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The Brief: Nov. 24, 2014

Multiple political vacancies create opportunities, and risks, for several politicians in the run-up to the legislative session.

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio (center) on the House floor on Feb. 8, 2011.

The Big Conversation

Between now and the first part of May when a mayoral election will take place in San Antonio featuring a showdown between two established politicos in the Legislature, a couple of special elections will happen to fill vacancies in the Texas Senate and any number of special elections would follow for House seats that might come open as a result of all of the above maneuvering.

How all this shuffling of the deck gets stage managed takes skill. Or, as the Tribune's Ross Ramsey writes, "Politicians are not like the rest of us, handing in their two weeks’ notice, dancing a little victory jig, packing up the family photos on the desk and moving on. Theirs is a speculative business that sometimes requires them to risk the jobs they have for the chance that another job is available."

Key to setting up how the following few months would proceed was whether state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, would resign her seat to run for mayor. State Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, had already signaled he would forego his term that begins in January to run full-time for mayor.

Van de Putte "is in the middle of her Senate term and holds an elected position despite her loss in the lieutenant governor’s race. She could simply do that all over again, running for mayor without resigning from the Senate, ensuring herself of a job no matter how the mayor’s race goes," Ramsey writes. "Instead, she is resigning upon the election and inauguration of her successor, meaning she will be in the Senate until her replacement emerges from a special election and takes the oath of office. That means the district’s voters will not go without a senator. But they could go without representation if the race for mayor keeps her in San Antonio while the Legislature is handling state business in Austin."

Trib Must-Reads

Revisiting the Shale Life Project, by Texas Weekly Staff

Still at Abbott's Side, Hodge Readies for a New Role, by Reeve Hamilton

Elsewhere

Top Texas Republicans fear surge of immigrants, Houston Chronicle

Ted Cruz: Obama ‘counterfeiting immigration papers’, Politico

Fikac: Straus foes may have more than one way to count a win, San Antonio Express-News

No-bid Texas Medicaid fraud contracts raising questions, Austin American-Statesman

Another try: Proposed texting while driving ban has West Texas backing, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

As game wardens patrol Texas border, traditional enforcement declines, Austin American-Statesman

Injured Heroes, Broken Promises: Warrior Transition Units face allegations of mistreating wounded soldiers, The Dallas Morning News

The Downside of the Boom, The New York Times

Quote to Note

“He reflects so well on Abbott. It’s like when you meet somebody’s spouse, and that spouse impacts your opinion of the other person. I think it’s the same thing with them.”

— State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, talking about the regard in Capitol circles for Gov.-elect Greg Abbott's right-hand man, Daniel Hodge

Today in TribTalk

The risks and rewards of Keystone XL, by Michael Webber

The case for Obama's immigration action, by Ana Hernandez

The case against Obama's immigration action, by Jason Villalba

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Reps. Myra Crownover, Tan Parker and Ron Simmons on Dec. 1 at Texas Woman's University in Denton

•    A Conversation With Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Dec. 4 at The Austin Club

•    The Texas Tribune Festival presents a one-day symposium previewing the 84th Legislature on Dec. 5 at the Austin Community College Highland Campus in Austin

•    A Panel Discussion on the Transformation of Medical Education in Texas, on Dec. 9 at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio.

•    Meet the New Guys: A Conversation With Incoming Members of the Texas Senate on Dec. 11 at The Austin Club

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