Wed February 25, 2015 10:03 am By R.G. Ratcliffe

Polling in presidential races this early tends to have the Flavor of the Week feel – the candidate with the most favorable publicity tends to take the lead. Rick Perry has been trailing in these polls, but a new one has some data that might give the former Texas governor hope that his “Ooops” moment from 2011 is not haunting him.

Although the survey of Republican voters by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling puts Perry into the also-ran category, the poll also suggests that Perry may get a second chance to make a first impression. Among the Republicans surveyed, 43 percent held a positive opinion of Perry, while just 18 percent had an unfavorable view. Another 40 percent said they are not sure they have an opinion of Perry. That’s the crowd he can still win over, and the ones that his opponents have to remind of his missteps in the last presidential race.

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Wed February 25, 2015 8:36 am By R.G. Ratcliffe

The honeymoon period for most governors is that time when the Texas Senate rubber stamps appointments to state agencies, but Greg Abbott is having his nominees ruffled by the right wing of his own party. Abbott’s nominee for secretary of state was scolded for using the term “undocumented” instead of “illegal” to describe people entering the country illegally, and on Thursday the Senate Nominations Committee will take testimony from University of Texas regent appointees who have been declared “unqualified” by the tea party-oriented Empower Texans.

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Tue February 24, 2015 4:56 pm By R.G. Ratcliffe

The new property tax cut plan from Dan Patrick and Jane Nelson will provide a tax break windfall for homeowners in rural and South Texas and mild tax relief for those with rapidly rising home values. But it also will shift the tax burden to renters and large taxpayers such as refineries while setting a potential pratfall for future legislators.

It is pretty easy to say any tax relief is better than no tax relief. And there unquestionably are enough breaks in the $4.6 billion package of property and business tax cuts for the lieutenant governor to engage in some chest thumping. “It has been long overdue,” Patrick said.

Senator Nelson’s portion of the package includes $2.5 billion in what she likes to call “tax relief” for the 2016-17 biennium. Why tax relief instead of a tax cut? We’ll come to that later.

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Tue February 24, 2015 2:52 pm By R.G. Ratcliffe

State Senator Leticia Van de Putte uttered one of the most famous phrases of the 2013 fight over abortion restrictions at the Legislature when she said, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” But she had no trouble being heard Tuesday, bidding the Senate farewell to run for mayor of San Antonio. 

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Sun February 22, 2015 10:42 am By R.G. Ratcliffe

Boxing great Muhammad Ali once predicted he could avoid being hit in a fight by floating like a butterfly, and Greg Abbott displayed that same skill today while talking to CBS newsman Bob Schieffer about the Republican presidential nominating process and illegal immigration.

The Texas governor showed a skillful dodge when the Texas-born host of Face the Nation asked him about the prospects that Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Rick Perry will seek the Republican presidential nomination. Will they all run, Schieffer asked.

“I would not be surprised if they all run,” Abbott replied. “If I can expand on that, the Texas connection, Carly Fiorina was born in Austin, Texas, as you were. We also have Rand Paul, who is a Texas native. So the odds favor the next president, at least the Republican nominee, is going to have a Texas connection.”

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