies that made it difficult for officers to safely do their jobs.” Johnson told the Austin American-Statesman that the issue, and her support for Perry, "goes above my beliefs as a Democrat."

White struck back. "He's exploiting shamelessly the grief of a widow," he said of Perry on Monday. "He's making false, negative campaign ads to try to hide his own record." Perry's campaign said White was the one hiding his record. "This is a dismal attempt to deflect from his policy as mayor that put law enforcement in harm’s way," said Perry spokesman Mark Miner, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The emotional flare-up comes just as a Texas Tribune/University of Texas poll reveals that Texans' worries are currently centering mostly on immigration and border security, either of which topped the list of 40 percent of respondents. By comparison, only 26 percent listed the economy as their No. 1 concern for the state.

And in other gubernatorial race news, Monday also saw the release of the latest campaign finance information, which showed the governor outraising his opponent by about $5 million in the last month, a figure that includes a $3 million infusion from the Republican Governors Association. White had already sunk millions of dollars in early ad buys for TV, partly explaining Perry's edge in spending this round, but the governor appears poised to outspend — and, if trends keep up, outraise — White until the big day on Nov. 2.

CULLED:

  • Usually media-shy Sharon Keller, the Court of Criminal Appeals judge who famously denied a last-minute death row appeal in 2007, spoke on camera with the Trib's Morgan Smith about the case for which she's earned the nickname Sharon "Killer" Keller.
  • Jury selection starts today in the corruption trial of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
  • National Republicans have pulled a round of last-minute ads intended to help Bill Flores unseat Democrat Chet Edwards in Congressional District 17. Democrats say this means Republicans have given up; Republicans say they're simply pulling out of a race that they've got in the bag.

"The idea that I don't care about defendants or indigent defense is ridiculous, but people think I don't." — Judge Sharon Keller in her interview with the Trib

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