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The Brief: July 2, 2012

Repercussions from Mexico's presidential election Sunday may soon begin to ripple north.

Voters line up to cast ballots in Mexico's presidential election Sunday at a voting sight on Popocatepetl street in Mexico...

The Big Conversation:

Repercussions from Mexico's presidential election Sunday may soon begin to ripple north.

By early Monday morning, the country appeared to have elected Enrique Peña Nieto, a member of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), as its next president, according to early returns. Peña Nieto, a charismatic former governor of Mexico State, claimed victory over Josefina Vázquez Mota of the ruling National Action Party (PAN) and Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the country's leftist alliance. López Obardor, though, has yet to concede.

Peña Nieto's victory will swing power back to the PRI, which was toppled by the PAN in 2000 after about 70 years of authoritarian rule. Economic woes and deep concerns over the drug-related cartel violence that has claimed 55,000 lives since 2006 appeared to have motivated voters.

So what's it all got to do with Texas? As the Tribune's Julián Aguilar reports, though Peña Nieto has promised to work to reduce the violence plaguing the country, some Texas lawmakers have expressed over the return of the PRI, which has been tied to corruption and collusion with drug cartels.

"In the backdrop of all this is the PRI itself and their history," said U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin. "Traditionally, the PRI has been the party that has played nice with the cartels."

But some analysts have downplayed such concerns."Even if the old PRI returns, it’s not the old Mexico," Tony Garza, a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, told The Dallas Morning News.

Either way, the atmosphere surrounding the elections represented a step forward for much of the nation. Though a car bomb exploded in Nuevo Laredo on Friday and reports of violent voter intimidation came in from some parts of the country, turnout was about 62 percent, or 49 million votes, which officials called the highest in the country’s history.

Culled:

  • Thursday's momentous U.S. Supreme Court ruling on federal health care reform continues to reverberate in Texas, where the discussion has turned to what the ruling means for the state's millions of uninsured residents, and whether the state plans to accept billions of dollars to expand its Medicaid rolls. That decision, the Houston Chronicle notes, may fall to Texas legislators in 2013. "I'm not holding my breath," state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio. "It almost seems to me the Republican leaders are still in denial about what happened at the Supreme Court." Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Friday came out against the expansion, and Gov. Rick Perry appears unlikely to push lawmakers to accept the money. The governor "has no interest in fast tracking any portion of this bankrupting and overreaching legislation," said Josh Havens, a deputy press secretary for Perry, according to the Chronicle.
  • U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz has incurred the ire of some state lawmakers upset with his attacks on Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's legislative record, the San Antonio Express-News reports. "The way he's approached this, he's cast aspersions on all of us who are Republicans in the Legislature. I feel as if he's attacked my record," said state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, a Dewhurst supporter.
  • The U.S. Senate race isn't the only statewide runoff race inciting some heated campaign back-and-forth. In the Republican runoff for a spot on the state's Railroad Commission, Warren Chisum has called on opponent Christi Craddick to release a resume laying out her work experience that qualifies her for the job, as The Dallas Morning News reports. Craddick's campaign has rejected the demand, instead pointing to a biography on her website. "Part of the reason he’s going after her on experience is because he’s older, and so of course he has much more experience than her," said Craddick consultant Corbin Casteel. Chisum campaign manager John McCord shot back: "Prove it. Christi continues to dodge the question and attempt to use rhetoric to fill the void of her experience."

"Unfortunately, that's part of campaigning these days. You just start throwing stuff around like that. I don't think his arguments hold water." — State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, to the San Antonio Express-News on Ted Cruz

Must-Read:

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