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At the GOP Convention, a Lawmaker's Gospel Band Reunion

Also, the General Land Office makes available for public viewing notes from Ken Towery's reporting on the 1950s-era fraud scandal at the Veterans Land Program.

State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, debates an amendment to HB1 on April 1, 2011.

We don’t often write about musical reunions in this space but here goes… former state Rep. and current candidate for Railroad Commission Wayne Christian is getting the band back together.

Christian was the lead singer for the gospel/country group Mercy River Boys, whose music was regarded well enough to earn a Grammy nomination in 1979 and to win induction last year into the Texas Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

Christian announced late last week that the Mercy River Boys reunion show will take place in Dallas this Friday as Republicans gather for their state convention.

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Voters living in areas of the state affected by last month’s devastating flooding might be relieved of requirements to show photo ID to vote in this month’s party primary runoff elections.

The Secretary of State noted in a press release last Friday that voters who can’t get at their photo ID as a result of a government-declared natural disaster can cast a provisional ballot.

They would then have six days either to find and bring in a photo ID or sign an affidavit that the disaster made it impossible for them to find their ID.

The provision applies in 16 counties declared disaster areas by Gov. Greg Abbott last month.

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In the SD-24 Republican runoff contest, Dawn Buckingham began airing a new radio ad late last week in which she paints her opponent, Abilene state Rep. Susan King, as “liberal Susan King, Obama’s Texas ally.”

The two are locked in a heated contest to succeed Horseshoe Bay Republican Troy Fraser to represent the sprawling Senate district that runs from Abilene in the west to Temple in the east to the outskirts of Austin and Kerrville along the district’s southern reaches.

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HD-128 incumbent Wayne Smith, who is in a tough re-election battle against challenger Briscoe Cain, released a statement spelling out “his strong opposition to the recent national push to allow transgender individuals to access restrooms of their choosing.”

The Baytown Republican added that state lawmakers “are gearing up for an in-depth debate on this issue” next year.

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Gov. Greg Abbott starts a book tour next Wednesday in Austin to promote his memoir/political manifesto, “Broken But Unbowed.”

The tour will continue almost daily afterward until May 27. When all is said and done, Abbott will have made stops in 19 Texas cities.

For a full list of tour stops, click here.

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We’ve written a lot over the past few weeks about the GOP runoff showdown between Gary Gates and Wayne Christian for that seat on the Railroad Commission.

Don’t forget, though, that the Democrats are also choosing between Grady Yarbrough and Cody Garrett for their nominee for the same slot on May 24.

Garrett announced on Tuesday that he plans a weeklong road trip around the state. The stated goal is “to spread the word for two dollar a gallon gas and an affordable energy policy for the Lone Star state.”

The tour kicks off on Thursday and includes stops in Plainview, Hondo, Kerrville, Fredericksburg and Austin.

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We noted last week the passing of Ken Towery who was buried earlier this week in the Texas State Cemetery. The span of his accomplishments was ably captured by the Austin American-Statesman’s Ken Herman in this column, which ran late last week and is well worth a read.

One of Towery’s initial accomplishments as a journalist was the uncovering of fraud in the Veterans Land Program, something that earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 1955.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced on Monday that the General Land Office would make available for public viewing Towery’s notes from his reporting for the story.

In a statement, Bush said that Towery “helped to save an agency which continues to this day serving our Texas veterans. Years later he donated all of his records and notes from that groundbreaking story to our extensive archives. All of us here at the General Land Office and Veterans Land Board mourn his passing and extend our sincere condolences to his family and all who knew him well.”

Disclosure: The General Land Office has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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