The Brief: Top Texas News for Aug. 17, 2012

Governor Gary Johnson, Libertarian Candidate for President
Governor Gary Johnson, Libertarian Candidate for President

The Big Conversation:

Based on one presidential candidate's campaign schedule, you might think Texas was up for grabs in November.

Of course, Texans won't likely figure into any electoral strategy this fall, but that hasn't stopped Gary Johnson from crossing the state this week in an effort to drum up support for his long-shot bid as the presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party.

A former two-term governor of New Mexico, Johnson last year ran for the Republican nomination before dropping his bid in December and declaring his candidacy for the Libertarian nomination, which he won in May.

Johnson has so far made appearances in West Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth area this week to tout his record and libertarian views and to raise money. He'll visit Austin today and Houston and San Antonio over the weekend.

"The majority of Americans are fiscally responsible and socially accepting," Johnson said on Thursday at a fundraiser in Dallas, according to the Morning News. "I’m in that category."

As he told the San Antonio Express-News this week: "I'm the only candidate that doesn't want to bomb Iran, the only candidate that wants to get out of Afghanistan tomorrow and bring the troops home. I'm the only candidate advocating marriage equality as a constitutionally guaranteed right. I want to end the drug wars. ... I'd like to repeal the Patriot Act. I'm the only candidate that is advocating a balanced budget now And I'm the only candidate promising to advocate throwing out the entire federal tax system."

Given his relatively low profile and fundraising disadvantage, Johnson said this week that he's first hoping to rally enough support to earn him a spot at a national debate alongside Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Winning at least 5 percent of the national vote would also qualify the Libertarian Party for public financing in 2016, which would "potentially make the Libertarian Party competitive in the next cycle in a really big way," Johnson told the Morning News.

As for his thoughts on whether he'll siphon votes from Romney in swing states, potentially helping to re-elect Obama? "Let me be the spoiler," he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. But, he added, "Do I agree with [Obama] on dollars-and-cents issues?" Absolutely not. But we're closer on civil liberties. Actually, I think I take votes away from both Romney and Obama."

Culled:

  • Dallas County on Thursday night took its most drastic step yet toward combating a West Nile virus epidemic, launching airplanes to spray insecticide over neighborhoods in Dallas, Garland, Mesquite and Richardson. The outbreak — the worst in the nation — has killed 10 people and infected more than 200 others this summer. Spraying will continue for the next few days.
  • State Rep. Pete Gallego, the Democrat running against incumbent Republican Francisco "Quico" Canseco in Congressional District 23, has replaced his campaign staff for the fourth time, the San Antonio Express-News reports. Anthony Gutierrez will replace Jeff Rotkoff as campaign manager, and Rebecca Acuña, the former spokeswoman for the Texas Democratic Party, will serve as communications director. The Canseco campaign seized on the reorganization. "It makes you wonder — if you can't even run a campaign, how can you represent a district as large and complex as the 23rd District of Texas?" said Scott Yeldell, Canseco's campaign manager.
  • For public universities in Texas trying to distinguish themselves — and, in some cases, win the title as the state's next top research institution — special collections, like the archives at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, can help. And as the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton writes, such collections also offer Texans an entry to historical and cultural artifacts.

"When Ron Paul's campaign comes to an end, who is going to be the best voice for liberty and freedom? ... It's going to be me." — Gary Johnson at a campaign event in Dallas on Wednesday

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