Capital Tonight: New groups seek to mobilize women voters

While Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis duke it out on the front lines in the race for governor, two new groups are working behind the scenes to influence the conversation.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how Red State Women and Planned Parenthood Texas Votes will to make their case to voters.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Gov. Rick Perry is making waves in New York once again, challenging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on his home turf while on a job-poaching trip. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to talk about that story and more.

FISCAL HISTORY

Former Houston Mayor Bill White is calling for a change in how we look at government debt and spending. He joined us to discuss his new book, “America’s Fiscal Constitution: Its Triumph and Collapse.”

WASHINGTON UPDATE

Plus, the Supreme Court heard arguments on a landmark media case and handed down an affirmative action ruling with implications here in Texas.

Dewhurst to Patrick: Release your tax returns

In the latest jab in the Republican race for lieutenant governor, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is formally asking opponent Sen. Dan Patrick to release his tax returns. “Dan Patrick has refused to release his tax returns despite numerous requests from the press, as well as public challenges from Todd Staples and Jerry Patterson in the primary,” the campaign said Tuesday.

The request is the latest in a string of attacks on Patrick’s financial past. Last week, Dewhurst came out swinging with a new TV ad, highlighting Patrick’s failed business dealings and bankruptcy filing back in the 1980s. Patrick walked away from about $800,000 in debt after a chain of sports bars he co-owned failed.

Tuesday, Dewhurst campaign spokesman Ryan Hecker said,

“After admitting to pocketing his employees payroll tax withholding and leaving a string of unpaid creditors chasing after assets held in a dizzying number of financial entities, voters are beginning to see the truth about Dan Patrick. David Dewhurst has released full tax returns from 2009-2012, and he is calling on Dan Patrick to provide the same transparency.”

Patrick has defended his financial past, saying he’s never tried to cover up his hardships. “I learned from that. It made me the fiscal conservative that I am because I am 63 today, I was 35 then,” he said in an online interview. 

 

 

UT reacts to Supreme Court ruling in Michigan admissions policy case

The University of Texas is reviewing Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold a Michigan ban to use race as a factor in college admissions.

In a 6-2 ruling, the justices said voters had the right to change their state constitution to prohibit public colleges and universities from considering race as part of the admissions process. The decision reverses a lower court ruling.

Meantime, the University of Texas at Austin is awaiting a ruling from a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel over its own admissions policy. The Supreme Court ruled on the Fisher v. University of Texas case last summer and sent it back down to the appeals court to enable a look at UT’s admissions policy under a more narrow set of standards.

Prospective student Abigail Fisher sued the university after being denied admission. Fisher, who is white, claimed she was the victim of racial discrimination because other, non-white students with lower test scores were admitted.

Reacting to Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling regarding the Michigan case, UT President Bill Powers said that based on its preliminary review, the university does not believe it has any effect on UT’s admissions policy or decisions.

Powers added:

“In today’s ruling, the court recognized that the Schuette case from Michigan was not ‘about the constitutionality, or the merits, of race-conscious admissions policies in higher education.’ The court also reaffirmed that in the case of Fisher versus the University of Texas, the court ‘did not disturb the principle that the consideration of race in admissions is permissible, provided that certain conditions are met.’ UT Austin’s admissions policy meets those conditions and we are awaiting a ruling from a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel. UT Austin uses race as one of many factors in our holistic review of applicants. Assembling a diverse student body is vital to the education of all students on campus and helps train the future leaders of our state and nation who will increasingly work in a diverse and global society.”

Perry challenges NY governor Cuomo to a debate

Updated to include Democratic response.

Gov. Rick Perry is inviting New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to an economic debate. He issued the challenge during his latest trip to the Empire State. Speaking on Fred Dicker’s talk radio program, Perry said he would welcome a “thoughtful conversation” with Cuomo about jobs, taxes and education. He said,

“A debate between the governors of two of the largest states in the country on policy issues such as taxes, government spending, education, regulations and legal reform would be beneficial to our states and our country as a whole. 

In regard to new economic policies aimed at making New York a more business friendly place, Perry was dismissive of the steps taken so far under Cuomo’s leadership. Some of those programs include START-UP NY; which offers tax free status for certain kinds of businesses. Perry said,

“I will say in New York’s credit, they’ve moved in the right direction. According to the tax foundation, they were the number 50. Last place when it came to total tax burden And now they’ve but some changes into place that moved them up to 48. I mean, that’s small ball, but of course there was only one direction you could go in New York.”

Perry is in New York City until Thursday. It’s another visit to lure jobs to Texas. Perry’s office says the governor will meet privately with business leaders and will attend a reception hosted by the group TexasOne.

Americans for Economic Freedom, which is a PAC formed with money left over from Gov. Perry’s failed presidential run,  released a new ad to coincide with the governor’s visit. It calls New York the “most unfriendly state for business.” You can watch it, below.

 

UPDATE:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not responded to Perry’s request. Danny Kanner with the Democratic Governor’s Association issued this statement, making reference to Perry’s now infamous presidential debate blunder:

“A little free advice for Rick Perry: the fewer debates with anyone, the better. Oops!”

Capital Tonight: Former prosecutor weighs in on Perry investigation

A special grand jury will hear evidence on Friday over whether Gov. Rick Perry broke state law by vetoing funding for the Public Integrity Unit. The agency, which oversees state corruption investigations, falls under the responsibility of the District Attorney’s office, whose head was arrested last May for drunk driving.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how investigations surrounding both the governor and the candidates to be the next Texas governor are shaking up their political futures.

CONVERSATION WITH THE CONGRESSMAN

Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul sat down with us to explain why the Boston bombing last April could have been prevented and what reforms can be made in mental health following this year’s Fort Hood shooting. McCaul also gave us the latest on a massive drone strike in Yemen today.

ADS IN INVESTIGATION

The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg offered his take on a new political ad from Greg Abbott’s campaign, meant to tie an FBI investigation more closely to his Democratic opponent for governor, Sen. Wendy Davis.

Gov. Rick Perry planning return trip to NY

Gov. Rick Perry is making another trip to the Empire State, in an effort to lure jobs back home to Texas. Perry’s office says the governor will meet privately with business leaders in New York City from April 22-24. Perry will also attend a reception hosted by TexasOne, to tout the state’s business economy.

This is Perry’s second trip to New York in less than a year. He visited in June to urge New Yorkers to relocate to Texas. As in previous job-poaching trips, the group TexasOne will pay for Perry’s travel. The governor says no tax dollars are being used for the initiative.

This is Gov. Perry’s final term as Texas governor. There has been renewed speculation in recent months, however, that he is preparing for another presidential run.

Capital Tonight: Bitcoin and the FBI become factors in governor’s race

Sen. Wendy Davis is in the headlines again this week, but not exactly in a way her campaign might have hoped.

The Dallas Morning News reports a toll road authority that had paid Sen. Davis for ongoing legal work is part of an investigation by the FBI.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we discussed whether the ongoing questions about conflicts of interest will gain more traction in the governor’s race, where Sen. Davis is seeking to win against Attorney General Greg Abbott.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

Meanwhile, Abbott’s campaign for governor is going high-tech. The campaign announced this week that he will now be accepting Bitcoin contributions.

We sat down with Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune, David Barer of The Dallas Morning News and KUT’s Ben Philpott to discuss the politics behind crypto-currency and the latest attack ads in the race for lieutenant governor.

CHECKING THE FACTS

Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to check on claims by both President Barack Obama and outspoken Rep. Louie Gohmert.

Capital Tonight: Attack ads resurface in lieutenant governor’s race

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has broken his weeks-long campaign silence. In a new ad released Wednesday, the incumbent is bringing up his opponent’s financial past, suggesting Sen. Dan Patrick’s bankruptcy filing nearly 30 years ago is an indication of his suitability for lieutenant governor.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we look at how the Patrick team is responding to the ad, and we hear why one former campaign consultant says the strategy could backfire.

NEW POLL NUMBERS

A new poll puts Sen. Ted Cruz at the top of the heap when it comes to potential 2016 Republican primary candidates. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to evaluate what the numbers mean for Cruz, and for Gov. Rick Perry.

MAKING THE GRADE

All this month, schools are measuring students with the STAAR test. But what about using it to evaluate teachers? We spoke to Jennifer Canaday of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, who says the idea could be disastrous.

Capital Tonight: Polling director defends results against Democratic group’s criticism

Legalizing gambling is an decades-old debate in Texas, and a new dustup over bingo hall regulations may be a sign that state lawmakers won’t be ready to make the leap anytime soon.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we explained the fight over a popular pull-tab game and why it could carry over into the next legislative session.

BEHIND THE NUMBERS

New poll numbers show Texas Democrats with double-digit deficits to overcome in order to win in 2014, but the results are drawing criticism from Lone Star Project, a political strategy group aligned with Democrats that’s claiming faulty methodology.

We sat down with Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen to defend the results and go behind the numbers.

T

ON THE AGENDA

Gov. Rick Perry is popping up in the polls again, and the results are night-and-day compared to his 2012 campaign. Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report joined us to analyze his surge in popularity.

New Dewhurst ad targets Patrick’s troubled financial past

Updated to include Sen. Patrick response.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is out with a new television attack ad today. The new 30-second spot is highly critical of Sen. Dan Patrick’s financial history. Patrick filed for personal bankruptcy in the 1980s, when fallout from the oil bust forced him close a chain of sports bars he co-owned. Many have been critical of the fact that he never paid back more than $800,000 in debts.

Patrick has defended his bankruptcy, saying he never tried to hide his troubled financial past. Patrick has used his history as an example of how Texans can overcome hardship, and attributes his success as a businessman to lessons learned from his past failures. “I learned from that. It made me the fiscal conservative that I am because I am 63 today, I was 35 then,” he said in an online interview. 

You can watch the full Dewhurst ad here:

UPDATE:

Patrick was quick to respond to Dewhurst’s attack, calling the negative ad a “string of lies, half truths, and a rehash of events from 30 years ago.” Below is a statement from Patrick campaign strategist Allen Blakemore.

“Six weeks before the Runoff Election and during Holy Week, David Dewhurst takes his campaign straight to the gutter.  Over the next seven days, he is spending over $1,000,000 polluting the airwaves, spewing raw sewage, and personally attacking Dan Patrick.  Mr. Dewhurst’s ad offers no excuse for his own record of failure to secure the border, failure to address property taxes that are driving people from their homes, and a failure to deliver a fiscally responsible budget.

Mr. Dewhurst’s negative campaign of personal attacks will fail.  The voters know David Dewhurst and his record, and over 70% have already rejected his message and are looking for an authentic conservative like Dan Patrick to lead as our next Lieutenant Governor.”