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The Brief: April 23, 2012

Refusing to back down, Ron Paul supporters asserted themselves at county conventions over the weekend.

Ron Paul supporters gather outside a building in downtown Austin on Feb. 24, 2012, expecting to see GOP presidential hopef...

The Big Conversation:

Refusing to back down, Ron Paul supporters asserted themselves at county conventions over the weekend.

Though the delegate selection process began in some counties earlier this month, most waited until Saturday to hold their Senate county conventions, where attendees selected delegates who will represent the parties at their state conventions this summer. (Republicans will hold their state convention on June 7-9 in Fort Worth; Democrats will hold theirs at the same time in Houston.)

Supporters of Paul — still in the presidential race despite Mitt Romney's almost-certain coronation as the Republican nominee — made some of the loudest noise over the weekend, saying they planned to follow Paul to the Republican National Convention in August and, at one large convention in North Texas, trying to change the way delegates are sent to the state convention, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Supporters of the rule change — which would have let members of each precinct select a delegate instead of the whole convention voting as a whole — said it would have let more new Republicans participate in the state convention. Opponents said it would have dampened the influence of longtime activists who have influenced the party over the years.

The rule change ultimately failed, but the push reflected the unwillingness of Paul's supporters to concede the nomination, which they say the congressman — despite having won only about 60 delegates to Romney's 700-plus — can win with the help of strong support in local and state conventions. Supporters may have also been encouraged by reports showing that Paul raised a healthy $10.4 million in the first quarter of 2012, leaving him with more than enough money to compete with Romney as the race heads into the summer.

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, an Ennis Republican who has endorsed Newt Gingrich, attended the convention, telling participants that "long shots happen."

"It's mathematically possible that Mr. Gingrich or Mr. Paul could" win the nomination, Barton said, according to the Star-Telegram. "It's not likely, but it is possible."

Culled:

  • As heated debate continues over the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a policy group that pushed expansive self-defense laws like Florida’s so-called Stand Your Ground measure, has announced that it will disband the task force that was responsible for the gun laws and was headed by a Texas lawmaker: state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano. As the Tribune's Minjae Park reported Friday, Madden said ALEC would no longer work on gun laws and that he will be reassigned to another committee.
  • The University of Texas at Austin will pay a Los Angeles-based law firm $1 million to defend its admissions standards before the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The university, as the Statesman reported last week, has opted for outside counsel instead of relying on Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose office has previously defended the admissions program. But Daniel Hodge, the state's first assistant attorney general, said the move doesn't mean the state was reluctant to defend UT. "President Powers and I met, and he requested that the university be allowed to bring in an expert Supreme Court litigator while at the same time recognizing that our solicitor general has done a phenomenal job in representing the university in this matter," Hodge said.
  • Texas added nearly 11,000 jobs in March, and the state's unemployment rate now stands at 7 percent, a 1-point drop from this time last year, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. “We've remained below the national unemployment rate for 63 straight months, and Texas continues to show private-sector job growth,” said Tom Pauken, chairman of the workforce commission. The national unemployment rate stands at 8.2 percent.

"After they went after me, we arrested 500 more just for spite." — Controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio in an audio recording of a Texas fundraiser he attended in 2009 in which he spoke of his refusal to cooperate in a racial profiling investigation

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