All Coverage

Ring and Run

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez apparently likes answering questions from reporters about as much as Britney Spears likes pimples in the middle of her forehead. And any candidate likes to let things cool a bit before jumping into a hot story. And when one candidate is ducking stories, the opponent is sure to try to capitalize on that.

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The Sweet Smell of Success

Watch the business page and you know why John Cornyn moved his July 13 fundraiser to a ranch owned by oilman/rancher Walter Mize. It was scheduled for the Beaumont Ranch, near Grandview (which is south of Fort Worth), but the owner of that spread is Cornyn supporter Ron Beaumont. Beaumont is also the chief operating officer of WorldCom. Revelations about that company's accounting scandals prompted Cornyn to start up the legal machinery in the attorney general's office–he's launched an investigation–and to move the fundraiser for his bid for U.S. Senate.

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State Employee Pay Raises Aren't Dead Yet

One of those things bubbling in the back of the current state budget is a list of contingent appropriations—unfulfilled items on the last Legislature's wish list. The list includes things like a pay raise for state judges and a 3 percent pay raise for state employees. It works like this: If the state is bringing in more tax money than she predicted, Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander is supposed to watch until there's enough extra money to fund the first thing on the list, and when there is enough, to tell the Legislative Budget Board about it. And so on.

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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

The newest member of Gov. Rick Perry's anti-crime task force has two unusual traits: He's been under federal criminal investigation for more than two years, and earlier this year, he sought the Democratic Party's nomination to run against Perry. Former Attorney General Dan Morales was appointed to the panel by Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed and former AG and Texas Supreme Court Justice John Hill. He says it's not politics: He's serving on the task force because of his expertise in asset forfeiture and drug money laundering laws he helped write.

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Way Out West

You would think the Democrats were holding their convention in the Yukon to hear some of the griping about going "all the way to El Paso" for the biennial state gathering. But the Democrats are the biggest convention that city gets, and El Paso is one of the most reliably Democratic counties in the state. They need each other.

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Friends Like These

A fair number of Republican state representatives in Texas–almost a third of them, in fact–think it would be a bad idea to decide the next speaker's race inside the Republican caucus.

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A Gathering of Elephants

The Republican Party of Texas expects to have a relatively smooth state convention: Nobody is throwing fits about positions taken by prominent state officeholders, nobody is opposing the reelection of Chairwoman Susan Weddington, and there haven't even been any juicy scandals lately. Expect something of a love fest when the GOP meets in Dallas this week.

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How Deep is this Ditch?

Either Tony Sanchez is 25 points behind Rick Perry, as a recent third-party poll shows, or he's 12 points behind–the margin he and his aides say they see in their own polling.

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Just Squint and Pretend It's Labor Day

The two richest candidates in Texas—Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez and Republican lieutenant governor candidate David Dewhurst—are using the most expensive kind of advertising to talk to voters in a move that might have less to do with votes than with resources.

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The Race for Second Place

Texas Democrat Tony Sanchez broke the suspense about whether a wealthy guy would run a normal campaign for governor. The answer is no, and the evidence is on television. With six long months to go before the general election–some states haven't even had their primaries yet–Sanchez loosed a blitz of advertising aimed, at least initially, at convincing voters he's a good guy.

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The Last Episode for the Political Sorting Hat

In the new districts drawn for the Texas House, and in those drawn for Texas seats in the U.S. House, there are several seats that voted for Republicans on average in 1998 while voting with the Democrats on closer races, like the one for comptroller. That's a measure of the coattail strength of then-Gov. George W. Bush. And it's useful if you're trying to figure out whether a seat that initially appears to belong to the Republicans is actually theirs. Bush's strength added as few as two percentage points to overall Republican numbers in some districts and as much as 16 percentage points in others.

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The Political Sorting Hat, Part 2

Most of the newly drawn House districts–105 of them–voted Republican when you average all of the statewide races together. But when you look only at the closest race on the ballot–the contest for comptroller between Republican Carole Keeton Rylander and Democrat Paul Hobby150;the numbers are much closer. In fact, the statewide averages were skewed by the huge margin of victory racked up by George W. Bush, in particular, and make the House districts look an average of 9 percent more Republican than the comptroller's race. In two dozen districts, the Republican statewide average was at or above 50 percent but the comptroller's race went to the Democrat.

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The Political Sorting Hat

Now that the primaries and runoffs are out of the way, some of the numbers are firming up. We'll save the prognostication for a bit so the real numbers and the imaginary ones don't get mixed.

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Dreams, Schmemes: Look at the Numbers

Our Department of Curious Statistics produced this nugget: More Democrats voted in the runoffs in Dallas and Tarrant Counties than voted in the primaries a month earlier. In Dallas County, 77,938 people voted in the Democratic Senate primary in March. In April, that number increased significantly, to 92,408. Tarrant County's numbers did the same hat trick, increasing to 39,094 in April from 36,812 in March. In Dallas, the additional voters broke almost two-to-one in favor of former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk. In Tarrant County, the numbers were more dramatic: The combination of increased turnout and the absence of Ken Bentsen and other candidates to dilute support put more than 5,900 additional votes in Kirk's column. Add in what happened in other counties, like Travis and Harris and Bexar, and you have strong evidence that Democrats are rebuilding their political infrastructure.

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What's Up, Doc?

Politicians don't like sitting around while other people are getting a bunch of attention, and that's as good an explanation as any for the early dustup in the governor's race. Gov. Rick Perry and his challenger, Tony Sanchez Jr., spent the week before a runoff that doesn't directly involve them taking potshots at each other. They started in the doctor's office and got all the way to prison by mid-week.

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Switch Hitters

A year ago, Dr. John Coppedge of Longview was one of the biggest supporters of Gov. Rick Perry in his part of the state. But they had a falling out over Perry's vetoes of the "prompt pay" legislation pushed by the Texas Medical Association.

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Two Fumbles on the Same Play

It's easier to get rid of fire ants than it is to kill rumors, but the latest news from Texas A&M; should subdue the latest gossip about the U.S. Senate seat now held by Phil Gramm. More importantly, it should be added to the lore about people in powerful positions botching easy opportunities.

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The President's Representative

A couple of Waco Republicans have turned a relatively quiet race for the Texas House of Representatives into a soap opera. Two Republicans seeking to represent a noteworthy chunk of McLennan County in the Texas Legislature have an unusual set of issues to debate: philandering, stalking, videotaping, ugly messages left on answering machines, kicked down doors, divorce and general fitness to hold office.

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Scorched Earth, Part 1

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez, criticized last year for raising questions about a political opponent's sexual proclivities, is running radio ads referring to a lawyer who helped Dan Morales on tobacco litigation as "an intimate friend" of the former attorney general.

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A Sea Change in the Senate?

Several Senate races are tight, or at least loud and vicious and interesting to watch. And if the political winds blow in a particular direction in the primaries and again in the general election, a handful of conservative Republicans could take seats in the upper chamber and quickly change the philosophical compass there. A group that includes Gary Polland of Houston, Tommy Williams of The Woodlands, Craig Estes of Wichita Falls, Bob Deuell of Greenville, Ed Harrison of Waxahachie and John Shields of San Antonio is knocking hard on the door. That's a collection that would make the Senate a great deal more conservative than it is now. Deuell's race is in November, against Sen. David Cain, D-Dallas; the five others are in primaries that are likely–because of the way the districts are drawn–to determine who'll win in November. Those districts all lean to the GOP.

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