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Speaker Paul Ryan Comes Calling for Cash in Texas

Also, Tom Harrison wants to resign his spot on the Ethics Commission but he can't leave just yet and the race for Rodney Ellis' SD-13 seat starts to come into focus.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan at the Republican National Committee in Washington D.C. on April 12, 2016.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan will be in Texas for at least the third time since he took the gavel as the House GOP leader.

Ryan will headline a fundraiser today for his political operation at a ranch in Wimberley, Texas. Requested donations range from $2,700 to $244,000, according to an invitation obtained by the Tribune.

Nine Republican members of the delegation are also scheduled to attend: U.S. Reps. Joe Barton of Ennis, Kevin Brady of The Woodlands, John Carter of Round Rock, Mike Conaway of Midland, Blake Farenthold of Corpus Christi, Bill Flores of Bryan, Will Hurd of San Antonio, Michael McCaul of Austin, Randy Weber of Friendswood and Roger Williams of Austin.

Contributions will go toward Ryan's personal congressional campaign, his leadership political action committee and the House GOP campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee. Ryan is in a mostly safe Wisconsin seat. As a party leader, he mostly uses this money to support GOP campaigns in competitive House districts.

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Tom Harrison, the vice chairman and longest-serving member of the Texas Ethics Commission and also that agency’s former executive director, sent his letter of resignation to Gov. Greg Abbott late last week.

But he can’t leave just yet.

Harrison’s term on that commission was supposed to end on Nov. 19, 2011. He was appointed to the job in March 2004 and reappointed in 2007. But neither Abbott nor his predecessor, Rick Perry, appointed a replacement. The law says appointees serve until their replacements are named or until they themselves are disqualified, (which generally means by death or relocation to another state).

Harrison’s replacement is a little complicated, as he or she has to be chosen by the governor from a list submitted by the Senate’s Democratic Caucus (others are chosen from lists submitted by House Democrats and by Republicans in the Senate and in the House). While the Senate Democrats and the governor work this out, Harrison will remain on the job.

Three other commissioners — Wilhelmina Delco, Paul Hobby, and Bob Long — are also due for replacement. Their terms on the eight-member board expired last November.

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Precinct chairs in state Senate District 13 will meet July 16 to effectively elect the successor to Rodney Ellis, the Texas Democratic Party announced Monday afternoon.

The Houston lawmaker is vacating the seat after being selected as the Democratic nominee for Harris County commissioner on Saturday, taking the late El Franco Lee’s spot on the ballot. Whomever wins the support of a majority of the precinct chairs at the July 16 meeting will take Ellis’ ballot spot in November, where he is running unopposed.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman later in the week chose to take himself out of the running for the seat.

"Over the last several months I’ve been honored to hear encouragement from so many constituents, precinct chairs, party activists and friends about pursuing the position of Senator from District 13 after Senator Ellis’ vacancy," Coleman said in a statement Thursday afternoon. "After careful deliberation, however, I have decided to remain in the House of Representatives, as one of the most senior members of the body, and chair of the County Affairs Committee and Legislative Study Group Caucus."

Coleman's decision not to enter the race leaves three candidates in the mix: Houston state Reps. Borris Miles and Senfronia Thompson, as well as former City Controller Ron Green.

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Robert Morrow, the controversial new chairman of the Travis County GOP, presided over his first meeting Tuesday and it went... pretty much as expected. 

Morrow began the meeting by saying he supports the "continued functioning" of the party as it is, then launched into a recitation of all the conspiracy theories that have become synonymous with him. Morrow showed up in a three-pointed jester's hat — each point, he said, representing a little-known indiscretion by a U.S. political leader.

The room seemed largely uninterested in the spiel by Morrow, and in a few instances, people tried to cut him off to no avail. Before his remarks, he made an effort to introduce himself to the skeptical crowd, going around the room and shaking hands.

The Austin American-Statesman has more on the meeting, which came three weeks after the party's executive committee voted to limit the role of the chairman.

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