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The Brief: Nov. 6, 2012

Texans may have missed out on the presidential action, but with the big day finally here, they're about to find out how the state's down-ballot drama plays out.

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The Big Conversation:

Texans may have missed out on the presidential action, but with the big day finally here, they're about to find out how the state's down-ballot drama plays out.

As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney wrap up their swing-state blitzes and Republican Ted Cruz readies for a likely victory over Democrat Paul Sadler in the state's U.S. Senate race, the focus in Texas has turned to a slew of high-profile congressional, legislative and local races.

In the state's most competitive congressional race, incumbent U.S. Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco, R-San Antonio, has faced a strong challenge from state Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, in the sprawling Congressional District 23, which extends from San Antonio to El Paso. Both candidates have made wooing Hispanics a centerpiece of their campaign, and the outcome will likely offer lessons in attracting the coveted demographic.

The other congressional race to watch: CD-14, where former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Beaumont, and state Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, are vying to replace U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.

Several competitive state House races will also offer some excitement, but keep an eye on Fort Worth, where GOP state Rep. Mark Shelton's effort to unseat Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis has attracted more attention than any other legislative race. 

Today, as the Tribune's Aman Batheja writes, will also answer how many seats Republicans are able to hold in the state House, which they currently control by a 102-48 margin. Both sides agree that Republicans probably won't hold their supermajority but still may only lose a handful of seats.

Texans will also be keeping close watch on several high-profile local ballot intiatives and propositions across the state. In San Antonio, Mayor Julián Castro has staked his tenure on a proposal to raise the city's sales tax by one-eighth of a cent to fund a pre-K program for low-income children. Both sides say the fight will be close. And in Travis County, voters will decide whether to raise property taxes for a health care initiative that includes a proposed medical school.

Visit your county website to find your polling place. Polls are open statewide from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Culled:

  • Gov. Rick Perry visited Colorado on Monday to help Mitt Romney make a final push for votes. Perry visited Nevada and Pennsylvania over the weekend.
  • Though some counties reported record turnout, Texas' overall early voting numbers this year dipped below 2008 levels, falling from 42 percent in 2008 to 39 percent this year.

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