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.

LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas

The role sports has played in America's civil rights struggle, especially with black athletes, has been well documented.

For many the movement started with Jackie Robinson crossing the color line in baseball. But two other athletes were in Austin Wednesday to share their perspectives at the LBJ Library's Civil Rights Summit.

Jim Brown is often called the greatest running back in the history of pro football. But he was never the most popular player. He told the crowd in Austin he attributes that to his role in pushing for civil rights and equality for himself and other black athletes.

Among the alleged crimes committed by Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the heart of the tax agency's targeting of conservative groups: singling out Crossroads GPS, Karl Rove's nonprofit group that spent $165 million in the last election attacking Democrats and helping Republicans.

That's according to House Republicans pushing criminal charges against Lerner.

The House Ways and Means Committee met in closed-door session Wednesday to discuss three specific violations Republicans believe she committed while running the IRS's office that handles tax-exempt groups.

The pay equity issue, which President Obama and Democrats are making a central theme of the 2014 midterm election campaign, is often framed as a women's issue. But Democrats are expecting it will also have crossover appeal to men.

For many men, it's a matter of self-interest: Two-income families are part of a long-term trend, as many families find two paychecks essential to cover the bills in an era of rising prices and stagnant, if not falling, wages.

Mike Lee, KUT

Vanishing salmon and fields trashed by trespassers are the most common agricultural side effects of marijuana growth in California, experts there say. The idea agriculture commissioner candidate Kinky Friedman promotes of a hemp farming utopia brought on by the legalization of marijuana in Texas, they say, might be more pipe dream than reality.

"It is the green thread that weaves its way through all of our lives," Friedman said of marijuana during an interview with The Texas Tribune's Evan Smith. "This is not about long-haired hippies smokin' dope. It is about the future of Texas."


Buc-ee's, the Texas convenience store known for their clean restrooms and beaver mascot, is now the subject of a boycott.

U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, is encouraging a boycott after owners of the business endorsed Republican State Sen. Dan Patrick for Lieutenant Governor.

Castro sent a tweet saying he won't gas up there because Patrick is a "fear mongering immigrant basher:" 

Jim Hogan thanks God for his victory in a statewide Texas primary election on Tuesday. His campaign clearly had little to do with it.

Hogan paid his filing fee and then did essentially nothing else.

"Not being a politician, I didn't want to spend money," he says. "I didn't buy any mailers or yard signs. I think it's a waste to spend a lot of money on these politics."

David Martin Davies, TPR

The results are in for the 2014 Texas Primary Elections. We now know who most of the candidates will be in the November general election, but several statewide races are headed to a runoff on May 27.

We've compiled a list of the top vote earners for the major statewide and Travis County races. The percentage of votes received (as of this writing) is shown next to each candidate's name. Races with an asterisk are heading to a runoff.

KUT News

When Texans – mostly farmers and ranchers – sat down to write the state constitution in the 1800's, they didn’t see the need for an elected Agriculture Commissioner.

That oversight was quickly remedied.

Texas agriculture, crops and cattle are known across the country and around the world. Its "Go Texan" campaign can be seen in grocery stores and TV ads across the state: Why buy vegetables from California, when you can pick from that (noticeably labeled) batch from Texas?

But the office does more than sell the product. It also helps farmers and ranchers successfully grow it. 

Janis Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Last spring, as Republican lawmakers tried to defuse Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis’ 10 hour filibuster on abortion restrictions in Texas, a fellow Senator named Leticia Van de Putte attempted to get the attention of the presiding officer.  

"Mr. President," Van De Putte shouted, "at what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?"

The remark won Van De Putte some attention, all right.  

Bob Daemmrich, flickr.com/thetexastribune

After what are shaping up to be easy primary wins in March for the leading gubernatorial candidates, Republican Greg Abbott starts the general election race for governor with an 11-point lead over Democrat Wendy Davis, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Michael Stravato

Nghi Ho and Al Hoang, the Republicans who are vying to unseat Rep. Hubert Vo, are talking about the usual issues, like abortion. They are also talking about some unlikely topics, like the Communist government in Vietnam, the birthplace of all three candidates running in the southwest Harris County district, which includes most of Alief.

“It shows that a place like Alief has come a long way from what it was when it was first established as a fairly Anglo suburb of Houston,” said Mustafa Tameez, a political consultant for Vo’s first race.

Barbara Bush, 88, is in a hospital in Houston with a respiratory-related issue, according to her husband's office.

She was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital on Monday, a statement from the office of former President George H.W. Bush reads.

The statement says the former first lady "is in great spirits."

Being an incumbent ain't what it used to be.

Texan John Cornyn is the No. 2 man in Senate GOP leadership and by most measures holds high conservative ratings — according to National Journal's rankings, he was the second most conservative senator in the last Congress.

The essence of the budget deal reached by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is better understood by looking at what's missing, rather than what's included in it.

A batch of internal documents recently leaked to The Guardian has revealed new insights into the goals and finances of the secretive group called ALEC. The American Legislative Exchange Council is a group that brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations. Together, they develop model bills that lawmakers introduce and try to pass in their state legislatures.

Any day now, the New Mexico Supreme Court may grant same-sex couples the right to get married.

At this point, such a ruling may not seem like such a big deal. Prior to last year's elections, gays and lesbians had a civil right to marry in only six states. Now, they have it in 16.

"This year represented the true tipping point," says Eric Marcus, author of Making Gay History. "We've reached a moment in history where it's very difficult, if not impossible, to go back."

(We added to the top of this post at 2:08 p.m. ET.)

There was high drama Thursday on the floor of the Senate as Democrats significantly changed the way business in the chamber is done.

In what Republicans cast as a "power grab" but Democrats defended as a way to break gridlock, the Senate's rules were changed to make it much more difficult for a minority of the members to hold up action on key presidential nominees.

What's so great about the U.S. Constitution anyway? Could Washington govern better if it weren't slavishly devoted to a deeply flawed document over 200-years-old?

These are some of the questions that Sanford Levinson asks in "Framed: America's 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Government." The book comes out this month in paperback.

Levinson, a distinguished member of the UT Law faculty, spoke with KUT's David Brown about what can be done to better governing.

The Senate has approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which gives workplace protections to workers and job applicants who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The bill would apply to any private employer that has more than 15 employees; it includes an exemption for religious groups.

The measure adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics that cannot be discriminated against in the workplace passed by a vote of 64-32 — a slightly stronger showing than an earlier vote to move forward on the legislation, which passed 61-30.