Politics

Lt. Governor Race
6:05 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Meet The Candidates: Todd Staples

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is running for the GOP nomination for Lt. Governor.
Tamir Kalifa, Texas Tribune

Growing up in rural East Texas, Todd Staples says he didn’t think much about politics until a fateful telephone call from a former high school teacher. There was ‘a mess’ in the local city council: would Staples consider making a bid for local office? At first he declined. Then there was silence on the line. “I’ll never forget the words he spoke to me,” Staples says. “He said, ‘we gave to you, and it’s time for you to give back’.”

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Politics
7:59 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Davis Wins Round of Fundraising But Abbott Has More Cash Overall

Democrat Wendy Davis won the latest money battle in the race for Texas Governor. But her likely Republican opponent Greg Abbott is still winning the larger war for campaign cash.

Monday at midnight is the deadline for candidates to tell the Texas Ethics Commission how much they raised in the preceding 30 days.

Davis and a Democratic organization supporting her, the Texas Victory Committee,  raised $2.85 million in the last month.  That was more than Abbott's $2.45 million

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Politics
7:29 am
Mon February 24, 2014

UT/TT Poll: Abbott Holds 11-Point Lead Over Davis

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 22, 2012. Abbott leads presumptive rival Wendy Davis in a new Tribune poll.
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.

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Lt. Governor Race
5:03 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Meet the Candidate: Jerry Patterson

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor.
Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

Who wants to be "number two"?  LBJ was famously warned that the job of vice president’s not worth a warm bucket of spit. (Or something like that.)

But it’s a different thing being "number two" in Texas. Indeed the Lieutenant Governor in Texas wields enormous power in steering legislative policymaking. Right now four prominent Republicans are duking it out for the party’s nomination, including incumbent David Dewhurst, State Sen. Dan Patrick, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, and – in the first of our conversations with the candidates in the major statewide races – Jerry Patterson, who’s hoping to trade his current job as Land Commissioner for a new role as Lt. Governor.

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Politics
5:49 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Why Did Jerry Patterson Hire a Private Eye to Snoop on Dan Patrick? Two Words: Opposition Research

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and state Sen. Dan Patrick, who are both running in the 2014 Republican primary for lieutenant governor
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

State Senator and Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate Dan Patrick may have taken a political hit this week, when a story broke accusing him of employing an undocumented worker in the 1980s. 

The story was reported by The Dallas Morning News and KTRK Houston ABC, but the two got wind of the story when another Lt. Governor candidate, Jerry Patterson, gave them the information - which he hired a private decective to gather .

It's called opposition research. And it's an age-old political tactic that often provides ammunition to candidates trying to gain the upper-hand against an opponent.

His mother may not like to hear this, but Jason Stanford is an opposition researcher.

"Oh God, yes, my mom tells people I'm a used car dealer," Stanford jokes.

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Politics
5:00 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Early Voting in Texas Primaries Starts Today. Here's What You Need to Know

The Texas Attorney General wants to enforce a Voter ID law passed last year; the Department of Justice has yet to "preclear" the measure.
Photo by KUT News

Starting today, you can vote early in this year's party primaries, which will determine which candidates goes on the general election in November. The actual Election Day is March 4.

A state law that went into effect last year requires Texans to have a form of valid photo identification to cast a ballot. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir hopes to alleviate any kind of worries that voters may have about the requirement.

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Politics
2:58 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

With Senate's OK, Debt Limit Bill Will Head To White House

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 3:22 pm

The Senate has voted to extend the federal debt limit, giving final congressional approval to a bill that is meant to cover the government's finances into 2015. The measure passed on a 55-43 vote.

But the most dramatic phase of the legislation's passage came just before the final tally, when it had to get past a cloture vote. Politico says, "Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) demanded the 60-vote threshold on the debt hike."

As The Hill reports:

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Politics
3:28 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Davis Takes Friendly Fire on Gun Issue

State Sen. Wendy Davis announces her campaign for governor in front of a crowd of supporters in Haltom City on Oct. 3, 2013.
Laura Buckman Texas Tribune

State Sen. Wendy Davis has taken plenty of shots from conservatives for proposing new gun restrictions, but on Thursday she faced blowback from liberals and fellow Democrats over gun rights. 

Sparking the fallout: Davis’ embrace of so-called open-carry laws, which would allow Texans to pack pistols on their hips. Under current law, people licensed to carry handguns must keep them concealed.

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Politics
9:02 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Abbott Releases Comprehensive Border Security Plan

Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott wants to increase security funding across a wide range of programs.
Gage Skidmore, Texas Tribune

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the presumptive GOP nominee for governor, laid out an extensive security and safety plan Tuesday in Dallas as part of his campaign.

In his speech, Abbott called it the Keep Texans Safe plan. It includes more enforcement of human trafficking laws, and a call to follow Georgia's lead in creating a program to help people who have been rescued from human trafficking rings.

"I want Texas to adopt a comprehensive care plan to provide victim services for sexually exploited minors," Abbott said.

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Politics
6:00 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Name Calling Defines Early Days of Texas Governor's Race

Sen. Wendy Davis and Attorney General Greg Abbott could be tied to name calling, whether they agree or not.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera & Bob Daemmrich via Texas Tribune

There’s been just a bit of name calling in the Texas Governor’s race – with much of it coming from conservatives and Greg Abbott supporters  directed at Wendy Davis. But what’s the role of the candidate to respond to those kind of attacks?

Name calling isn't really anything new in political campaigns. Even if the candidates don't necessary approve of the language. So if it's expected, maybe the real question isn't whether or not it should happen in the first place, but how a campaign should respond.

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Voting
12:59 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Up to 37,000 Travis County Voters Could Lack Required ID

Students outside of the Flawn Academic Center. Voter ID requirements and incorrect addresses could potentially keep tens of thousands of Travis County citizens from voting.
Credit Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Austin is just over a month away from March primaries – and Monday, Feb. 3 is the final day to register to vote.

Some Texans will also need to get their IDs in order. Following a 2013 Supreme Court decision, a state issued drivers license or one of several approved documents is required to cast a ballot at Texas polling stations. (See more information on acceptable documents.)

Tax Assessor/Collector Bruce Elfant says the new law could affect voters in Travis County.

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Governor's Race
10:54 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Wendy Davis' Daughters Counter Claims Mom Embellished Her Life Story

Wendy Davis with her daughters, Amber (left), and Dru, when she announced she was running for governor.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera Texas Tribune

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 4:20 pm

The campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has released letters from her two adult daughters who say they want to correct “untrue things” and “ludicrous comments” about their mother.

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Politics
12:28 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Democrat Celia Israel Wins HD 50 Runoff

Celia Israel taking celebratory pictures with supporters Tuesday night in Austin.
Ben Philpott, KUT News

Voters in northeast Travis County have a new state representative. Democrat Celia Israel won last night’s special election runoff to fill out the remainder of former state Rep Mark Strama’s term.

Israel, a Democratic activist, had finished 2nd in the November special election. But while she lost by about 8 percentage points to Republican Mike VanDeWalle, the three Democrats running in that election took nearly 60 percent of the vote combined. And as the votes came in last night, once again 60 percent of the district picked a Democrat.

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Politics
4:13 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Few Differences, Plenty of Attacks at GOP Lt. Governor's Debate

Clockwise, the four GOP Candidates for Lt. Gov.: incumbent David Dewhurst, Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples; Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson; and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

The four Republican candidates for Texas Lieutenant Governor met last night in a debate broadcast across the state. And, as it’s been through the months leading up to the March primaries, the hour-long event showed few differences among the candidates when it came to policy. But that didn’t stop them from attacking each other throughout the night.

As a three-term incumbent, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst has been the main punching bag of his three challengers throughout the campaign. With each highlighting what they consider missteps by Dewhurst as reason to give someone else a chance at the job.

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Politics
2:46 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Obama's State Of The Union, Playing On A Second Screen Near You

A screen grab from last year's "enhanced State of the Union," which is also available Tuesday on WhiteHouse.gov.
Nathan Yau/Flowing Data

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 4:58 pm

Viewership is declining. Washington seems increasingly dysfunctional and irrelevant to the daily lives of Americans. The presidency isn't the bully pulpit it used to be.

In an age of social media and divided audiences, the annual, constitutionally mandated State of the Union speech is beginning to look like a stuffy relic from a bygone era.

It's an institution in need of a makeover, which is precisely what the White House intends to do Tuesday night.

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