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The Brief: Nov. 11, 2010

A sudden spat was all it took to turn the speaker's race into a full-fledged fight.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

A sudden spat was all it took to turn the speaker's race into a full-fledged fight.

Things got testy Wednesday after state Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, withdrew his support for incumbent Joe Straus, the moderate Republican who's seeking re-election to the House's top post. In withdrawing his support, Hughes cited claims he'd heard that Straus — who faces a challenger in the more-conservative state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa — would redraw districts during the next legislative session to eliminate legislators not on his list of supporters.

The Tribune's Elise Hu followed the rest of the day's fast and furious action here and here, but to make a long story short:

Straus soundly rejected Hughes' claims and in a statement called on him to name the source of the redistricting allegation. Chisum, Straus' presumptive opponent, fired back with a statement of his own, calling on Straus to release his pledged supporters in the House (which Straus has most recently touted as numbering 131): "The Speaker had them agree to sign 'pledge cards' to vote to reelect him as Speaker. That exchange has the unfortunate effect of creating the perception — just a perception, mind you — that leaves members trading votes for campaign donations."

Straus then responded with the sharpest words of the day. "Have you no shame?" his statement read. "At a time when we should be celebrating the historic Republican gains of the recent election, and focusing on the business of the state, you have instead engaged in a campaign of distortions and attacks that have subjected the membership to a constant strain of negativity solely to return power to a small faction that lost it in January, 2009."

Follow all that?

To add to the drama, this morning comes the news that state Rep. Ken Paxton is throwing his hat into the ring, too. The McKinney Republican looks poised to attract some Tea Party support.

As Paul Burka of Texas Monthly writes today, for Straus now, "this is war."

CULLED:

  • U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, still not conceding his District 27 race, must resubmit his request for a recount after his first failed to comply with the state Election Code.
  • The latest state sales tax numbers from the comptroller are positive, but the news is still far from good.

"The biggest advance of the abortion industry in America has been the passage of Obamacare."Sarah Palin, speaking Wednesday in Dallas at an event sponsored by an anti-abortion faith-based group. Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott also made appearances.

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