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Will we get a piece of the stimulus?

Maybe, maybe not.

Many states, running short of cash, may jump at the chance to spend federal stimulus money.

In Texas, though, the executive and legislative branches may not jump in unison.

Several Democrats and even a few Republicans are nervous that Gov. Rick Perry might reject the federal aid.

“If there’s any risk Perry would reject that money, we want responsible lawmakers to take it, allocate it and use it for Texas,” said state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso.

Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle wouldn’t say if the governor will oppose taking any of the aid.

“The governor continues to oppose the bailout, but if Congress does allocate taxpayer money, a lot of which is from hard-working Texans, then Texans deserve their fair share,” she said.

So at least there’s a chance that practicality will trump ideology, but it’s not a sure thing. As with just about everything these days, it’ll depend on the politics of the Republican gubernatorial primary.

With the GOP primary a year away, the politics of government intervention in the economy have emerged as the first clear flashpoint between Perry and Republican rival Kay Bailey Hutchison, who wants to unseat him as governor.

Perry has declared his independence from Washington by opposing stimulus packages in virtually any form – and chiding Hutchison for voting for the initial $700 billion bailout pushed by the Bush administration. Hutchison aides fire back that Perry has been hypocritical on the issue.

Hutchison has rejected a pair of stimulus packages, including the compromise tentatively approved Friday, amid growing GOP opposition. But Perry aides are pounding her with criticism that she’s flip-flopped on the issue as they head into next year’s Republican gubernatorial primary.


Republican consultant Royal Masset said that even in the Republican Party, there’s a desire for government to stem the economic crisis.

“People are forgetting that Republicans were the ones who floated the great bailout that started this whole thing,” he said. “It’s not exactly like this is a Democratic plot to make the world safe for socialism.”

Yes, well, the stimulus package is supported by those pinkos in the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. You’d think they might have some influence in this debate, but with Rick Perry and Kay Bailey marching to the same right-wing drummer, they may find themselves frustrated by it all. Which is why I’ve been screaming about the need to have some Democratic counterweight to them. As such, I’m pleased to see there’s at least one person out there who might run for Governor as a Democrat.

Tom Schieffer of Fort Worth recently returned to Texas after serving as U.S. ambassador to Australia and, more recently, Japan under former President George W. Bush.

Before that, he was president of the Texas Rangers baseball team when Bush was a part owner of the franchise.

Now, figuring out what to do next, Schieffer has been calling friends and associates, weighing a possible race for the Democratic nomination for governor next year.

Yes, Democratic nomination. Before hooking up with Bush, Schieffer, brother of CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, was a Democratic state representative from Fort Worth in the 1970s.

He has been away from Texas politics (and the country) for years and, thanks to his Bush connections, likely would encounter a cool, even hostile, reception from many Democratic voters.

Not exactly a resume to fire me up, and I daresay I won’t be alone in that reaction, but I fear the possibility of beggars-can’t-be-choosers territory, and let’s face it – I ain’t voting for Kinky, no way, no how. At least a guy like this might have some capability to raise money, and to get some reasonably credible candidates on the rest of the ballot. I can live with that.

Finally, in case you’re curious, our junior Senator missed today’s cloture vote on the stimulus package to chase a little stimulus of his own. I feel so represented.

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