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Straus: 61 and Counting...

More Texas Republicans get leadership positions in Congress, Wendy Davis is ready for Hillary and a gag order is issued in state Rep. Ron Reynolds' upcoming "ambulance chasing" trial.

House Speaker Joe Straus is shown on Sept. 20, 2014, during an interview at The Texas Tribune Festival.

The list of GOP lawmakers supporting Joe Straus' re-election as Speaker now stands at 61 with the release of another 19 names on Thursday.

The most recent batch of names pushed the numbers in the Straus column well past half of the members of the GOP House caucus. One dominated by Straus-appointed committee chairs and other key Straus lieutenants, was distributed by Appropriations subcommittee Chairman John Zerwas. The second list, distributed by state Rep. Dan Huberty, rounded up Houston-area state representatives, including Debbie Riddle and the newly elected Gilbert Peña. On Wednesday, a group of seven West Texas GOP state representatives pledged their support to Straus.

The result of this steady drumbeat of releases augmenting the Straus column, which has now put him past the 50 percent mark among the GOP House caucus, has been to foment a perception that the Speaker's race is over before it has a chance to begin. It is also a direct answer to challenger Scott Turner's vow to take the Speaker's race to the floor for a vote on Jan. 13, the first day of session.

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Count Wendy Davis as ready for Hillary.

The former Democratic nominee for governor on Thursday sent out a letter from her campaign soliciting names to support the Ready for Hillary PAC, the super PAC established to prepare for Hillary Clinton's expected run for the White House.

One of the storylines in this year's contest for governor was the role of Battleground Texas in preparing the ground for a presidential run by Clinton in 2016. Clinton has been coy about making an official pronouncement about her candidacy but Davis' letter makes it clear about her aims to be a key surrogate for Clinton in Texas.

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Texas' GOP delegation in the U.S. House will add two more chairmanships in the upcoming Congress, for a total of six.

Per the Houston Chronicle's Kevin Diaz, a pair of West Texans — Mike Conaway of Midland and Mac Thornberry of Clarendon — are being tapped to take over as chairs of Agriculture and Armed Services, respectively.

That is in addition to Jeb Hensarling (Financial Services), Michael McCaul (Homeland Security), Lamar Smith (Science, Space and Technology) and Pete Sessions (Rules) who retain their chairmanships. In addition, Diaz notes that Bill Flores of Bryan has landed the chairmanship of the Republican Study Committee.

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A gag order has been issued in advance of state Rep. Ron Reynolds' new trial on allegations that he solicited accident victims for business. The practice, which goes by the legal term barratry, is illegal.

A mistrial was declared last week after a juror had what was described as an "outside influence that affected her saying 'guilty.'" Reynolds was found guilty of six misdemeanor counts of solicitation of professional employment at the conclusion of that trial.

Reynolds' new trial is scheduled for Jan. 5, a week before the next session of the Legislature begins.

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