White's short long weekend, returning reps and a Capitol Christmas
By Richard Whittaker,
9:00AM, Sun. Nov. 29, 2009
With the Thanksgiving turkey digesting, it's another weekend update from the Legislature.
– Democrat Bill White continues to be coy about jumping from the Senate to the governor's race. His campaign's most recent Tweet, issued late Friday, simply said, "I am calling it a day, after responding to many of the 4000 emails we have received since last Tuesday." Of course, it's wholly coincidental that the hubbub about the Houston mayor has reached a fever pitch on the weekend when a lot of Texans are sat home with their new issue of Texas Monthly with the big Bill White article. Now that's how you own the media cycle.
– An addendum to the observation earlier this month that Speaker Joe Straus announced his appointees to the empty Sunset Advisory Commission seats in his purview. There have been some raised eyebrows about the selection of Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas. Widely seen as one of the brightest hopes for a statewide Democratic win in the next decade (he's sometimes refered to as "future Governor/Senator Anchia"), this plum appointment is another big boost for his career.
– Straus also released his interim charges to the House committees: This wish list of issues he wants tackling is intended to form the basis of next session's major legislation. Democratic activists are grumbling that voter ID is back, but it's probably worth remembering that Anchia has his own omnibus elections reform bill in his back pocket, and House Democratic Caucus Chair Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, has repeatedly said he'd like to see the Republicans in a put-up-or-shut-up fight over making every vote count, rather than just disenfranchising people.
– Less well noticed was that, on Monday, Julie Straus got to continue the honor bestowed upon the wife of the House Speaker of unveiling the latest official Texas Capitol Ornament. This year, they're modeled on the Capitol's bronze door knobs, and are available either online or at the Texas Capitol Gift Shop in the Capitol extension. Oh, well, maybe Monday's delivery of the Christmas tree to the Capitol steps will make up for that media oversight.
– The list of confirmed candidates for (re-)election gets longer:
– Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, has mothballed her US Senate campaign because, from the looks of it, there won't be a primary since Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison won't stand down.
– Reps. Charlie Howard, R-Sugarland, and Joe Driver, R-Garland, will be back on the ballot. Hey, if Driver is re-elected, maybe he can get more guns where people don't want them.
– Dallas Democrat Rep. Carol Kent has a general election challenger: Commercial litigator, former Collin County prosecutor, Perry appointee to the State Board of Educator Certification (with no education background whatsoever) and ex-USA Today columnist Stefani Carter.
UPDATE: An interesting addendum: In 2005, Carter was slammed by Media Matters for a 2004 column, classily entitled "Social Insecurity for Blacks and the Poor," in which she erroneously claimed that social security was in financial free fall. She used those incorrect figures to back then-Pres. George W. Bush's proposal to partially privatize those funds.