Archive for May, 2012

Dewhurst picks up Craig James endorsement

Craig James will endorse former rival Lt. Governor David Dewhurst in his Senate bid. Dewhurst’s campaign said James would make the formal announcement later today, at the Dallas Republican Party headquarters.

Dewhurst is facing a runoff against former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, who placed second in Tuesday’s primary. Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert came in third, but has not said who, if anyone, he will endorse.

James, who is a former ESPN analyst, finished in fourth place, with four percent of the vote.

In a statement released by the Dewhurst campaign, James said:

“On July 31st, Texans will have a clear choice between David Dewhurst, a Texas conservative businessman, and Ted Cruz, a D.C. lawyer beholden to Washington insiders and politicians. Today, I am proud to endorse David Dewhurst for U.S. Senate. David Dewhurst is a Texas patriot who will fight for our shared conservative values."

“Washington insiders are spending millions in Texas trying to hand-pick the next Senator. That’s not the Texas way. We need an outsider who can take the Texas model to Washington and stand up to the political insiders who are trying to hand-pick our next U.S. Senator. We need David Dewhurst.”

Primary night coverage on YNN

Michael Morton’s role in the race for WilCo DA

A point of contention in this year’s race for Williamson County District Attorney is the high-profile wrongful conviction of Michael Morton.

The issue has put current Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley in the spotlight. Early numbers have his challenger, Jana Duty, taking the lead.

YNN’s John Salazar reports on how Morton shaped the race.

Then, YNN’s Chie Saito has more on the Bell County race for sheriff, and more analysis from Jim Henson with the Texas Political Party.

Political analysis: Race for District 35

YNN’s Paul Brown talks with the Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg and statewide political analyst Scott Braddock about the race for District 35.

The restricting fallout earlier this year moved longtime Congressman Lloyd Doggett from many his loyal constituents.

Also hear Kronberg’s and Braddock’s analysis on the race for Hutchison’s Senate seat.

Polls close in less than one hour

Polls for this year’s primary close at 7 p.m. across Travis County.

This particular primary is running a little late. Normally primary elections are held in March, but the redistricting hearing slowed things down this year, landing both the state primary and municipal elections in May.

According to Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, having the election the day after Memorial Day weekend had a negative impact on voter turnout.

"We have seen a nice, steady turnout for today, but I don’t think it is going to break any records,” DeBeauvoir said. “In fact, it looks like it is probably going to be a pretty low turnout.”

By early Tuesday afternoon, about 25,000 people had voted in Travis County, but there’s usually a rush to the polls at the end of the work day. DeBeauvoir said she expects the total number to double by the time the polls close.

At 7 p.m. sharp, all the ballots will be delivered to the city clerk’s office on flash drives, where the votes will be tallied. Early numbers should start rolling in about 8:15 p.m.

Then, Paul Brown shares what to expect as primary night continues.

Race for District 35, political analysis from Jim Henson

YNN’s Karina Kling is with the Lloyd Doggett campaign as they wait for results for Texas’ District 35 seat. Hear how Doggett and his top competitor Sylvia Romo are feeling tonight.

Also, listen to analysis from political strategist Jim Henson.

Primary night in Texas

It’s primary night in Central Texas, and YNN has all the high-profile races across Central Texas covered.

The race is close between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s US Senate seat.

Both candidates are watching the results roll in from Houston, and YNN is there.

Pleased with early voting numbers, Matt Hirsch with the Dewhurst campaign said he went to vote this morning and no one was there day after Memorial Day, as expected. The awkward timing of Election Day is the reason why so many campaigns pushed early voting. While Dewhurst did stay active throughout the day, his campaign didn’t do any phone banking.

Unlike his chief rival, Dewhurst’s top republican challenger, Ted Cruz, had about a half dozen volunteers phone banking well into the afternoon.

Primary night nearly upon us

After months of legal wrangling over redistricting and three different primary dates, voters in Texas will finally be able to cast their ballots, tomorrow. Here’s a look at some of the races we will be closely monitoring.

US Senate Race

The Democratic and Republican races to replace outgoing Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison could both be headed to a runoff. The latest polls show Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in the lead; but not with the 51 percent needed for an outright win.

That runoff would likely be against former Solicitor General Ted Cruz. He’s polling in second place. Many of the issues in the US Senate race have been overshadowed by the negative ad war raging between Dewhurst and Cruz.

In an interview with Capital Tonight last week, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert told us he’s hoping to rise above the fray and secure the number two spot.

Capital Tonight will have a crew with both the Dewhurst and Cruz campaigns in Houston, as well as the Leppert campaign in Dallas. On the Democratic side, veteran Paul Sadler will join us for a live interview at 7:30 tomorrow night and we will have a crew with newcomer Sean Hubbard’s campaign in Dallas.

US House District 35

Longtime Austin Congressman Lloyd Doggett is running in a brand new district, this election. District 35 includes Austin and San Antonio, connected by a sliver of I-35. Doggett is a household name in Austin, and has had to focus most of his effort on winning over voters in San Antonio.

During an interview with Capital Tonight’s Karina Kling last Thursday, Doggett made it clear he needed his Austin base to show up at the polls, if he’s going to keep his seat in Washington.

Karina has been following this race all year, and will be with Congressman Lloyd Doggett as he watches the returns tomorrow night.

Williamson County District Attorney

The race for Williamson County DA is one of the most contentious local races, this election season. This campaign has seen a slew of negative attacks from both sides. Jana Duty has focused her attacks mainly on incumbent John Bradley’s handling of the Michael Morton case. Bradley has maintained that Duty doesn’t have the experience to be the District Attorney.

YNN’s John Salazar has followed both the Morton case and the Duty-Bradley race closely. He will be in Williamson County with the candidates, tomorrow night.

Other races we are watching

Capital Tonight will also have crews covering the Travis and Bell County sheriff’s races, the Republican primary for US Congressional District 35 and the Travis County District Attorney race.

Be sure to join us for a special Decision 2012 Primary Night edition of Capital Tonight tomorrow, live from the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. We will have live reports from our reporters stationed across the state, as well as analysis from our panel of experts. Our regular Democratic and Republican contributors Harold Cook and Ted Delisi will join us; as will regular commentator Harvey Kronberg from the Quorum Report. We’ll also be joined by political analyst Scott Braddock and James Henson from the Texas Politics Project.

Senate candidates launch last-minute ads

Cruz defends amnesty record

An ad distributed by the group Grassroots America – We the People aims to defend Ted Cruz’s record on amnesty. The ad was approved and paid for by the Cruz campaign. In an email, GAWTP Chairwoman JoAnn Fleming attacks Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst saying:

"Just when you thought David Dewhurst couldn’t stoop any lower, he’s now making his most despicable attack yet on Ted Cruz.
In a last minute, desperation attempt to cling to power, Dewhurst is actually claiming that Ted Cruz, of all people, supports amnesty! Of course this is completely false, but it’s also shameful race-bating.
This shows more clearly than ever that David Dewhurst is an establishment moderate politician so hooked on power that he thinks Texans are stupid enough to believe that the same Ted Cruz who successfully defended Texas’s right to execute an illegal alien for raping and murdering two teenage girls is somehow soft on illegal immigration."

You can watch the video, here:

Leppert target of new Dewhurst ad

There has been some evidence that Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert is gaining ground in the Senate race. In an interview with Capital Tonight Thursday, Leppert said he was hoping to overtake Ted Cruz, and force a runoff with frontrunner Dewhurst.

Today, Dewhurst released a new :30 anti-Leppert Television ad. The new spot comes just days after Dewhurst launched an entire website accusing Leppert of being ‘too liberal for Texas.’

Here’s the new TV ad:

Abbott backs off Voter ID deposition objection

Attorney General Greg Abbott is making some concessions in the Voter ID battle. He said Wednesday he would drop his objection to a Department of Defense request to interview lawmakers involved in passing the controversial legislation, last session.

Last week, the Department of Justice accused the state of "repeatedly ignoring and violating directives and orders of this Court that were designed to expedite discovery."

In a statement released to Capital Tonight , today, Deputy Communications Director Lauren Bean said:

"Neither Legislators, nor their staff have waived legislative privilege. In order to move the case forward without delay, the State agreed to allow depositions to proceed, but we will continue to object to any questions that solicit privileged information from legislators. The court has recognized the existence of the legislative privilege and will rule on our objections in the future."

The Voter ID law would require Texans to present photo identification before casting a ballot. It is currently held up in Washington, while a federal district court will decides if it violates the Voting Rights Act. Texas and several other states are required to get federal approval for any changes to election law.

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice denied the state preclearance, saying the law didn’t stand up to Section 5 of Voting Rights Act. In other words, the state couldn’t prove it doesn’t have a discriminatory purpose or effect.

Attorney General Greg Abbott is challenging that part of the law. However, this week, an appeals court struck down a similar lawsuit filed by Alabama.

Cruz swipes another red meat endorsement: Rick Santorum

First it was Jim DeMint, then Ron Paul and Sarah Palin. Now, Ted Cruz is getting the strong backing of another Tea Party rock star: Rick Santorum. Santorum appeared on Glenn Beck’s radio show Thursday morning.

"This is a tough race because there’s some very good people in this race but to me Ted is, what we’re missing in the United States Senate," Santorum said. "There’s no one out there that can get up there and deliver the kind of impassioned, spellbinding speeches and really engage the debate on the floor of the United States Senate…Ted Cruz, I’ve seen him speak, and he is spellbinding. He really is. He’s just a tremendous orator and very strongly principled, in-depth. I mean, he understands these issues at his core and can really deliver the message. And we do need, not just people who are good votes, but people who can really motivate and lead."

Santorum said he waited to endorse anyone in the GOP Senate primary, but said he related to how Cruz has been out spent by Dewhurst, and he gravitates to the underdog.

"There’s a kindred spirit when you’re the underdog and you’re being out spent and someone whose got the grassroots support and is working their tail off every day and you know, that’s the kind of candidate that I was and I sort of gravitate to, so I’m excited to be involved in his campaign and I will be doing all I can between now and Tuesday to help him out and make sure he’s at least in [the] runoff and who knows, maybe he can surge ahead and pull a big surprise."

Dewhurst campaign blitz paid for by own money

Team Dewhurst is going all out in the final week before the Texas primary. First, they released a bunch of new campaign ads, plus, an entire website about "liberal" Tom Leppert. The campaign blitz probably isn’t cheap, and it looks like Dewhurst is fronting the bill himself.

The Associated Press is reporting Dewhurst lent his campaign close to $1.2 million on May 14, the first day of early voting. That amount brings Dewhurst’s personal campaign tab to $13.2 million. The AP says $4 million has already been paid back by the campaign.

The "Liberal Leppert" website is the first full-frontal attack on the former Dallas Mayor by Dewhurst. He’s focused most of his negative ads on Ted Cruz, until now. Leppert saw a boost in the recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll.

One of Dewhurst’s new ads also seems aimed at Leppert, although in a more subtle way. The 30 second spot, "Lifelong Businessman," says Dewhurst "built his own energy company from the ground up, met a payroll, created jobs." Leppert has called Dewhurst a "career politician backed by lobbyists" and an "empty suit."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This week on Capital Tonight: Final primary push

US Senate Race

The US Senate race is tighter than ever, with a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll shows both the Republican and Democratic races headed to a runoff. While David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz are polling at the front of the pack, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert is seeing a bump. Capital Tonight’s Alana Rocha will sit down with Leppert to talk about his last minute campaign strategy.

The Race for CD 35

Thanks to redistricting, longtime Austin Congressman Lloyd Doggett is running in a brand new district this election. This month, we sat down with Doggett’s opponents, Sylvia Romo
and Maria Louisa Alvarado. Thursday, it’s Rep. Doggett’s turn for a ‘Candidate Conversation.’ He will be joining Capital Tonight’s Karina Kling in the studio this week to talk about his reelection bid.

Capital Commentators

As always, Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report, Democratic Strategist Harold Cook and Republican Strategist Ted Delisi will be here to give us their take on the week in state and national politics.

Primary Night Coverage

Be sure to join us Tuesday night, for our special Decision 2012: Texas Primary coverage. We will be live from the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Our Capital Commentators will join us; as will political analyst Scott Braddock and Texas Politics Project Director, Jim Henson

We’ll bring you up to the minute election returns, plus our reporters will have reaction from the candidates across the state.

Cruz, Leppert release new TV ads

A day after Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst released a new TV ad featuring Gov. Rick Perry, his opponents Tom Leppert and Ted Cruz are both out with new ads.

Leppert’s ad is a sequel to the ‘Empty Suits’ ad that’s been airing since last month. The follow up spot has Leppert touting his credentials as a ‘conservative businessman,’ while portraying Dewhurst, Cruz and President Obama as ’empty suits’, playing football behind him.

The Cruz campaign also released a new television ad it’s calling ‘Fighter.’ The ad focuses on Cruz’s father, who was born in Cuba and was ‘tortured and imprisoned by a Cuban dictator’ before the ‘escaped to America.’ It also touts Cruz’s fight with the United Nations "defending Texas’ right to execute an illegal alien for murdering two teenage girls."–leppert-release-new-tv-ads

Perry hits statewide TV airwaves for Dewhurst

Team Dewhurst rolled out a new ad Monday featuring Gov. Perry. The ad, called "Proud,"
says Dewhurst is "the one candidate best prepared to make conservative change happen in Washington." He goes on to say "don’t let anyone tell you different."

In a press release Dewhurst says "working in stride, Governor Perry and I have helped make Texas the best business climate in the nation by keeping our spending and taxes low.”

It’s not the governor’s first ad in support of Dewhurst. Perry stars in a radio ad released last week defending Dewhurst after the Club for Growth called him a "moderate."

You can watch the new ad for yourself below.