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Political Report

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The Legislative Report
By SHEILAH PEPPER
The Gazette Staff
Over the next seven weeks, political campaigns statewide will kick into high gear. Governor Rick Perry and challenger Bill White will travel thousands of miles and spend substantial amounts of campaign cash across the state.
Labor Day saw the beginning of the respective advertising campaigns. On television, the ads will often be placed in news programs because it's believed that people who watch the news are more likely to vote.
The current atmosphere across the country and in Texas is to Perry's benefit. He has campaigned on an anti-Washington theme, often citing federal government interference with Texas. Perry told supporters recently that the November vote is about "taking our country back." Texas, in terms of the state's economy, continues to do better than the rest of the nation and this will likely put the wind at Perry's back this fall.
Additionally, polls show Republicans to be highly motivated and focused, which can benefit GOP candidates in terms of voter turnout.
White is campaigning on running state government more like a business, an unusual theme for Democrat. He was notably absent from the scene when President Obama made some fund raising stops in Texas.
It appears there will be no debate between Perry and White. It also appears that there may be few debates in other state races.
Two Republicans have decided not to participate in an Austin area debate moderated by the League of Women Voters. Ken Mercer, an incumbent and Marsha Farney, who is running for an open seat, said they did not want to head into an environment they see as possibly hostile.
Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri said he had advised the two candidates to skip the debate because the League would be better described as the "League of Women Democrats." He provided a list showing that all six of the League's elected officers had voted in Democrat primaries in recent years.
The president of the Austin area branch of the League denied the charge saying that "We have never looked up our members' primary voting records."
However, many on the right have long believed that the League's top tier of officials was taken over by Democrats, beginning in the early to mid 90s.
One fairly major debate will take place in the race for Land Commissioner. Incumbent Republican Jerry Patterson will debate with Democrat challenger Hector Uribe, a former state senator.
Elections for the Texas House of Representatives will likely be hard fought. In January, the new Legislature will tackle the task of redistricting, a process that impacts political races, among other things, for a decade. House Republicans have organized their campaigns under the banner "Hands Off Texas!" echoing the Governor's anti-Washington campaign.