Tags: Texas

Can This Really Be Wendy Davis’s True Goal?


Every once in a while, when a celebrity within the conservative movement hints at a presidential campaign, cynics will chuckle, “He’s really running for a Fox News gig.” In late 2011, four names mentioned as potential GOP presidential candidates were under contract with Fox News: Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. Santorum and Gingrich ran, and won several primaries.

Down in Texas, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is concluding her doomed campaign with increasingly embarrassing over-the-top attacks on Republican Greg Abbott — as NRO Cruise guest Guy Benson summarizes her argument, “He’s confined to a wheelchair, but cares not about people with disabilities. He’s married to a Latina, but may oppose interracial marriage.” Why the last minute, ultra-low mudslinging?

And now the Democrats begin to live with candidates who appear to want to win a cable-news contract more than they want to win actual votes. If this is true . . . how do all of her donors feel? How do Texas Democrats feel about her using their gubernatorial nomination as an $11 million audition tape for MSNBC?

We hear a lot of voices lamenting our nasty political environment, and uglier, harsher public discourse. If this campaign, with this tone, gets Wendy Davis an MSNBC gig, who is really responsible for the tone of our debate?

Was she playing a different game all along?

Tags: Wendy Davis , Texas , Greg Abbott

After Wheelchair Ad, Wendy Davis Polls at 32 Percent


Wendy Davis, defending her infamous “wheelchair” ad, a week ago:

The important thing about this ad is that voters now see Greg Abbott for who he is and of course in an election that’s entirely the point.

She was right! A new poll out this morning:

As early voters head to the polls for a landmark election in Texas, a new survey conducted for KHOU-TV and Houston Public Media shows Republican Greg Abbott with a commanding lead over Democrat Wendy Davis in the race for governor.

Abbott’s supported by 47 percent of likely voters surveyed for the poll, compared to Davis’ 32 percent. Another 15 percent were undecided.

The 32 percent in that poll is tied for her lowest total in a poll in 2014. Good work, ma’am.

Tags: Greg Abbott , Wendy Davis , Texas

The Left, Hoping the Lack of a Surgeon General Becomes a Huge Issue


Since the Ebola outbreak began to dominate the news cycle, you’ve heard liberals contending that the lack of a surgeon general is some sort of major impediment to the U.S. government effort to control the disease. As the Washington Post summarized,

Vivek Murthy, the president’s nominee to be the next surgeon general, was too politically outspoken for some. He was an Obama supporter and an advocate for Obamacare. But he also said gun violence in America is a public health issue. So senators, including some Democrats, withheld support.

Today on Ronan Farrow’s MSNBC program, the host invited former surgeon general Richard Carmona, who served under President Bush, on the program. The former surgeon general offered a bluntly harsh assessment that Murthy was “a young man who has great potential, but just a few years out of training, with no public health training or experience” and “a resume that only stands out because he was the co-founder of Doctors for Obama.” Carmona made similar comments on Fox News a few days ago.

“So substantive objections as well as well as partisan ones,” Farrow said quickly, moving on from the interview.

Later in the program, Farrow asked Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News whether Republicans would pay a price for opposing Murthy.

Farrow: Both Ted Cruz and Rick Perry oppose that nomination of Dr. Murthy. Tell me, how have Senators Cornyn and Cruz’s opposition played politically? Is that something that could backfire when we’re in the midst of this Ebola response that would seem to necessitate a surgeon general being in place?

Slater: Not likely, Ronan. Not here in Texas. Let me tell you, this is a political no-brainer for a Republican in a state like Texas — you vote for an Obama nominee, even in a crisis situation, a difficult like this, you vote against the NRA. The NRA wins every time. So don’t look for Cornyn or Cruz to be rallying around a new surgeon general, unless it’s someone the NRA doesn’t oppose.

Naturally, a few minutes later, Farrow asked Slater, “Looking at this nationally, how likely do you think it is that Ebola will become a political football heading into the midterms?”

Tags: Surgeon General , Ebola , Texas , Ted Cruz

Wendy Davis Ad: ‘A Tree Fell on Greg Abbott . . . He Sued and Got Millions . . .’


Heck of a closing message, Wendy Davis:

Tags: Wendy Davis , Greg Abbott , Texas

No ID at the Ballot Box in Wisconsin and Texas? No Problem!


Oh, hey, no big deal, just judges changing the laws regarding voter identification, 24 days before Election Day:

A federal judge likened Texas’ strict voter ID requirement to a poll tax deliberately meant to suppress minority voter turnout and struck it down less than a month before Election Day, and mere hours after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a similar Wisconsin measure . . . 

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi on Texas’ Gulf Coast, an appointee of President Barack Obama, never signaled during a two-week trial in September that she intended to rule on the Texas law before Election Day. But the timing could spare an estimated 13.6 million registered Texas voters from needing photo identification to cast a ballot. . . . 

In the Wisconsin case, the Supreme Court used a one-page order to grant an emergency stay sought by the American Civil Liberties Union and blocked implementation of the state’s voter ID law — overturning a decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals three days earlier.

This seems to be quite a shift in the justices’ thinking from just six years ago:

The Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter-identification law on Monday, declaring that a requirement to produce photo identification is not unconstitutional and that the state has a “valid interest” in improving election procedures as well as deterring fraud.

In a 6-to-3 ruling in one of the most awaited election-law cases in years, the court rejected arguments that Indiana’s law imposes unjustified burdens on people who are old, poor or members of minority groups and less likely to have driver’s licenses or other acceptable forms of identification. Because Indiana’s law is considered the strictest in the country, similar laws in the other 20 or so states that have photo-identification rules would appear to have a good chance of surviving scrutiny.

Tags: Wisconsin , Texas , Voter ID

Friday AG News Round-up


Republican incumbent attorney general Luther Strange is running for reelection in Alabama against Democrat Joe Hubbard. As ABC affiliate WNCF reports, while the race may be closer than many think, “Hubbard has to overcome being a Democrat.” Sounds a similar challenge faced by the Democratic candidate for AG in Arizona.

As I noted yesterday, Wisconsin Democrat Susan Happ asked media outlets to avoid the temptation of cherry-picking cases (despite doing so herself) to scrutinize her in her race against Republican Brad Schimel. It appears at least one group is choosing to follow Happ’s actions and ignore her words.

Ken Paxton, GOP candidate for attorney general in Texas, has earned the endorsement of the Texas Business Association.

Bill Schuette, Republican Attorney General of Michigan, has announced the National Federation of Independent Business’ PAC has endorsed his reelection bid.

Tags: Alabama , Wisconsin , Texas , Michigan

Morning AG Roundup


Wisconsin AG candidate Democrat Susan Happ is under fire for a plea deal her office made with a defendant accused of child sexual assault. Records show Happ sold Daniel Reynolds property prior to his being charged with first and second-degree sexual assaults of a child. Reynolds agreed to plead guilty to single reduced charge of disorderly conduct, stipulating to requirements including no trouble with the law for 12 months.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, has filed a motion in the U.S. Court of Appeals which would allow him to enforce a provision in a new state law requiring all abortion clinics to meet the same safety standards as ambulatory surgery centers. A federal judge last week threw out the provision. “Abbott criticized Yeakel in his motion to the appellate court, saying the district judge ‘failed even to mention (much less follow) precedent’ from the appellate court and U.S. Supreme Court,” reports the Houston Chronicle.

Michigan’s Republican AG Bill Schuette has joined with Gov. Rick Snyder to remind Saginaw voters state law takes precedence over a proposed city ordinance decriminalizing marijuana. Medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, but recreational use or possession is still a criminal offense.

Iowa GOP attorney general candidate Adam Gregg has received the endorsement of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry.

Tags: Wisconsin , Texas , Michigan , Iowa

Morning AG Roundup


Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is leading his Democrat opponent, Mark Trotten, 40 to 34 percent a newly released poll shows.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s office is being investigated for the management of grant money distributed from of the Crime Victim Assistance Division.

Texas GOP candidate Ken Paxton, running to fill the AG seat vacated by Greg Abbott, has racked up another significant law enforcement endorsement.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is far outpacing his challenger, Democrat David Pepper, maintaining a 29-point lead according to internal polling from the Ohio GOP.

A rundown of the primary win challenger Mark Brnovich pulled out over current GOP Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne notes that despite outspending Brnovich, the charges against Horne and investigations into alleged misconduct proved too much for him to hang on.

John Cahill, GOP challenger to sitting New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, blasted his opponent yesterday for accepting campaign contributions from law firms currently under investigation by the AG’s office.

Tags: Michigan , Iowa , Texas , Ohio , Arizona , New York

Let’s Show Some Compassion at the Border . . . for American Citizens, Too!


From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

Let’s Show Some Compassion at the Border . . . for American Citizens, Too!

Of course:

President Obama is holding off for now on seeking new legal authority to send unaccompanied migrant kids back home faster from the Southern border, following criticism that the administration’s planned changes were too harsh.

The Acela Corridor Establishment’s conventional wisdom is that “comprehensive immigration reform” ought to legalize the 11 million or so in the country illegally. The same crowd now insists any proposal involving sending the kids back to their home countries is insufficiently compassionate.

How about some compassion for the communities currently trying to deal with the tsunami of unattended children? Here’s how the AP describes one stretch of our border in Mission, Texas:

The influx of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has grown so large that it now requires its own transportation system: government buses that spend each night idling on a Texas roadside, awaiting the latest arrivals . . . 

Just since October, the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector has made more than 194,000 arrests, nearly triple that of any other sector. In the first week of June alone, agents in this area south of Mission arrested more than 2,800 people, most from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, making it the highest-volume arrest zone on the entire U.S. border. More than 60 percent were children . . . 

Across the river is a garbage dump and a Reynosa slum that reaches nearly to the bank. Smoke from burning garbage sometimes drifts across the river so thick it’s difficult to see. At the river’s edge, discarded pieces of clothing, orange life vests and deflated inner tubes litter the sand.

A few days earlier, as a reporter in a kayak approached a hairpin bend in the river, a cartel sentry on a bluff 20 feet above the river slammed a magazine into his assault rifle. He asked where the paddler had come from and who gave him permission to be there. A radio squawked at his waist. The cartel controls what crosses the river.

That’s part of why Napoleon Garza doesn’t bring his kids here to fish like he did as a child. Garza recently drove through one of the many gaps in the border wall to cut a tree stump from property owned by his uncle.

“When they built the border wall, everything ended because they left a big old gap right here that so happened to be where our land is,” said Garza, 38, who sells firewood for a living.

How about some compassion for the U.S. Border Patrol personnel trying to humanely deal with a problem they were never trained to address? Suddenly they have to do the job of the Centers for Disease Control as well:

Approximately 40 immigrants in detention at one center in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s San Diego Sector have active cases of scabies, a source tells National Review Online, and they could soon be spreading it to the general public.

A Border Patrol agent who helped process illegal immigrants at the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station on Sunday tells NRO that the 40 immigrants infected with scabies arrived on a plane that landed July 4, carrying about 140 immigrants total.

The agent says the people at FEMA who are responsible for doing the medical screening of the immigrants before they’re transferred to California should be fired. “Management’s more concerned about processing and getting rid of them as quickly as possible than looking at decontamination,” the agent says. “And [the released illegal immigrants] go out in the community, get on the public transportation, go where they need to go, and it could result in another infestation of scabies being spread everywhere.”

But the San Diego Sector was already dealing with a scabies outbreak when the latest batch of illegal immigrants arrived. Two agents at the Brown Field Border Patrol Station developed rashes on July 3 after processing illegal immigrants from Texas, according to a letter obtained by NRO written by Ron Zermeno, health and safety director of National Border Patrol Council Local 1613. Zermeno confirmed the veracity of the letter and the facts contained therein to NRO.

How about a proposal that anybody who wants these kids to stay in the United States has to open their home to them? The loudest Acela Corridor advocates of “comprehensive immigration reform” live their lives far from sustained contact with any actual illegal immigrants. Perhaps there’s an outside chance that they employ some illegal immigrants as gardeners or housekeepers. Perhaps they bus or wait the tables at their favorite restaurants. But they live very far from the problems that mass illegal immigration brings. They certainly don’t face downward pressure on wages from illegal immigrants getting paid under the table. They don’t encounter gangs. They live far from the violence and their only encounter with a drug cartel is a secretive encounter with their smuggled product.

Here’s another proposal: If Obama gets the $2 billion he wants to build the infrastructure to process these illegal immigrants, the holding facilities have to be built in places like Hyde Park in Chicago, the Upper West Side in Manhattan, Billionaire’s Row in San Francisco and Marin County in California, Burlington, Vermont . . . 

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Texas , Border Security , Barack Obama

Rick Perry Doesn’t Believe Obama ‘Particularly Cares Whether Border Is Secure’


Texas governor Rick Perry said on Sunday that Obama-administration immigration authorities are “either inept or don’t care” about the crisis of unaccompanied minor illegal immigrants.

In a combative exchange with host Martha Raddatz on ABC’s This Week, Perry said border guards are stretched too thin in the Lone Star State, and he cited the administration’s “catch-and-release policies” for driving a nearly threefold increase in the number of Central American children arriving at the border without adult guardians.

“What has to be addressed is the security of the border,” Perry said. “You know that; I know that; the president of the United States knows that. I don’t believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure. And that’s the reason there’s been this lack of effort, this lack of focus, this lack of resources.”

Raddatz argued that President Obama is “telling people not to come,” and she blamed a 2008 law signed by former president George W. Bush for the skyrocketing rate of illegal immigration by Central American minors in the last two years. That law governs treatment of illegal arrivals from non-contiguous countries.

“The president has sent powerful messages, time after time, by his policies, by nuances, that it is okay to come to the United States, and you can come across and you will be accepted in open arms,” Perry, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate and potential 2016 hopeful, responded.

Raddatz then accused Perry of positing a “conspiracy” to bring illegals into the United States, but Perry stood his ground, pointing out that he has been warning the administration since 2010 about the potential for a surge and sent Obama a letter about the specific issue of unaccompanied minors in May 2012 — to which the administration never responded.

“I have to believe, that when you do not respond in any way, that you are either inept or you have some ulterior motive that you’re functioning from,” Perry said.

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Texas , Rick Perry , Sunday Shows July 6 2014

What You Missed at TXOnline, Part One


From the Morning Jolt, arriving in e-mailboxes moments ago…

What You Missed at TXOnline, Part One

This weekend, Americans for Prosperity hosted the “TXOnline” conference, and they were kind enough to invite me and a lot of my favorite bloggers, podcasters, Tweeters, and other denizens from the conservative media world’s Island of Misfit Toys. Before we go any further, thanks so much to Kemberlee Kaye and her team for putting it together.

Dana Loesch kicked off the festivities by contending that the tea parties are dead, but not in the sense that the gloating media usually does. She suggested the Tea Party’s original form is dead, or ought to be, because they were a catalyst, spurring people to pay much closer attention to local government — sheriff’s races, town and city councils, etc. The fact that the tea parties aren’t in the rallies-and-town-halls mode of 2010 is natural, because a catalyst can’t go on forever. “The Sons of Liberty dumping tea in the harbor wasn’t designed to be a long-lasting movement.”

The panel on writing about policy featured Guy Benson of TownhallWilliam Upton of Americans for Tax Reform, and Avik Roy, who you know from NRO and Forbes. I realize Avik Roy’s role in the conservative movement for the past year can be summarized like this:

[Obama administration announces some sudden change to Obamacare]

Most of us: This is terrible! This change is ridiculous! They’re changing this law every five minutes! By making this change, you’re . . . you’re . . . it’s going to…

[We log online, go to check what Avik Roy has written on the subject, find a torrent of statistics, data, anecdotes and examples]

Most of us: Ah-ha! Just as I thought! This is a terrible change because [quotes Avik]!

On a panel on the state of First Amendment rights, the Franklin Center’s Erik Telford dismissed the ridiculous notion that legal protections for journalists should only apply to “official” journalists, and not bloggers and others who aren’t part of larger organizations: “In Iran, they pick the three people who are allowed to run for president. We don’t get to elect our reporters and journalists who ask questions on our behalf. I don’t think the government should get to pick who has the responsibility hold them accountable.”

Melissa Clouthier and our Charlie Cooke, among others, launched a fascinating discussion of whether the conservative movement has too eagerly embraced scalp-hunting of liberals by using their own standards of political correctness against them — think of Alec Baldwin, or Martin Bashir, or any other time a prominent Democrat finds themselves in trouble with their liberal brethren over a controversial statement. The room seemed pretty divided on that; Charlie argued that we ought to stand for an America where the First Amendment means something, where individuals can speak one’s mind without retaliatory economic threats and efforts to get someone fired.

I pretty much agree with Charlie, but I think — and hope — there’s a difference between “this person said something I disagree with, and I denounce the statement” (or the person!) and “you must fire this person for making that statement.” (Ahem.)   But one reason people think and express appalling ideas is that they’re largely oblivious to how much others are appalled by those ideas. If you walk around in circles where it’s perfectly okay to say the sort of thing that Martin Bashir said about Sarah Palin . . . once you say it for public consumption, everybody’s got the right to react, and the negative reaction is designed to discourage further statements in that vein.

Fingers Malloy and Thomas LaDuke of FTR Radio did a presentation on podcasting, and offered a positive thought on the future of radio — as you probably know, the talk-radio audience is aging rapidly. As Internet radio gets more common — after all, you can surf the web on your phone in your car — people aren’t going to care whether your show is broadcast on the Internet or on radio. In terms of sound quality, Internet podcasts are increasingly on par with regular terrestrial radio.

I spoke on a panel on polling and data analysis, moderated by PJ Media’s Bryan Preston, the Tarrance Group’s Logan DobsonDan McLaughlin — whose head is not, in fact, a baseball, as his avatar would suggest. My co-panelists expertly dissected what they look for when evaluating a poll — sample size, timing, wording of questions and so on; I noted how much polls are used to tell stories and stir a particular emotional response in the intended audience — oftentimes, to boost confidence in one side and dispirit the other.

On a panel discussion about how to make stories, arguments, and other concepts “share-able” — i.e., likely to go viral on social media, Jon Gabriel offered this stunning statistic: “A YouTube video has to make an impression in the first two seconds.”

The most contentious and most interesting panel was entitled “Culture Is Upstream of Politics.” Larry O’Connor began by noting that while we mocked President Obama for appearing on wacky morning shows such as Miami’s The Pimp with the Limp, that’s where the voters are.

Bill Whittle said the inevitable and discomfiting conclusion was that Barack Obama spoke a language to Americans that Mitt Romney didn’t, and thus, by this standard, Barack Obama was in fact more “American” than Romney was. He contended that the vast majority of Obama voters, particularly the young ones, “don’t sit through Obama speeches from start to finish. But Lady Gaga, George Clooney, Katy Perry everybody that they do watch votes for Obama — it saves them the step of having to think things through for themselves.”

Emily Zanotti objected. “People between 18 and 35 aren’t political idiots. We don’t just vote a certain way because celebrities do.”

Noah Rothman, who’s joining that web site Warmer-than-Warm Air, noted that with increasing frequency, Democrats and their allies prefer to shift the conversation to cultural topics and the culture wars. (This may reflect the fact that the economy continues to stink and the world beyond our borders looks increasingly unstable.)

The Democrats’ approach in the culture wars is to tell groups — particularly minorities, women and young people, “the Republicans/conservatives hate you” and they latch onto anyone they can use as an example — regardless of whether or not that person is actually a Republican or outspoken conservative: rancher Cliven Bundy, Clippers owner Donald Sterling, TV chef Paula Deen, former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich. This is cynical and divisive, but it is also effective.

Clearly the catalyst for much of the panel’s debate was the bold, uncompromising viewpoints of Matt Walsh, a fascinating guy with strong opinions on everything from divorce to the indisputable menace of people who leave their shopping carts in the middle of the supermarket parking lot. The unexpected directions of this conversation may warrant a separate discussion in a future Morning Jolt. A key takeaway is that conservatives and Republicans usually have two simultaneous goals, and those goals sometimes clash. One goal is to stand for “the Truth”, or a particular viewpoint of what constitutes a good life well lived. The other is to persuade people to vote for their candidates. Oftentimes there’s a tension between the two priorities and sometimes they’re in all-out conflict. We want people to minimize their dependency on government assistance . . . but we have to persuade “the 47 percent” that we don’t look down on them and that they ought to vote for our guys.

After Walsh’s comment that pop culture was frivolous, our Kevin Williamson responded that “pop culture is only frivolous in that it runs the world.”

In tomorrow’s Jolt, I’ll briefly cover the discussion of whether Texas could become a swing state and the unparalleled, hysterical whirling dervish of entertainment chaos known as “Tracked and Targeted” — as well as a bunch of other folks from the Island of Misfit Toys you probably ought to follow on Twitter.

Tags: Something Lighter , Tea Parties , Texas

Meet Larry Smith, Aspiring Republican Congressman from Texas


Texas’s 34th congressional district is a new one, created in the southeastern corner of the state after the 2010 census, and includes Gonzales, Dewitt, Goliad, Bee, San Patricio, Jim Wells, Kleberg, Kenedy, Willacy, Cameron, and Hidalgo counties. It goes around, but does not include, Corpus Christi, and it scores a D+3 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index. Democrat Filemon Vela currently represents the district, and census data indicates the district is 82 percent Hispanic.

Republicans do have a candidate on the ballot (the filing deadline was December 9), Larry Smith, a 37-year-old Army veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Smith says he has put about 3,700 miles on his truck as he traversed the district. Candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives in Texas have the option of collecting 500 signatures or paying $3,125 to qualify for the ballot; Smith said collecting the signatures was an important step to symbolize fiscal responsibility, telling the Brownsville Herald, “You don’t just dump $3,000 on bureaucracy.”

Smith, left, with Greg Abbott, the attorney general of Texas and a candidate for governor this year.

Smith is guaranteed to face a tough task in the fundraising battle in 2014, as incumbent Democrat Vela’s personal wealth is estimated to be between $1.2 million and $15 million.

Tags: Filemon Vela , Larry Smith , Texas

An Orwellian Fundraising E-Mail for Wendy Davis


Check out this fundraising e-mail from San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, a rising star in Democratic circles, touting gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis:

Friend –

I just had a great meeting with my friend Wendy Davis here in San Antonio.

We talked about job creation and economic empowerment for all Texans — and I left reminded of her extraordinary determination to make Texas even better than it already is.

If you caught Wendy’s announcement speech last week, you saw why she’s been able to inspire so many people, both here in Texas and across the country. I’m going to do everything I can between now and next November to make sure she gets to the Governor’s Mansion.

Show Senator Davis she’s not taking on this challenge alone — add your name to say you’re with Wendy for governor in 2014.

Wendy is fearless.

She overcame a background of poverty to put herself through Harvard law school.

She once stood for hours to filibuster a bill that would have resulted in billions of dollars in cuts to public education for our kids.

She’s a proven winner who brings Texans together — elected twice in a swing district that’s considered a microcosm of Texas, where Mitt Romney won easily last November. And she knows that bread-and-butter issues like public education and transportation infrastructure are essential to keep our vibrant economy going strong.

That’s who Wendy Davis is — and that’s why she can win next fall.

Let’s rally around her now and kick off this campaign with a strong show of support.

Join me and say you’re with Wendy:

In this together,


Castro (or the staffer who wrote this) is just flat-out lying.  Davis made a one-hour-and-fifteen minute filibuster in 2011 about public education spending. The only time she stood for “hours” was in her 2013 filibuster to stop a bill that would ”ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require abortion clinics to meet the same standards that hospital-style surgical centers do, and mandate that a doctor who performs abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.”

The Castro e-mail is attempting to blur the lines between the two filibusters, perhaps hoping they can fool people that the more recent and high-profile filibuster wasn’t really about late-term abortions but about education.

In fact, you’ll notice the word “abortion” doesn’t appear at all in Castro’s e-mail, nor does the term “choice.”

Why would Castro (or his staffer) lie about this?

Above: San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro; state legislator, late-term abortion advocate, and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis; the mayor’s twin brother, congressman, and stunt double, Joaquín Castro.

Tags: Wendy Davis , Texas , Julian Castro

Wendy Davis, the Ned Lamont of 2014


Wendy Davis, the Texas Democratic state legislator who engaged in a filibuster to preserve late-term abortions, is reportedly running for governor.

Republicans should be elated at this development. The Cook Partisan Voting Index scores Texas as R+10, and Davis’s bid will inevitably be defined by her trademark stance. A University of Texas poll found 62 percent said they would support “prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks based on the argument that a fetus can feel pain at that point,” and that same percentage said they support “prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks.”

Yet her status as a heroine to the pro-late-term-abortion Democratic-party grassroots will ensure that she will get a small fortune in donations, money that could otherwise have been spent in more competitive races. She’ll also probably get a lot of national press coverage.

She could be this cycle’s Ned Lamont — the liberal anti-war challenger to Senator Joe Lieberman in Connecticut in 2006. Lamont was a hero to the anti-war Democratic grassroots — Markos Moulitsas appeared in a commercial for him.

Markos Moulitsas, peering in the window of Ned Lamont’s house in one of the odder ads of the 2006 cycle.

Lamont won the Democratic primary . . . only to lose to Lieberman, running as an independent, in November. A loud but small minority of the electorate at large fell in love with him, only to find that the voters as a whole didn’t agree.

Of course, Ned Lamont spent $16 million of his own fortune on that Senate bid, and collected about $3 million from donations. Davis will require a lot more help from the DGA and Democratic 527s.

Lamont ran for govenror a few years later and lost in the Democratic primary; he is currently teaching at Central Connecticut State University.

Tags: Wendy Davis , Ned Lamont , Texas , Abortion

Getting Out the Vote . . . Everywhere


The Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt features a brief look at the Inauguration hoopla, some ominous developments in Mali and Algeria in the war on terror, and then this continuing discussion of how Republicans ought to tinker with new get-out-the-vote ideas and efforts in the races of 2013:

The Importance of Getting Out the Vote in Safe Precincts

The opening section of yesterday’s Jolt was urging Republicans to experiment with getting out the vote in the special elections coming up this year; with most of the races in districts that lean heavily to one party or the other, it’s unlikely any botched experiment would blow a 50-50 race. (If you didn’t receive it, you can read it on Campaign Spot here.)

In response, Morning Jolt reader John E. wrote in:

Appreciated your article today. It brought to mind something I observed in the Presidential election in my neck of the woods. My “neck of the woods” is a county in the Alabama-like Florida Panhandle. John McCain took 72% here and Mitt Romney got 75%. And yet, in 2012, the Obama people had an office in our small town (I think it was donated space), and there was an identifiable presence with signs, bumper stickers and such. In other words, the Obama supporters did not throw up their hands and ignore this area, even though they knew it was hopeless here. Still, their efforts may have squeezed out a few more votes for their candidate. And if you multiply that over several counties in Dixie-ish north Florida, well, you know the state was close and every vote counted.

Indeed; 74,309 votes, or one percentage point, in Florida.

One of the hot political books of last year was Sasha Issenberg’s The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns. The book alternated between fascinating anecdotes and a tough slog for me, as if Issenberg really wanted to tell a dramatic story about a punch of political scientists reviewing tables of data and trying to find differences of one or two percent in turnout. But just as if you’re rolling your eyes at another description of a data-crunching poli-sci geek as some convention-defying upstart, rebelling against the system as defiantly as Marlon Brando in The Wild One, you come across some bit of campaign experimentation that you think future campaigns ought to study.

In a chapter about Rick Perry’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Issenberg writes that the campaign agreed to randomize the schedule of visits, to see if there was some measurable impact from each campaign stop. They began the campaign at Texas Tech’s pavilion in Lubbock and then moved on to Addison outside Dallas, where he visited a Texas Instruments plant under construction, then on to Tyler and Beaumont, and so on.

When [data-researching academic and Perry campaign consultant Daron] Shaw reviewed the local media, he saw that Perry’s physical presence had a remarkable ability to drive coverage. In the twelve media markets Perry visited, he earned a report on the evening TV news in nine of them and a story in the next morning’s newspaper in all twelve. And unlike the stories produced by the Austin bureaus of the big Texas papers, which Perry’s aides often felt were unfair to their boss, the local coverage of his trips was almost exclusively positive. When Shaw coded the stories in all twelve markets on a five point scale on how good they made Perry look, they found that the campaign stop warmed the tone of the coverage in all but one. In the eight control markets Perry didn’t visit, the governor was barely covered in the media during the same period.

Shaw could tell that Perry was boosted by the warm reception he got on the road. Contributions went up in the cities that he visited, along with the number of new volunteers. Across the twelve markets, Perry’s approval rating went up from 41 to 46 percent, with his unfavorable number dropping slightly. While Perry gained four points in the four-way horse race, his lead over Chris Bell, the likely Democratic nominee, remained steady, though, each of them appearing to benefit from voters abandoning the two independent candidates. Shaw assumed, sensibly, that this meant that Perry’s presence energized not only Republicans but Democrats, too. When Shaw went back the following week, however, Perry’s lead hadn’t evaporated the way the TV-aided boost had. He held on to four points he had gained.

Obviously, an incumbent governor making a campaign stop is going to attract more attention than a little-known House candidate. But the observation that television advertising’s impact tends to dissipate quickly makes sense, and raises the question if all of that television advertising in spring and summer did much good for the campaigns last year.

If I were a Republican running in Illinois’s second congressional district, South Carolina’s first district, or Missouri’s eighth district in the coming months, I would have campaign “offices” — no matter the size, no matter the demographics of the surrounding neighborhood — in as many communities as possible, and I’d be attending every event down to the opening of an envelope, all over the district. (First step: get the candidate to attend every branch-office opening and invite the local media, all the way down to the local Patch reporters. And order a pizza or two.)

Tags: Campaign Advertising , Campaigns , Florida , Rick Perry , Texas

Will Liberals Learn to Love Ricardo Sanchez?


Democrats think they have a candidate who can win Texas’ open Senate seat: Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

Democrats appear to have recruited retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to run for the U.S. Senate in Texas, setting the stage for the party to field a well-known candidate in the 2012 race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a Democrat, confirmed that Democratic Senate campaign chief Patty Murray, D-Wash., was referring to Sanchez on Thursday when she said Democrats were close to announcing a candidate in Texas.

Sanchez, reached by phone at his San Antonio home, asked where the reports of a Senate run came from and then said, “I can neither confirm nor deny.”

Sanchez, the former top military commander in Iraq who was left under a cloud from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, would not discuss the Senate race.

As far as your usual Senate candidates go, Sanchez will indeed have a more interesting life story and resume: rising from humble roots, one of the top ROTC students in the nation, platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne, led his mechanized brigade to Basra in Desert Storm, director of operations of Southern Command, and of course, commander of Coalition Ground Forces in Iraq. While he led the military effort, Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed and Saddam Hussein was captured.

But sooner or later, Sanchez will have to take stands on the usual domestic, economic, and social issues in what remains a very conservative state, where Democrats haven’t won a statewide race in seventeen years. So Sanchez will either become something akin to Zell Miller, a Democrat who is apostate on so many issues that his own party’s grassroots outside the state can’t stand him (and conservatives make him their favorite member of the opposition), or he’ll have to try to sell liberalism in Texas — in a year when the top of the ticket is Barack Obama, no less. Already, he is emphasizing that he’s going to be more to the right than the average Democrat:

“I would describe myself as during my military career as supporting the president and the Constitution,” Sanchez said. “After the military, I decided that socially, I’m a progressive, a fiscal conservative and a strong supporter, obviously, of national defense.”

Then, of course, there’s Abu Gharib. As Beltway Whispers notes at Red State, some of the Democratic senators who are hailing him as a candidate now were among those furiously denouncing him during the prison abuse scandal:

Senator Patty Murray, who steers the Democrats’ Senate campaign arm and vaguely teased reporters earlier this week of a top Texas recruit, said in 2004 that all those responsible for Abu Ghraib — no matter where they fell in the chain of command — must be held to account for their actions.

“These actions are a disservice to the thousands of American soldiers in the region who serve us honorably each and every day, and, sadly, are likely to make their efforts to calm a troubled region even harder,” Murray said of the controversy.

When former President George Bush tapped then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales to fill the nation’s top law enforcement post, Murray joined Senator Maria Cantwell in opposing the nomination over his green-lighting of Sanchez’s interrogation techniques.

In a 2004 statement, Senator Patrick Leahy accused Sanchez of authorizing “the use of techniques that were contrary to both U.S. military manuals but also international law.” “Given this incredible overstepping of bounds, I find it incredible that the reports generated thus far have not recommended punishment of any kind for high-level officials,” he added.

Of course, hypocrisy comes as easily and naturally to the likes of Leahy as breathing, and it seems unlikely that Republicans would try to use the Abu Ghraib issue against Sanchez in a Senate election. (However, Sanchez did call for a “Truth Commission” to investigate interrogation tactics under the Bush administration, a stance that may not play well in the Lone Star State.)

However, Sanchez probably will have a tougher time getting donations and support from the liberal grassroots – and it’s not unthinkable that some progressive Democrat might jump in, lest the party’s face in Texas be the man they hold responsible in part for a terrible national scandal. At Daily Kos, Sanchez is described as “complicit in one of the worst abuses in recent US military history, and worse, was part of an effort to sweep it under the carpet.” Also, ThinkProgress accuses him of lying to Congress; they write, “Sanchez himself wrote and signed a 2003 memo that included specific interrogation tactics approved for use despite noting that they may violate the Geneva Conventions. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sanchez denied signing off on these interrogation methods.”

Tags: Ricardo Sanchez , Texas

A Texas Exodus From the Democratic Party: Call It the ‘Texodus’


Brian Preston sends along word: “In what is believed to be one of the largest numbers of officeholders to change party affiliation in Texas, Lamar County GOP Chairman John Kruntorad and State Representative Erwin Cain announced today that 9 local elected Democrats have joined the Republican Party.”

To the credit of Texas Democrats, they still have dozens and dozens of local lawmakers who haven’t flipped parties yet.

Tags: Texas

Hutchison Retires; Biennial Democrat Comeback Hype Begins Anew


Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchison announced she will not seek reelection. This means that roughly half the Republicans in elected office in Texas will begin thinking about running for her seat.

Inevitably, the Democratic contenders and ultimate nominee will receive national coverage, and we will hear another two years’ worth of stories of “the comeback of the Texas Democrats.” Every two years since George W. Bush beat Ann Richards in 1994, we have heard about the imminent comeback of Texas Democrats; they’re always coming back, but never seem to arrive.

2010: Texas Democrats are raking in funds for ‘10 elections

2008: Texas Democrats believe time’s right for a comeback

2006: Texas Democrats say 2006 could be the year

2004: Texas Democrats feel ready for comeback

Is it possible a good Democratic candidate could beat a lousy Republican one? Sure. But it will be supremely difficult with Obama at the top of the ticket.

Tags: Barack Obama , Kay Bailey Hutchison , Texas

A Texas Party-Flipper to Aim for Congress?


Keeping an eye on the early talk about redistricting in Texas, which is slated to gain four congressional seats:

South Texas should pick up a congressional seat from the four Texas gained during apportionment, but where and how the new South Texas district will be drawn is hard to forecast.

Only U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa’s congressional seat is currently anchored in the Valley. Expect the Valley to anchor another seat with either U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, or Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, pushed out to make way for a new district when the courts approve the final maps.

Republicans in control of the Legislature will decide how the lines are drawn, meaning they’ll want to create a favorable South Texas district that is at least a tossup for a GOP candidate. However, any new district must pass muster of the Federal Voting Rights Act and reflect population gains among Hispanics…

Political observers speculate that the Republican Party will draw a district favorable for state Rep. Aaron Peña, who switched to the GOP last month to give it a supermajority in the state House. A new conservative district for Peña could contain affluent neighborhoods in Sharyland or north McAllen, similar to the GOP-friendly district drawn by the Hidalgo County Republican Party in the last redistricting process that Gonzales has managed to hold despite attempts to unseat her.

Peña, who sits on the redistricting committee, said statewide growth makes redistricting a high-stakes affair.

“Redistricting is always contentious,” Peña said. “I fully expect that regardless of the plan that comes out, the divisions will be appealed to the court system. We’ll eventually have a plan people can run under, but it will take a lot of work.”

Tags: Aaron Pena , Texas

NRCC Targets Edwards, Lassa


TX-17: Embattled Blue Dog Rep. Chet Edwards (D) has been desperately trying to distance himself from the Obama/Pelosi agenda. Well, he supported that agenda more than 90 percent of the time, and the NRCC isn’t going to let voters forget that:

WI-7: Democrat Julie Lassa doesn’t have a national record to defend, but the NRCC is hitting her hard over her record in the Wisconsin state legislature, including her support for a Canadian-style government health-care system, in this new ad:

Tags: Texas , Wisconsin


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