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The Brief: Jan. 4, 2011

As the speaker's race wraps up, the drama's still thick.

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As the speaker's race wraps up, the drama's still thick.

With the Legislature set to convene just one week from today, the race — if it could ever be called that — for the top post in the Texas House stands as it did before the holidays, with incumbent Joe Straus, a moderate Republican, claming the support of more than enough members for re-election and two conservative challengers nipping at his heels.

But the political plays haven't stopped. On Monday, the Texas Eagle Forum, a social conservative group, called on House members to vote against Straus, warning them that their vote would account for 50 percent of the group's rating of them. "Please remember who elected you and why you were elected," an e-mail said.

State Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, a key Straus supporter, lashed out at the Eagle Forum, calling it irrelevant. And Texas Monthly's Paul Burka had this to say of the group: "It just shows how crazy the far right is. … It’s going to look very strange when Republican lawmakers come out of the best session ever for Republicans with voting records below 50%."

The race also got a little bit more interesting Monday with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton's endorsement for Ken Paxton, one of the two conservatives challenging Straus, as The Dallas Morning News reported. Bolton, citing concerns over redistricting and border security, said in a letter that "if action is not taken soon, citizens all across our nation will face the same dangers already threatening Texans." 

Bolton joins a list of national figures — including Dick Armey, a former U.S. House majority leader, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — who have endorsed Paxton.


  • In the other Texas environmental issue attracting national attention today, a proposed drilling site near Cowboys Stadium in Arlington has attracted a flood of petitions hoping to stop the project. The Arlington City Council will vote tonight whether to approve driling permits for Chesapeake Energy, the company looking to drill near the stadium, which is set to host the Super Bowl on Feb. 6.

"I think that any Republican you see pushing tax increases is probably a Republican who's signaling that they are not going to be seeking re-election."Michael Quinn Sullivan, president of the conservative nonprofit Empower Texans, on possible Republican support for tax increases


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