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The Brief: Oct. 22, 2012

Early voting in Texas begins today, and campaigns across the state don't want you to forget it.

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The Big Conversation:

Early voting in Texas begins today, and campaigns across the state don't want you to forget it.

Starting this morning, registered voters can cast ballots at any early-voting polling place in their county of residence. (Check your county's website for a full list of polling places.)

According to The Associated Press, 13.64 million voters have registered in Texas — a record high. And though Texas remains effectively uncontested in the presidential race, candidates in competitive races across the state want as many of those registered voters as possible to show up at the polls early.

In the state's most heated congressional race, for instance, President Bill Clinton will stump for Democrat Pete Gallego on Thursday in San Antonio, the Tribune's Jay Root reports, and tickets to the event will be distributed to early voters.

Groups rallying for and against various high-profile ballot proposals across the state — like San Antonio's Pre-K 4 SA initiative — have also begun mobilizing.

The early voting period runs through Friday, Nov. 2. You must present either your voter registration card or some other form of identification (driver's license, passport, etc.) to vote.

Today also marks another important beginning: the start of oral arguments in a major lawsuit challenging the state's school finance system. The trial, which will be heard by District Judge John Dietz in Austin and involves about two-thirds of the state's 1,000-plus school districts, is expected to last until January. Find coverage of the case's long and eventful history here.

Culled:

•     Gov. Rick Perry stumped for Mitt Romney in Colorado and Nevada over the weekend. Addressing a crowd of more than 100 people at a Romney campaign office in Reno, Perry said, "There is not a greater way for a man and a woman to take care of their family than to have a job, and Mitt Romney understands that." Perry, who will continue campaigning for Romney today in rural Nevada, also stressed the importance of early voting and said President Barack Obama's tax policies had hurt the state's mining industry. "In 2008 I recall President Obama saying 'You all in Nevada don’t worry about it, I’m not going to tax your mining industry,'" Perry said. "Three and a half years later, I would suggest to you he hasn’t lived up to his word. He hasn’t lived up to his word in a host of areas, the least of which is in this state."

•     In a sharp departure from their first face-off, U.S. Senate candidates Ted Cruz and Paul Sadler played nice Friday evening at their second (and likely final) debate before the November election. Unlike the first forum — a tense, uncomfortable affair rife with personal attacks — the two candidates this time focused mostly on policy issues, like the economy, health care and immigration. "I think some people wanted to see fireworks go off and instead they got a debate," Sadler told reporters after the debate, which was hosted by Dallas' KERA.

•     Editorial boards across the state continue to weigh in with their endorsements for November. A sampling: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has endorsed Paul Sadler in the U.S. Senate race and Mitt Romney for president. The Houston Chronicle also endorsed Romney, while the San Antonio Express-News went for President Obama.

"Get that early voting done. You never know when the good Lord is going to call you home." — Rick Perry while stumping for Mitt Romney in Nevada on Sunday

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