The Big Conversation:
A special session looms large, but attention shifted briefly Tuesday to another familiar topic: Rick Perry for president.
The Perry-for-president rumor mill — that fount from which a million news stories, and a million Perry denials, have flowed — sprang back into action yesterday with news that the governor's associates may have quietly begun re-examining his national prospects.
RealClearPolitics reported that "a Texas pol who is close to Perry" has been telling strategists that the governor is waiting to be called on to run and that he could make a move by late summer. According to RCP, two other Perry associates have begun looking at Iowa, the first primary voting state.
Perry, the thinking goes, may see an opening in light of the recent announcements from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour that they wouldn't run. Both would have likely played well in the South, as well as in Iowa and other early primary states like South Carolina.
Adding a little fuel to that fire, Nate Silver, the stats man at The New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog, tweeted on Tuesday, "Is it hyperbolic to suggest that if Rick Perry ran for the GOP nomination he might be the favorite? He'd crush in the South."
The governor has long denied any presidential ambitions and at this point would be considered a late entrant, even in a race that's been slow to form. Dave Carney, who has served as Perry's chief consultant but now works on the campaign of former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, again shot down the speculation. "The Governor has not called anyone about running for POTUS. I'd like to know of one person who says they received such a call," he told RCP.
Mark McKinnon, the Republican strategist who advised George W. Bush, had this to say: "I'm not aware of Perry making calls, although it wouldn't surprise me," he said.
Just a little respite for your session-weary brain. (For more of that, see below.)
- An extra billion dollars, which the comptroller announced Tuesday she had added to state revenue estimates, won't likely be enough to avert a special session. House and Senate leaders said yesterday that if the House doesn't pass legislation that will add $2.6 billion to the state budget through a combination of increased fees and accounting maneuvers — set to hit the House floor today — summer overtime may be inevitable.
- With lawmakers set to finally take up congressional redistricting Thursday, Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports that the time crunch legislators face could bode well for Democrats, whom courts may treat more kindly than the Republican-controlled Legislature. Republicans, though, according to the San Antonio Express-News, still have longtime Austin Democrat Lloyd Doggett in their sights, and they may have a plan to finally cause him some real trouble.
- In legislative redistricting news, meanwhile, the state Senate on Tuesday approved a map that could give Republicans one more member in the upper chamber, boosting their majority from 19 to 20 at the expense of Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, whose district under the new map would be difficult for a Democrat to win. Most Democrats hopped on board in the final vote: Stalling and leaving unresolved legislative maps would require the intervention of a five-member Republican panel, which could spell even more trouble for Democrats.
- Religious leaders denounce gay-Jesus play, San Antonio Express-News
- Out of Beach?, Texas Monthly
- Overshadowed by Other Cuts, Med Schools Face Drastic Reductions, The Texas Tribune