The Big Conversation:
Gov. Rick Perry's first test as a presidential candidate may come in the form of a write-in campaign.
In a close vote, the Republican Party of Iowa decided Saturday to exclude Perry, as well as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, from the Ames Straw Poll ballot because they hadn't declared their candidacies, the Des Moines Register reported over the weekend.
But for Perry, who would benefit from an early show of force after a late entry into the race, hope's not lost: Write-in candidates — for the first time — will be counted.
The poll, a first test of strength for Republican candidates in the early-voting state, has been known to boost the prospects of lesser-known candidates, like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who placed second in the 2007 straw poll and went on to win the Iowa caucus in 2008 over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has pulled back his operations in the state this time.
But the decision didn't deter Perry's Iowa supporters. On Saturday, members of Americans for Rick Perry, a draft-Perry group working independently of the governor, solicited support at a Second Amendment rally in Searsboro. “If there’s Iowans gathered some place and they’re Republicans, we’re talking about Rick Perry,” group director Craig Schoenfeld told The New York Times.
Meanwhile, the Tribune's Jay Root reported Friday that state officials claim they can’t reveal how much money taxpayers are spending on security for Perry as he travels the nation. The Department of Public Safety also said that financial records on security costs for the years before 2008 have been "purged."
“It’s one thing to get details that DPS thinks might undermine the security the governor,” said Bill Aleshire, an open records expert. “It’s quite another to tell the taxpayers of Texas that they can’t even find out how much money has been spent on this.”
- Gov. Rick Perry, attending a Republican governors event in Colorado, said Friday that, from a states' rights standpoint, he's fine with New York's recent decision to legalize gay marriage, The Associated Press reported. Perry's remark didn't go unnoticed, drawing a small rebuke from presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, on Twitter. “So Gov Perry," Santorum wrote, "if a state wanted to allow polygamy or if they chose to deny heterosexuals the right to marry, would that be OK too?”
- No formidable opponent has yet to emerge to challenge her, but two issues — red-light cameras, which were voted down but haven't gone away, and a drainage fee that resulted in higher bills for some — could plague Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who's up for re-election in November. The Houston Chronicle has a look.
- As Texas suffers through the third-worst drought in the state's history, interest in the use of treated sewage is on the rise, with cities sending a growing amount of the so-called "reclaimed water" to golf courses and parks. And as the Trib's Kate Galbraith reports, it'll soon end up in some Texans' drinking water.
“Any time people are telling you that you're the salvation of the country ... it's the high-water mark." — Political consultant Bill Miller, to the San Antonio Express-News, on calls for Gov. Rick Perry to run
- Austin mayor pushing to ban plastic bags at Austin stores, Austin American-Statesman
- Historically black areas in Houston are adapting to Latino growth, Houston Chronicle
- For House Freshman, the First Time Was No Charm, The Texas Tribune