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The Brief: Nov. 8, 2010

With the election dust now settled, it's the thought on everyone's mind: What's it all mean?

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

With the election dust now settled, it's the thought on everyone's mind: What's it all mean?

Tuesday saw a 77-73 advantage for Republicans in the Texas House turn into a stunning 99-51 advantage — a boon for the GOP, to say the least.

But as the Tribune's Ross Ramsey writes today, the Republicans' majority — just short of two-thirds, which would allow the party to, among other things, amend the state Constitution and tap into the state's reserve funds — presents pitfalls for the GOP: It'll receive all the blame for controversial moves, with the real risk lying in budget cuts.

And already, one unprecedented proposal is turning heads: conservative Republicans' plans to drop Medicaid. As the Trib's Emily Ramshaw reported over the weekend, "Far-right conservatives are offering that possibility in post-victory news conferences. Moderate Republicans are studying it behind closed doors. And the party’s advisers on health care policy say it's being discussed more seriously than ever, though they admit it may be as much a huge in-your-face to Washington as anything else."

The story has attracted no shortage of attention, hinting at the rancor on the horizon for lawmakers involved in the debate, if it ever comes to light.

And while Tuesday may have seen the end of political fighting season, it brought with it new possibilities for leadership in the Texas House, with a speaker's race in the making.

On Wednesday, incumbent Joe Straus, R-San Antonio — whom many conservative Republicans have long viewed as too cozy with Democrats — announced that he had more than enough votes already pledged to him to get re-elected. And on Friday, he issued a letter of support from conservative leaders not long after more than 40 other conservative groups signed a letter calling for his removal.

CULLED:

  • Today's the first day for Texas legislators to pre-file bills for the 2011 legislative session. Chief Clerk Robert Haney said he expects a line at 8 a.m.
  • The counting of provisional ballots, now under way in District 48, could swing the tight race between Democratic state Rep. Donna Howard and Republican Dan Neil, in which Howard led by just 15 votes after Election Night. Updated unofficial results will be posted after 5 p.m. today.
  • And as if you needed a reminder: Rick Perry. The Daily Show. Comedy Central. Tonight. 10 p.m.

"No Senate Republican is going to be disappointed with what [U.S. Sen. John] Cornyn did. They know he was right to try to find electable conservatives to win a Senate majority." — Political scientist Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University on Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee

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