Van de Putte to Run for San Antonio Mayor

After months of speculation, Democratic State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte says she’s running for San Antonio mayor.

The announcement comes just a couple weeks after Van de Putte suffered a huge loss to Republican Dan Patrick in the Lt. Governor’s race. But although she lost big to Patrick two weeks ago, Van de Putte won more than 50 percent of the Bexar County vote. The city election is May 9th.

Meantime, Van de Putte’s decision to run sets up a political “domino effect” among state lawmakers from San Antonio. State Rep. Mike Villarreal (D, District 123) is also running for mayor — and has resigned from the House.

And two other Texas House members from San Antonio have expressed interested in running for Van de Putte’s Senate seat. Today, State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D, District 116) officially declared he is a candidate. And State Rep. Jose Menendez (D, District 124) has already publicly indicated he would be interested.

Van de Putte plans let Gov. Rick Perry know today her intention to resign from the Senate, so he can call for a special election.

 

Judge rules against one Perry defense motion

In an 18-page ruling Tuesday, District Judge Bert Richardson refused to throw out two felony indictments against Gov. Rick Perry. The motion involved in Tuesday’s ruling dealt with a technicality over whether or not special prosecutor Michael McCrum was properly sworn in. Another argument in this particular motion was that some paperwork was not properly filed.

Perry was indicted in August. He’s accused of threatening, then carrying out, a veto of funding for public corruption prosecutors after DA Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat leading the unit, wouldn’t resign following her DWI conviction.

The governor’s defense team has also questioned the case’s constitutionality. Judge Richardson, a Republican, has not yet ruled on those motions.

 

‘Big 3′ extend border surge

Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus have signed an agreement to extend the border surge through the end of August 2015.

Perry and other state officials said in a statement Tuesday that the’ll now await the approval of the Legislative Budget Board, which meets next month.

If members give the $86 million plan the go ahead, the move allows enhanced patrols by the Department of Public Safety, the Texas National Guard and other personnel to continue their response to a surge in immigrants entering illegally into the U.S. through the Rio Grande Valley.

Officials want to divert nearly $48 million in general revenue bonds and other monies to help cover the cost.

“Texas has proven beyond any doubt that this border can be secured, even if the federal government refuses to take the steps necessary to do so as required by the Constitution,” Perry said in a press release. “This agreement will ensure the hardworking men and women from DPS, the Texas National Guard and Texas Parks and Wildlife, who have been working with local and federal partners, have the resources they need to maintain a robust law enforcement presence along the border until the Legislature can act.”

According to the Governor’s Office, funds for DPS would include the addition of new shallow-water boats and other technological capabilities, “which would be used to extend tactical capabilities as well as the surge footprint beyond the Rio Grande Valley Sector.”

 

Abbott Holds Commanding Lead in New Poll

With fewer than two weeks until Election Day, a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll shows Republican Greg Abbott leading Democrat Wendy Davis by 16 points in the race for governor. The poll shows Abbott with 54 percent to Davis’ 38 percent.

In the race for lieutenant governor, Republican Dan Patrick is maintaining a commanding lead over Democrat Leticia Van de Putte. The poll puts Patrick ahead 52 percent to 35 percent.

Lt. Gov. Candidates Release New TV Ads

The candidates for lieutenant governor released dueling television ads Tuesday. Sen. Dan Patrick took aim at his Democratic opponent, with a 30-second spot called “Liberal Leticia.” The ad highlights what Patrick calls Sen. Leticia Van de Putte’s ‘liberal pro-tax record.’

“Senator Patrick sponsored one of the biggest tax cuts in America during the recession,” said campaign strategist, Allen Blakemore. “Patrick has helped Texas lead the nation in job creation through conservative principles – a clear contrast to Van de Putte’s job-killing policies.”

You can watch the ad, here:

Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, meanwhile, released her own new TV ad, called “Rape is Always Rape.”

“Shame on Dan Patrick. He turned his back on rape survivors when Texas had a massive backlog of rape kits,” Van de Putte said in a statement. “His reckless words and actions threaten the progress Texas women have made. Dan Patrick is dangerous for women, and wrong for Texas.”

You can watch the ad, here.

Supreme Court Blocks Texas from Enforcing Parts of Abortion Law

Late today, the Supreme Court blocked Texas from enforcing key parts of a 2013 abortion law that would close all but eight of the state’s abortion facilities.

With three dissenting votes, the court suspended a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed Texas to enforce a rule making abortion clinics statewide spend millions of dollars on hospital-level upgrades known as ambulatory surgical centers.

The appeals court’s ruling suspended an August decision by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who found that such upgrades were less about safety than making access to abortion difficult.

Yeakel’s ruling stopped the requirements, so the state appealed. The 5th Circuit is still considering the overall constitutionality of the measure but allowed it to go into effect.

 

State Permitted to Enforce Voter ID Law in November Election

Republicans are declaring victory, after a federal appeals court ruled that the state’s voter ID law be in place for the November election. The 5th Circuit’s ruling means that Texans will need to bring one of seven forms of acceptable identification to cast a ballot.

Last week, a federal court in Corpus Christi declared the state’s voter ID law unconstitutional, likening it to a modern day poll tax.
Today’s ruling does not deal with the merits of the law itself, which is still under appeal.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor, had requested that SB 14 remain in effect for this election, while the state appeals the lower court’s ruling. Tuesday, the appeals court agreed. The ruling reads, in part:

“This is not a run-of-the-mill case; instead, it is a voting case decided on the eve of the election. The judgment substantially disturbs the election process of the State of Texas just nine days before early voting begins. Thus, the value of preserving the status quo here is much higher than in most other contexts.”

The appeals court also cited U.S. Supreme Court cases where the justices have been hesitant to “allow such eleventh-hour judicial changes to election laws.”

Abbott Compares Davis to Obama in New Ad

Republican Greg Abbott is hitting back against Democrat Wendy Davis — and President Obama — in his latest TV ad. The new spot started airing statewide Tuesday.

“President Obama may not be on the ballot in November, but his failed policies are reflected in Sen. Wendy Davis’ agenda for Texas,” said spokesman Matt Hirsch. “It’s clear that President Obama has no better ally in Texas than his ideological twin, Sen. Davis.”

Abbott’s new ad comes as fallout continues from Sen. Davis’ controversial ad released Friday. The ad accuses Abbott of collecting millions from a lawsuit after an accident left him paralyzed from the waist down — while blocking similar lawsuits in court.

Davis defended the ad Monday at an event with several disability rights activists and supporters. She said the ad is not about Abbott’s disability, it’s about his hypocrisy.

Democrats are also demanding that Abbott campaign apologize for a statement from a campaign adviser calling one of Davis’ supporters a ‘prop.’ “Greg Abbott’s hypocrisy extends to his staff,” said Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Will Hailer. “Referring to a courageous young man as a prop because you don’t like what he has to say is disgusting.”

Mike Collier: “I’m an Accountant. Not a Farmer”

Comptroller candidate Mike Collier’s new TV ad makes a pretty clear point — he’s an accountant, not a farmer. The ad is an attack on his Republican opponent Sen. Glenn Hegar, who helps run his family’s farm and ranch operation outside of Houston when the Legislature is not in session.

In an email, Collier said, “Glenn Hegar likes to talk about what a great farmer he is, even though it has nothing to do with an office that’s all about accounting and revenue forecasts.” The ad shows Collier riding a tractor and trying to herd cattle. “I thought I’d try my hand at farming to drive our point home, and the results weren’t pretty,” he said.

You can watch the ad here:

Sen. Cornyn Calls on Davis to Pull Down Controversial Ad

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn is joining a rising chorus of Republicans outraged by Sen. Wendy Davis’ new attack ad. The ad focuses on a multi-million dollar settlement Republican Greg Abbott collected after an accident left him wheelchair-bound. It calls into question cases where Davis alleges Abbott fought against victims in similar situations.

Sen. Cornyn Friday called on the Davis campaign to pull the ad. He issued this statement:

“Everyone knows that politics can be a tough business but sometimes certain things are way over the line and running an attack ad on a serious medical accident suffered by your opponent is one of them. It’s my hope that Wendy Davis will immediately remove this ad from the airwaves and apologize to Attorney General Abbott because this line of attack has no place in civilized political discourse.”

Cornyn also called attention to a Washington Post article, calling the ad “one of the nastiest campaign ads you will ever see.”