What was Texas talking about this week? 

Something Perry and Obama Can Agree On: A&M’s New Deal
How big was Texas A&M’s annoucement of the new biotechnology-focused Center for Innovation? Chancellor John Sharp compared it to NASA (for the sheer size of its federal funding), while A&M vice chancellor for strategic initiatives Dr. Brett Giroir suggested it could make College Station as synonymous with biotechnology, vaccine production, and medical advances as Los Alamos is with nuclear research.

But what really made the deal a coup was not just all the potential jobs and future research but that it happened with a Democratic president in the White House and an Obama-bashing Aggie running Texas.

As the Austin American-Statesman wrote on its editorial page:

Sharp, Gov. Rick Perry and officials in the Obama administration deserve high praise for making the A&M project happen. Sharp called the effort “a near-perfect bipartisan deal.” Former Texas Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, who ran for governor against George W. Bush in 1998, called Sharp “a hell of a salesman” for persuading the Obama administration to put aside election-year politics to give Perry’s alma mater a major federal grant that will benefit Texas enormously for the foreseeable future.

Dewhurst and Cruz: Must-See TV
Friday night is typically a TV-watching graveyard, so what better time to hold the first of two debates between Republican U.S. Senate candidates David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz, who are going up against each other in what is expected to be a low voter-turnout runoff July 31.

Aman Batheja of the Texas Tribune predicts we’ll finally see the fireworks the larger primary debates missed out on, though Cruz has almost always been entirely about going after Dewhurst, and Dewhurst has done the same in TV, radio, and online ads. 

“You can’t hang back in a two-person debate,” Northeastern University journalism professor Allan Schroeder told Batheja, “Really there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide in a two-person debate, which makes it a much more grueling experience.”

The debate will be moderated by Shelley Kofler of the Dallas PBS station KERA, with additional questions from Peggy Fikac of the San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle, Crystal Ayala of Univision Texas, and Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune. More than fifty Texas television and radio stations are listed on KERA’s site as carrying the broadcast. It will also stream online, and on C-Span and C-Span radio.

Vice President Ron Paul?
No, that’s not gonna happen. But Jon Ward at the Huffington Post suggests that nominating the now-inactive Republican presidential candidate for the number two job just might be the play that Paul supporters need to grab the spotlight at the August’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

This is due to an obscure rule change that says “instead of requiring a majority of delegates from five states, a candidate needed only a plurality of delegates from five states” to have his name entered into nomination–something that’s within the reach of Paul’s supporters. (The rule would not apply as easily to a presidential nomination, where many delegates are bound by state party rules to vote for Mitt Romney –but not for any particular vice presidential nominee.)

“Shocker! Ron Paul and Rule 40 — The NEW Romney Nightmare,” crowed one story at the Daily Paul, while Slate‘s Dave Weigel, one of the few consistent national voices on the Paul beat, wrote that “figuring out a way to appease the Paul wing of the party without letting them dominate the convention — and distract from the assault on Barack Obama’s economic record — is shaping up to be a real challenge for Team Romney.”

Still, an equally credible analysis came from “Allahpundit” at the conservative blog Hot Air, who dismissed the scenario on non-political grounds: “HuffPo once again demonstrates its Jedi mastery of SEO by cooking up far-fetched link bait about the pol with the most passionate fan base on the Internet.” 

It’s a Long (Frozen) Road For the Dallas Stars
With the NHL and NBA seasons now both over, it’s time to look to next year. The National Hockey League has already released its 2012-2013 schedule, and as Brad Gardner of Defending Big D noted, the Dallas Stars will travel longer and farther than any other team: 49,851 miles.

The league average is 39, 792, while the Philadelphia Flyers, which can take Amtrak to three different cites (Newark, New York and Washington, D.C.), only has to endure 27,541.

The Stars had hoped a long-planned NHL realignment would get the team moved out of its current Pacific Division (with San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Phoenix) into a new one with fellow Central time zone teams Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, and St. Louis. But the realignment never happened, so the Stars will continue to play lots of games in California.

The good news is, it may not really matter. Rob Pettapiece of the NHL Numbers website found that since the Stars joined the Pacific in the 1998-1999 season, they’ve won 79 percent of the home games where, in theory, they should be most jet-lagged: games played right after a road game in the Pacific time zone, with no more than one day off. 

And that 1998-1999 season was a pretty good one.