Politics

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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Winter Weather
10:36 am
Tue January 28, 2014

What Weather Closures Mean for Central Texas' HD 50 Special Election

While extra polling places aren’t being added to offset closed stations at schools, voters can vote at any polling place in the HD 50 special election.
flickr.com/whiteafrican

Republican Mike VanDeWalle and Democrat Celia Israel face off in a special election for District 50 today. 

The seat opened when former HD 50 Rep. Mark Strama, stepped down to take a job with Google Fiber. But some worry that the cold weather will have a negative impact on the election.

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GOP Primary
6:00 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Heading into Texas Primary, Stockman Challenge to Cornyn Barely a Blip

The election battle between Rep. Stockman and Sen. Cornyn never amounted to much.
Gage Skidmore/Texas Tribune

The Tea Party revolution in Texas has led several unknown, outsider candidates to election victory over the last few years, like Texas’ junior senator, Ted Cruz. Many expected the state’s senior senator, John Cornyn, to face a serious Tea Party challenge in the March primary. But with less than two months to go, it doesn’t look like there’s much of a challenge for the two-term senator.

There are seven people running against John Cornyn in the Republican primary. So it’s not like nobody wants him out of office. But it wasn’t until the very last day before the December filing deadline that anyone with any kind of political clout threw their name in the ring. That’s when Congressman Steve Stockman signed up to be the Tea Party champion to take on Cornyn.  

Instantly, political journalists in Texas and across the country got interested in the race.

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Politics
6:34 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Gov. Perry Joins World Leaders in Davos

Gov. Perry at this month's Texas Transportation Forum
Office of the Governor

Governor Rick Perry is in Davos, Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum. The governor is touting Texas economic growth and keeping his own profile high as he considers another run for president.

Appearing on CNBC Wednesday, Governor Perry was asked about a photo of him and Khalid Al-Falih, the CEO of the Saudi state-owned oil company, Aramco, and how hydraulic fracturing is making a Texas a bigger world player in energy production.

“That picture of me and Khalid is a little bit of Aggie gatherdom, if you will," Perry said. "He’s a Class of 1982 from Texas A&M and obviously we did talk about the hydraulic fracturing, and the Saudis are actually looking at some of those techniques themselves.”

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Politics
5:45 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Poll Focuses On Views From A Wide Array Of Latino Americans

Walter Olivares

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 11:14 am

You've probably heard a lot about "the Latino voter" or the way companies are trying to win over "the Latino consumer."

It's a cliché to point out that Latinos, like every other ethnic group, are not monolithic. But let's say it one more time, anyway: Latinos are not monolithic.

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Governor's Race
3:28 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Wendy Davis Responds to Discrepancies in Her Biography

Senator Davis on the State Senate floor during her June 25th filibuster
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, has issued a statement responding to an article released over the weekend that points to inconsistencies in her accounting of her life story.

The article, written by Wayne Slater of The Dallas Morning News, pointed to a couple of details from the story Davis has used during her campaign for Governor: specifically, that Davis was not a divorced mother at 19, but instead 21. Slater also highlights that while Davis initially paid her way through college, her second husband helped pay for her final years at Texas Christian University and Harvard Law School.

Conservatives have jumped on the story, calling Davis a liar. Talk show host Rush Limbaugh called her a "genuine head case" on his program today, saying she had "made stuff up" and would have been "really poor and destitute were it not for a man" – a reference to her second husband, lawyer Jeff Davis.

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Politics
11:17 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Turner's Declaration Could Impact Republican Primaries

Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, after he filed for House Speaker on Jan. 10, 2014
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

State Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, recently announced his candidacy for speaker of the House, an election for which will not be held until 2015.

His timing is more provocative than the candidacy itself, because it could force candidates in the Republican primary for the House to declare their preference for a sitting speaker perceived as a moderate or for an alternative — Turner or someone else — thought to be more conservative. It’s not about the speaker’s race. It’s about those primaries.

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Politics
10:16 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Watch: Obama's NSA Reform Announcement

Obama is expected to announce changes to the NSA after revelations of a massive domestic surveillance program on US citizens and others around the globe. Obama's been fielding critics since the first of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's leaks last June.

You can watch livestream of the announcement below: 

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Politics
8:54 am
Fri January 17, 2014

What You Should Listen For From President Obama's NSA Announcement

President Obama is expected to announce a curtailment of domestic data collection on Jan. 17 at 10 a.m.
Patrick Samansky/AP

President Obama will announce changes this morning to how the National Security Agency does its job. This comes after months of revelations of massive warrantless data gathering on US citizens and others around the globe. Obama's been fielding critics since the first of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's leaks last June.

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Politics
6:50 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

G.P. Bush Prepares to Enter Office as Dewhurst Looks to Life After Politics

Photo mosaic of Lone Star Flag
Texas State Library and Archives

George P. Bush has more than $2.8 million to spend on his campaign for Texas Land Commissioner. His two main challengers, a Republican and a Democrat, have a combined total of around $20,000. 

Democrat John Cook, former Mayor of El Paso, reports raising about $13,000 since June. Republican David Watts's campaign finance filing this week indicates fundraising in the second half of 2013 of about $7,000. 

Dr. Brian Smith is a professor of political science at St. Edward’s University in Austin. He says what the Bush campaign is doing is a tried and true intimidation tactic.

“He’s over-raising money to scare off any potential Republican challenger,” Smith says. “If I’m a Democrat I would be, like, wow, I have to raise $3.3 million just to match him. That’s going to scare me away. If I’m a Republican, I’m going to be like, gosh, he’s got a lot of money. Let him have it.”

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Politics
3:15 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Payday Lenders In the Spotlight, As Industry Becomes an Issue in Texas Governor's Race

A payday lending business in Texas. While some states ban the practice of high-interest short-term lending, Texas' payday lending industry has proliferated in recent years.
Credit James Malone, Texas Tribune

Signs offering promises of “quick cash” can be seen all over Texas. So-called payday lenders offer short-term loans under $700, but those loans have been criticized for interest rates that can climb to 500 percent.

For some customers, taking one on leaves them in a never-ending cycle of debt. It’s controversial, and the practice is actually banned in 12 states.

Recently, it’s become an issue in this year’s governor’s race.

The topic was kicked up after the chairman of the Texas Finance Commission – William White – made comments to the El Paso Times suggesting payday lenders should be able to charge whatever fees they want. Previously unheard of, White’s comments put him in the spotlight among payday loan regulation advocates.

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Politics
2:13 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Report: Regent Didn't Violate Student Privacy Laws

UT Regent Wallace Hall
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

After reviewing University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall's handling of information that may be confidential under federal student privacy laws, outside lawyers for the system have concluded that there was "no credible evidence of a violation of [the state government code] that would warrant a referral for criminal prosecution."

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Politics
9:04 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Davis, Abbott Announce Big Fundraising Figures

Marjorie Kamys Cotera & Bob Daemmrich via Texas Tribune

Democrat Wendy Davis pulled $8.7 million into her gubernatorial campaign coffers in the last half of 2013, and another group committed to her election as governor raised $3.5 million over the same period, the Davis campaign announced Tuesday. Minutes after she announced the combined $12.2 million haul, her expected Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbo

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