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The Brief: July 22, 2011

Two new polls show Rick Perry — who's done little so far but send rumor mills churning — already within striking distance of Mitt Romney.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry departs a private plane at the San Antonio International Airport during a campaign stop on November 1,…

The Big Conversation:

Two new polls show Rick Perry — who's done little so far but send rumor mills churning — already within striking distance of Mitt Romney.

He's not in the race for president yet and, if you'll recall, says he hasn't even decided if he's running. But a Fox News poll shows Perry just 3 points behind Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and presumed GOP front-runner, 17 to 14 percent.

That's a 6-point drop for Romney since last month. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, in third with 10 percent, is up 6 points from last month. Perry appears to draw voters evenly from Romney, now viewed as the establishment pick, and Bachmann, a favorite among Tea Party activists and social conservatives.

A CNN/ORC International poll puts the race even closer, with Perry, at 14 percent, just 2 points behind Romney, at 16 percent. Bachmann's not far behind, with 12 percent.

"In May, 50 percent of Republicans said that they did not want Perry to throw his hat in the ring," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Now, 50 percent say they would welcome a bid by Perry."

CNN breaks down the data even further, showing that Perry performs best with Republican men (20 percent) and Tea Party supporters (22 percent).

Both polls also included possible candidates Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, and Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor. Both trail Bachmann in the Fox News poll, with 9 percent each, but outpace her by 1 point in the CNN poll, with 13 percent.

Both polls, it should also be noted, have relatively high margins of error: ± 5.5 points for the Fox poll and 4.5 points for CNN. That technically means Perry's statistically tied with Romney and several other candidates in both polls. Either way, he's clearly in the mix.

Culled:

  • The lack of juicy news out of Thursday's State Board of Education meeting may have been the biggest news of all. "Somebody might want their ticket refunded, because there wasn't a fight," said board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont, at the end of the meeting, during which the board — notorious in recent years for the public battles it has waged over science curriculum — tentatively approved a list of publishers for the supplemental materials that will be used to update textbooks to the statewide science standards it approved in 2009. As the Tribune's Morgan Smith reports, the board will take a final vote today.
  • Michael Quinn Sullivan and several other conservative activists in Austin had their Twitter accounts restored Thursday after they were abruptly suspended Monday. The Trib's Reeve Hamilton has the full tale, which appears to have stemmed from an episode involving Twitter's terms of service and NPR.
  • The Trib's Emily Ramshaw has a look at Senfronia Thompson, the revered — and sometimes feared — state representative who for nearly four decades has served in the House as a champion of the defenseless but who has won the support of a number of unlikely industries.

"For all his new found commitment to hyper-conservatism, he’ll get to explain why he supported pro-abortion, pro-same sex marriage Rudy Guiliani last time."Mike Huckabee, on Gov. Rick Perry, in an email to supporters

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