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The Brief: May 3, 2012

Tonight, the Democrats vying for Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat may finally steal a sliver of the spotlight.

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The Big Conversation:

Tonight, the Democrats vying for Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat may finally steal a sliver of the spotlight.

Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard, two of the four Democrats running for the seat, will join the race's four major Republican contenders at a forum in Houston starting at 7 p.m.

Though the Republicans in the race have been fighting for months and raising millions of dollars, Democrats — without a marquee candidate — have struggled mightily to attract money and attention. The party hasn't won statewide office since 1994, and the candidates so far have struggled to meet even low expectations: Sadler, who so far has led the Democrats in fundraising, reported collecting just $72,800 in the year's first quarter — an amount he called "absolutely shocking."

As the Tribune's Aman Batheja notes, both Sadler, a former state representative from Henderson, and Hubbard, a 31-year-old who recently left a sales and billing job, have made fighting the influence of Super PACs a major component of their campaigns. But they disagree over who is the more qualified candidate.

"[The U.S. Senate is] not a place to go and all of a sudden figure out how to govern," Sadler said. "Nor is it a place where the people of Texas should gamble with what they’re getting."

Hubbard's take: "There’s a lot of that kind of experience in Washington right now and it’s not helping us. I think an understanding of how legislation affects everyday people is just as important, if not more important, than legislative experience."

The two other Democrats in the race, educator Grady Yarbrough and disaster assistance worker Addie Allen, were not invited to tonight's event. Yarbrough noted that the two Democrats invited to the event are white and that he and Allen are black. "I can’t say for sure that discrimination is a byproduct of that, but certainly, just from the surface, one would get that impression," he said.

The event will air on public radio and TV stations across the state and will stream live on the Tribune home page starting at 7 p.m.


  • The day after two Dallas men were freed from prison, exonerated by DNA testing, oral arguments wrapped in the case involving death row inmate Hank Skinner's decade-old request for biological analysis of crime scene evidence. As the Tribune's Brandi Grissom reports, it could take the court weeks, or even months, to issue a decision in the high-profile case.
  • During the 2011 legislative session, the Tribune compiled a salary database of the state’s highest-paid school administrators: superintendents. After a year and a $5.4 billion reduction in state funding to public education, the database has been updated. Some highlights: The average salary for the 10 highest-paid school chiefs is down from $312,993 to $297,039 — just over $15,000 from last year. And Carrol Thomas of Beaumont ISD still tops the list at $347,834.

“America may not forgive you for it. But God will.” — Gov. Rick Perry, at a National Day of Prayer breakfast, on his infamous "oops moment"


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