Democrats

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas Democrats support immigration reform – so it came as no surprise that the issue arose on at the party's convention of Saturday. But at the start of the day, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins made an unexpected announcement regarding the surge of unaccompanied minors in Texas from Central America:  the county is locating facilities to take in roughly 2,000 unaccompanied minors. 

"We had a lot of the elected officials here, all of whom stand for the proposition that it is the right thing to do to be compassionate to children," Jenkins said, when asked why he made the announcement at the convention. "If [the state] would open up facilities to the federal government and work with them instead of working against them, then we could move these children from cages on the border to compassionate care." The move is expected to take place by late July;  the average stay of children will be about 21 days. After that, the children would be taken to relatives' homes.

Callie Richmond Texas Tribune

Texas Democrats will shine a spotlight on their top-of-the-ticket female candidates as they begin their three-day convention in Dallas Thursday.

In an interview with KERA, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said his party will also contrast its beliefs with those Republicans enshrined in their state platform earlier this month.

Hinojosa said this is the first time Texas has had two women – both state senators – running for office on the top of a party ticket.


annieslist.com

Grace Garcia, the executive director of the Democratic women-in-politics group Annie's List, was killed in a fatal car accident in Waxahachie on Monday, the organization said early Tuesday morning.

"It is with a tremendous sense of loss that we announce the passing of our executive director and leader Grace Garcia, who lost her life in a car accident Monday afternoon," Annie's List board chair Amber Anderson Mostyn said in a statement. 

Garcia came to work for Annie's List after serving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a senior adviser in the Office of the Chief of Protocol. Before working at the State Department, she ran an event management and public affairs firm she founded in 2001.

It was the big news immediately after the 2012 Presidential election: some of Pres. Barack Obama's top campaign generals were on their way to Texas to turn the solidly conservative state into a purple state – and eventually a Democratic stronghold.

Battleground Texas leader Jeremy Bird was grilled on the plan by Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert:

But for every Texas Democrat who got excited about what changes could lie ahead, there's a Republican who wants to make sure that doesn't happen.

flickr.com/stevebott

Update: Mayor Lee Leffingwell announced today that the city won't pursue hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Despite noting that “recent past conventions have injected $150 to $200 million into the [host] cities economies,” Leffingwell cited two hurdles to an Austin convention: facilities and transportation.

Leffingwell told reporters the DNC has very specific operational requests; foremost among that is a facility big enough for convention attendees.

Jack Plunkett/Erika Rich, Texas Tribune

It’s filing time for Texas candidates running in the March party primaries. The gubernatorial frontrunners – Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis – have already filled out their paperwork.

But there’s a big difference between the two candidates in terms of what’s below each of them on the ballot.

Attorney General Abbott leads a very crowded ballot in several statewide race  – including a four-way race for the GOP Lieutenant Governor nomination. And there could be equally contentious fights among Republicans up and down the ballot. There are currently 36 Republicans expected to run in 14 statewide races. 

A Republican Bexar County judge who narrowly won his election in 2010 announced today that he will run next year as a Democrat. 

In a written statement, Judge Carlo Key of San Antonio, who is running for re-election to County Court Position 11 in San Antonio, cited ideological extremism as the reason for his departure from the Republican Party of Texas. 

Jeff Heimsath, KUT News

Update: President Barack Obama will visit Manor New Technology High School this Thursday during his trip to Central Texas. The Associated Press reports he'll also speak at Applied Materials in Austin.

Obama's visit is the first in a series of trips that will push for new models of economic growth. The President will look at which skills are driving America's economy.

The President will be speaking at Manor New Technology High School at 1:05 p.m. and Applied Materials at 4:30 p.m.

The House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that avoids a federal shutdown and keeps the government open through the end of the 2013 fiscal year, which winds up Sept. 30. The Senate approved the same measure Wednesday, so the bill now goes to the president for his signature.

The New York Times characterizes the measure, which passed the House on a 318-109 vote, this way:

Flickr user Fifi LePew, bit.ly/YqObEH

Texas Democrats have been fighting an uphill battle against Republicans for years. The state has been firmly red since 2002. But a new Washington-based group, Battleground Texas, wants to invest tens of millions of dollars to turn Texas blue.

U.S. Department of Defense

Election Day Arrives

The polls are open this morning for the Primary Runoff Election.

Voters will choose party candidates in the U.S. Senate race. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Solicitor General Ted Cruz have been in a bitter struggle to be the Republican nominee. Former state Representative Paul Sadler and Grady Yarbrough, a retired educator, are in a runoff for the Democratic nomination.

Across the state, several U.S. congressional district seats, one state senate seat, several state representative seats and a spot on the Texas Supreme Court are also in the mix.

Democrats are on the path to including an endorsement of same-sex marriage for the first time in their official party platform.

NPR's Ari Shapiro reported Monday that the proposal has made it through an important Democratic committee.

The 15 Democrats who serve on the party's platform drafting committee voted unanimously to endorse same-sex marriage in the party's official agenda, says Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who serves on the committee.

Frank recently married his partner.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for Texas Tribune

Texas Democrats, trying to compete in a state that overwhelmingly favors Republican candidates for executive, legislative and judicial offices, elected their first Hispanic chairman Saturday.

In a reflection of the state’s burgeoning Hispanic growth and the party’s longtime success with Latinos, delegates overwhelmingly elected Gilberto Hinojosa as the next party chairman. He will replace outgoing chairman Boyd Richie, who announced in April 2011 that he would not seek another term after six years on the job.

Hinojosa successfully breathed some life into the sparse crowd on the convention floor with a fiery speech before the delegates cast an overwhelming majority of votes in his favor.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune / Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

A charismatic personality isn't going to end the Texas Democratic Party long electoral drought, three prominent local officeholders said Friday. But bickering Republicans and a renewed effort to build their party and their bench of candidates will help bring Texas Democrats back into statewide office.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Are political conventions necessary?

Texas Democrats are in Houston for their state convention. Texas Republicans are in Fort Worth for the same thing. The Libertarians are meeting this weekend near DFW Airport, and the Green Party is having its convention outside of San Antonio.

It’s actually easier to make the convention case for the Libertarians and the Greens, who use their gatherings to put people on the ballot, because they don’t hold primary elections.

Texas political parties are gathering for the state's party conventions.

The Republicans are meeting in Fort Worth and the Libertarians will meet near the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. The Democrats are in Houston and delegates from the Texas Green Party will head to San Antonio.

Governor Rick Perry is scheduled to address the Republican convention this morning. Texas U.S. Representative Ron Paul will lead a session this afternoon. The convention runs through Sunday and will also feature Rick Santorum and Wisconsin U.S. Representative Paul Ryan.

Photo by Ben Philpott for KUT News

In 1994, five Democrats were elected to statewide offices, including the Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and Comptroller.

Since then, Republicans have managed to shut out Democratic candidates.

That includes four wins in a row for Rick Perry, one as Lieutenant Governor in 1998 and three as Governor. In Perry's case, he's never lost an election, either as a Democrat or as a Republican. But are Perry and the Texas GOP becoming victims of their own success?

Photo by clockwerks http://www.flickr.com/photos/clockwerks/

Democrats are pointing to the consequences of massive state budget cuts as it seeks to undermine the Perry campaign's argument about economic growth in this state.

“Gov. Perry has done incredible damage to education—from kindergarten through high school and from college through graduate school," Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) said in a statement after Perry's announcement.