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The Brief: Sept. 3, 2013

Labor Day marked the unofficial kickoff of one of Texas' busiest election seasons in years.

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The Big Conversation

Labor Day marked the unofficial kickoff of one of Texas' busiest election seasons in years.

With the state's 2014 primaries now only six months away, the races on the Republican side appear set. More than 20 GOP candidates have declared for the top statewide races, and two crowded primary contests in particular — for lieutenant governor and attorney general — are expected to spark fierce battles.

The Republican side of the ballot stands in stark contrast to the Democratic side, which remains mostly empty as the party awaits word from state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, on her political plans.

Over the weekend, a trio of profiles underscored the pressures Davis faces as she weighs whether to run for governor or for re-election to her Senate seat.

As the Tribune's Jay Root writes: "If she does [run for governor], her biography will fall under a more powerful microscope, and what voters are likely to find is the story of an exceptionally ambitious woman who has experienced both poverty and wealth, isn’t nearly as partisan as her detractors might think and was shaped as much by her single electoral defeat as the unbroken string of victories ever since."

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Anna Tinsley, meanwhile, looked back at Davis' introduction to local politics, while the San Antonio Express-NewsPeggy Fikac talked with Davis' ex-husband Jeff Davis and Davis herself, who said Saturday that she was in the "final stages" of a decision.

"Before I look people in the eye and say, 'Will you spend time volunteering for me, will you dedicate resources to me,' I want to make sure that I'm asking them to do something that I can tell them, with conviction, I believe we can accomplish," she said.

Culled

•    Texas Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson to resign Oct. 1 (The Texas Lawbook): "Wallace Jefferson, the first African-American to be chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court and one of the most respected jurists in the nation, is resigning his position effective Oct. 1. In an interview Monday, Jefferson said that he informed Gov. Rick Perry of his decision last week and that an official announcement will be issued Tuesday. The governor is expected to appoint a new chief justice quickly. That appointee will have to run for election next fall."

•    Debate begins on question of a strike on Syria (The Associated Press): "The debate is on as congressional lawmakers begin considering President Barack Obama’s request that they authorize a military strike on Syria to punish the Assad regime for an alleged chemical attack on its own people. … Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he doesn’t believe Syria should go unpunished for the Aug. 21 attack near Damascus. 'But we need to understand what the whole scope of consequences is,' he said by telephone. 'What the president may perceive as limited ... won’t stop there.' 'The potential for escalation in this situation is so great that I think it’s essential that the president not be out there on his own,' said Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas. He added, however, that constituents have asked him why what happened in Syria should matter to them."

•    Rep. Michael Burgess: Case on Syria is 'thin' (Politico): "Rep. Michael Burgess said on Monday that he’s leaning against voting to authorize military intervention in Syria, calling the administration’s case 'thin' after receiving a classified briefing. 'Yes, I saw the classified documents yesterday. They were pretty thin. The case that can be made that actually Assad was the one who pulled the trigger is suspect,' Burgess said on MSNBC. 'I felt obligated to go back to Washington yesterday and see the information that was made available to the average member of Congress. … I will tell you it doesn’t make — it’s not a clear case that they’re making.'"

•    Ted Cruz enjoys clear edge among tea party activists at Americans for Prosperity summit (The Washington Post): "There was no question who was the favorite among the crop of possible 2016 Republican White House candidates who wooed conservative activists at a two-day conference here this weekend. Loud chants of 'Run, Ted, run!' filled a hotel ballroom packed with more than 1,500 people Saturday after Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) finished excoriating President Obama’s administration and challenging Republicans to use an upcoming budget vote to try to force through a measure to defund the Affordable Care Act."

•    Harris County DA Mike Anderson dies (Houston Chronicle): "Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson, who announced in May that he had cancer, died Saturday from the illness. … Anderson, 57, took office Jan. 1, following his election in November. His campaign enjoyed wide support from prosecutors in the office and area law enforcement."

•    US Rep. Gallego aide eyes Naomi Gonzalez's Texas House seat (El Paso Times): "Cesar Blanco, chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, is likely to challenge Naomi Gonzalez in next year's Democratic primary for her District 76 seat in the Texas House of Representatives. If Blanco, 37, gets into the race, it will make it one of the most hotly contested of this political season."

Quote to Note: "We have made great progress in becoming an independent nation, an 'island nation' if you will, and I think we want to continue down that path so that if the rest of the country falls apart, Texas can operate as a stand-alone entity with energy, food, water and roads as if we were a closed-loop system." — Barry Smitherman, the chairman of the Railroad Commission and a 2014 candidate for attorney general, in an interview with WorldNetDaily

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