All Coverage

Missing in Action

Land Commissioner David Dewhurst stood up a big room full of veterans who were waiting to hear him speak last week. He was supposed to talk at the morning session of the Veterans of Foreign Wars mid-winter conference. But he left a crowd of about 1,500 former warriors sitting on their hands.

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Getting On Down the Road

Gov. Rick Perry will uncork a sweeping transportation proposal within the week that will include high speed rail lines connecting some of the state's biggest cities, leasing of highway right of way to companies that want to build pipelines and fiber optic networks and cellular towers, the use of state money to supplement tolls on roads that can't initially pay their own way, and a new notion about how to build, operate and pay for all of it.

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Perhaps a $5 Billion Problem, Perhaps Not

State candidates from the bottom of the ballot to the top are talking about the budget mess they expect to confront a year from now. But the budget people who actually work on this stuff are still sorting through the numbers, attempting to get a picture of the train wreck the candidates fear.

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Momentum vs. Victory

If you are a Republican and you want this messy thing to be over, now's the time to spin the tale that Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, has bagged the votes he needs to become the next speaker of the Texas House. But it's far too early for Craddick himself to say anything like that.

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He Did What?

Say this for him: Dan Morales can keep a secret. He's been saying for months that he was considering a race for U.S. Senate, and nobody we know of asked him if he was looking at any other offices. When he shocked the bejeebers out of everyone by filing for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, he changed the outlook for everyone at the top of his party's ticket.

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An Army of Speculators

The two youngest children of Sen. Jane Nelson kids are still in high school. That could turn out to be a real hitch in the getalong for someone who otherwise has a nice, clean (and rare) shot at a seat in the United States Congress. Nelson is probably the strongest in the Republican field to replace U.S. Rep. Dick Armey, R-Flower Mound.

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Folding Chairs

House Speaker Pete Laney has a handful of problems he didn't have just a week ago, ranging from the decisions of a dozen committee chairmen not to seek reelection, to the decision by a prominent Republican House member to endorse Laney's nemesis, Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland.

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A Map to a Decisive Republican Majority

Republicans think they'll be able to put as many as 90 people in the Texas House next year and as many as 19 in the Texas Senate because of the new maps drawn by a panel of three federal judges. That's a ground shift, and a big one, and it potentially carries the biggest prize in redistricting: The ability to draw the maps that will actually be used to elect members of Congress and the Texas Legislature for the rest of the decade.

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Is 2% Wrong Similar to 98% Right?

The U.S. Department of Justice–that same bunch that said a couple of weeks ago that they wouldn't be ready to say anything about the Texas House until the end of the month, uncorked a letter at midmonth that might change everything. Or, it might not.

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A Victory for Congressional Democrats

The three federal judges deciding which political maps will be used next year are making Texas Republicans nervous. The map for congressional districts—the first one out of the chute and the least important in terms of future politics in Texas—is a lot closer to what the Democrats wanted than to what the Republicans had hoped for.

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Plan 9 From Outer Space

The United States Department of Justice ducked behind the hedgerow, telling the federal judges in charge of Texas redistricting matters that the Bush Administration won't have anything to say about the state's maps for the Texas House of Representatives until the end of November.

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A Break from Taxes They Don't Levy

No, Virginia, there is no national sales tax, but politicians are politicians and tax holidays are popular gimmicks. Some of the politicos in Washington, DC, are talking about a national sales tax holiday that would hit right in the middle of the Christmas buying season. The idea is that the federal government would reimburse the states that have a pre-Christmas sales tax holiday. It's been the subject of conversation both in the national and state capitals, but the proposal is fraught with the sorts of pesky details that could easily sink it.

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Texas Uber Alles

A magazine ad for Land Commissioner David Dewhurst features a boast about his efforts to defend the Homeland, along with a photo of a German Air Force officer in front of an American flag.

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A Traffic Jam, Right on Schedule

This is the rush hour for redistricting, and the legal and political snags are just as nasty as everyone expected them to be. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are playing smash-mouth politics, as their legions would hope and expect, and the whining has reached a fever pitch.

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Chin Music

Sometimes a baseball pitcher will throw one on the outside of the plate to lure a batter closer, then follow it with a fast inside pitch to send the batter sprawling. If you've been watching Austin District Judge Paul Davis handle congressional redistricting plans, you can probably identify with that batter.

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At Last, a Congressional Redistricting Map

State District Judge Paul Davis is halfway done. He's drawn a congressional redistricting map that is now the starting point for other judges on the state and federal levels, and he'll begin hearings right away on maps for state Senate and House elections. That congressional map is the first with anything like an official seal of approval on it. The Legislature didn't pass a plan and the Legislative Redistricting Board didn't have jurisdiction on congressional plans. If it doesn't run into another judge with a crayon, Davis' map could actually be used to elect the next congressional delegation from Texas.

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Tentative Steps Forward

Politics came to a halt in Texas on Sept. 11 but while the play has since picked up, the landscape has changed. Until at least next spring, money is likely to be tight, messages will be difficult to craft and voters are less likely to be interested in state politics than they have been in recent years. Political tactics and strategy are changing and politicians are testing the new ground.

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September Primaries, Sans Voters

When Ann Richards was governor of Texas, two Republicans with political genes wanted to challenge her. But George W. Bush and Rob Mosbacher didn't want to slog through a bloody primary fight that would leave the winner too scarred to beat Richards in November 1994. They held a meeting on Mosbacher's turf, with a gaggle of reporters waiting outside. When they came out, Mosbacher said he would support Bush's gubernatorial bid. He later ran for mayor of Houston. Bush went on to beat Richards and their voter-free primary became a model for Texas politics.

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Politics on Hold

The suicide hijackings in New York City, Washington, D.C., and in rural Pennsylvania put an abrupt stop to what had been a suddenly busy political season in Texas. What seemed important on Monday was no longer worth attention by mid-morning on Tuesday.

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A Disorderly Succession

There's nothing like the rare availability of a U.S. Senate seat to prove that few people in elected office are really happy with the offices they already occupy. After U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm announced that he will serve until the end of this term and then leave office, Texas turned into a political Field of Dreams. For the first 48 hours, every politico in Texas was on the phone, either checking to see about support for a promotion, or taking calls from friends who wanted support for a promotion.

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