The Brief: January 29, 2010

Brief devotees, like this brief writer, have surely scheduled their date nights for Saturday—tonight’s the second and final Republican gubernatorial debate, and everyone’s talking about it!

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Brief devotees, like this brief writer, have surely scheduled their date nights for Saturday — tonight’s the second and final Republican gubernatorial debate, and everyone’s talking about it!

The consensus: look forward to more punchy attacks from Debra Medina, who “is making the case [against Perry] more forcefully than Hutchinson might dare.”

Medina, a Libertarian-style grassroots candidate, sprang “out of far right field” to climb to 12 percent in the polls. The nurse and businesswoman from Wharton could push Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison into a runoff — “continuing a costly fight and weakening the eventual nominee.”

If you’re combining date night with debate night (or you’re watching it with your bosses) and want to impress with your staggering repository of Medina knowledge, look to the right for a round-up of The Texas Tribune’s coverage of the candidate. And, if you want a refresher on last time’s three-way face-off, go here.

Meanwhile, Hutchison’s been busy as she travels between Washington, D.C., and campaign stops in Texas almost every few days — though a spokesman said she’s not overprogrammed, “As any mom knows, you have to able to multi-task and work as hard as possible through the day.”

Though Hutchison and Medina will have him in their crosshairs as the one to beat, Perry told the Houston Chronicle he wasn’t worried: “I've been preparing for this debate for about 25 years. So nothing's different.”

And don’t forget about the Democrats, who yesterday set their first debate for Feb. 8 in Fort Worth.

At least they have the decency to do it on a weeknight.

CULLED:

• If what UT law students get told all the time — that Austin has the highest number of lawyers per capita outside of Washington D.C. — is true, it doesn’t seem like the state capital needs another law firm. But online legal services company LegalZoom, baited by the city of Austin with $20,000 of incentives, and another $1 million from the recently prominent Texas Enterprise Fund, is considering building a regional headquarters here.

• Want to avoid political conversations this weekend? For once, there’s plenty to say about the weather. “Snow-maggedon” struck the Panhandle and the plains of West Texas yesterday, causing whiteout conditions, downing tree limbs and power lines, and leaving 6.4 inches of snow in Amarillo. Also, yesterday the Insurance Council of Texas gave Hurricane Ike the dubious honor of being the “costliest weather catastrophe in Texas history” in terms of insurance coverage.

• San Antonio homeowners whose houses were crushed by a faulty retaining wall in a Centex subdivision probably won’t be able to sue, because of a binding-arbitration clause in their contracts.

“The Statesman is trying to make Farouk Shami look like a rube when he really is not.” — Farouk Shami campaign manager Vince Leibowitz on the paper’s “ police interrogation” at an editorial board meeting yesterday.

MUST READ:

CPS and NRG are headed toward SplitsvilleThe San Antonio Express-News

Scanners coming to Capitol?The Austin American-Statesman

Some university endowments, including UT's, lost a fourth of their value last yearThe Dallas Morning News  

File Not Found — The Texas Tribune

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