Archive for May, 2012

U.S. Senate race far from over

We might have to wait until July 31 to figure out who will be our nominees for U.S. Senate, despite recent polls indicating Lt. Gov. Dewhurst could win the Republican Senate nomination on primary night. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll shows both the Republican and Democratic races heading to a runoff.

Dewhurst is at 40 percent among likely Republican primary voters, Ted Cruz is behind him with 31 percent. Tom Leppert has seen a boost, he’s at 17 percent. Former ESPN analyst Craig James is polling at 4 percent.

Democrats are even more split on who their nominee should be. Former State Rep. Paul Sadler, 29 percent, is the frontrunner, but by only 4 points. Sean Hubbard is at 25 percent.

Be sure to tune in to YNN on primary night for continuing live coverage. Our Capital Commentators Ted Delisi and Harold Cook will join us, as well as the Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg and broadcaster Scott Braddock. We will also speak to UT Pollster and politics professor Jim Henson. Coverage begins at 4 p.m.

Judge to hear Planned Parenthood, state arguments Oct. 19

State attorneys and Planned Parenthood met in court again Friday where a federal judge set a start date for the trial.

At issue is funding for the women’s health group. Officials with Planned Parenthood say the state violated the U.S. Constitution when it pulled funding based on the group’s affiliation with abortion clinics.

Last month, Judge Lee Yaekel issued a stay, effectively keeping the funding coming until a court decision.

Judge Yaekel said Friday arguments in the case will start in October.

He warned both sides that he may not have a decision on the case before Nov. 1 — which is when the state could eliminate the program, altogether.

Wentworth, Ames Jones take mudslinging to court

It has been an ugly campaign for state Senate District 25 almost from the get-go. Now, state Sen. Jeff Wentworth says opponent Elizabeth Ames Jones made "false criminal accusations" in her campaign ads, and is hitting her with a libel and slander lawsuit. Thursday evening Ames Jones fired back, announcing she’ll file a counter claim Friday, saying her ads are true.

“I will be filing a counterclaim in Bexar County District Court tomorrow because truth is an absolute defense, and my television ads are true. It is undeniable that Senator Wentworth has billed his campaign for travel-related expenses, then been personally “reimbursed” by the State of Texas for those same travel-related expenses. That is called “double-dipping," Ames Jones said in a press release.

Wentworth says Elizabeth Ames Jones ads are "a disgrace to democracy" and criticized her for not making the claims during more than 30 debates.

"I have never heard or seen such malicious defamation. To be falsely accused of committing a crime is over the line of political discourse and has forced me into filing this defamation lawsuit against Jones. I filed this lawsuit to defend my honor and the integrity of our democracy," Wentworth said during a press conference, according to a campaign press release.

According to the Houston Chronicle, this isn’t Wentworth’s first defamation of character lawsuit. He sued an opponent in 2002 for running an ad that claimed he was involved in a special interest group.

RPT announces Ron Paul convention breakout session

Rep. Ron Paul will lead one of the breakout sessions at the state Republican convention, next month. The Republican Party of Texas made that announcement, today. The session for Convention attendees is called "Uniting Republicans and Balancing the Federal Budget."

In a statement, RPT Chairman Chris Elam said Paul’s breakout session will "undoubtedly be one of the most highly attended special events during the three-day Convention and I know many of our delegates will be interested in hearing about his principled approach to shrinking the size of our federal government from such a major national figure in our Party."

On Monday, Paul announced that he wouldn’t be campaigning in any new states. He is, however, still attending state conventions and working to collect delegates in states that have already held their primaries and caucuses.

In addition to Rep. Paul’s breakout session, the RPT Convention schedule includes a gala speech by former Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum and a keynote speech by Rep. Paul Ryan.

Perry, Dewhurst talk politics outside early voting site

Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst took advantage of early voting Wednesday morning. The duo cast their ballots at a West Austin polling location.

They also stopped to talk to reporters and members of the community, mostly about the upcoming U.S. Senate race in which Dewhurst is the frontrunner.

The lieutenant governor touted his conservative record just seconds after casting his vote, separating himself from the crowded Republican pack running against him.

“We’re running for the United States Senate seat to represent the people of Texas as a strong conservative, to fight for them in Washington, and it seems like all the others are running against David Dewhurst,” Dewhurst said.

Just last week, the conservative Tea Party activist group, Club for Growth, announced its plans to spend more than $1 million on anti-Dewhurst ads. The group supports former solicitor general, Ted Cruz.

Gov. Perry stole the spotlight outside the polling location, sharing his thoughts on the presidential race he dropped out of four months ago.

“He [President Obama] is mortgaging this country’s future everyday with his spending,” Gov. Perry said. “For me, that’s what it gets down to — if you are not able to have a job, if you’re not able to take care of your family. And that’s one thing Mitt [Romney] will bring to the table. Not only his private sector experience, but also he understands the government is not the answer to everything.”

The governor also reflected on the recent rumors surrounding University of Texas President Bill Powers’ job after Powers publicly expressed his disappointment in Perry’s call for a tuition freeze.

“When Barack Obama and myself, David Dewhurst, Francisco Cigarroa and Chairman [Dan] Branch are all for not raising tuition, and you’re on the other side of that, you may be on the wrong side of that issue,” Gov. Perry said.

Asked if he would accept a cabinet position in a Romney administration, the governor simply answered, “I have a job.”

Report: No media allowed at Santorum state convention speech

Rick Santorum is scheduled to speak during the Texas Republican Party’s convention. But if you want to hear from the former presidential candidate, you better buy a ticket soon. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Santorum’s speech at the annual convention Gala Banquet will not be open to the media.

"Santorum is the main attraction at the June 8 Gala Banquet, a private party fundraiser at the convention, that at least for now will be reserved for delegates, alternates and those who buy tickets to the event at the Fort Worth Convention Center. "There has never been media availability at the state party’s premier banquet," said Chris Elam, the state party’s communications director," Star-Telegram reporter Anna M. Tinsley writes.

The Star-Telegram article says RPT officials are talking to Santorum’s people to see if he wants to make himself available to the media. According to the party’s website tickets cost $200 each and are selling fast.

Vying to be the most ‘conservative’ candidate

The current race for Kay Bailey Hutichson’s seat on the U.S. Senate is quite crowded on the Republican side.

Division within the party itself has become evident between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s and former solicitor general Ted Cruz’s campaigns. Cruz has won the support of national Tea Party groups, some of which are now running ads attacking Dewhurst for not being conservative enough.

However, some Republicans may differ on what ‘conservative’ actually means.

"A belief in the patterns of government that have existed and worked in the past," Jim Cardle with Texas Insider said.

Jonathan Saenz with the Liberty Institute says a true conservative believes in what some would say are the core values established at America’s birth.

"Where do you stand on the issue of the role of government? Where do you stand on religious liberty and Founding Fathers?" he said.

Most would say the candidates for U.S. Senate wouldn’t differentiate a whole lot on those, but what about today’s Texas conservative?

"A personal agenda, or something divisive, where you have to answer a score card or something like that," Cardle said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry, who’s been considered one of the Tea Party’s loudest voices, is coming to Dewhurst’s ‘conservative’ defense in one of the lieutenant governor’s latest ads.

"The fact of the matter is, they’re all conservative. They all believe in less government. They all believe in individual freedoms,” Cardle said. “They all believe in states’ rights. They’re conservatives, but again their problem is they’re running in a conservative primary."

The U.S. Senate race will be among the topics during our weekly political show “Capital Tonight” this Thursday at 7 p.m.

Hutchison op-ed asks women to back Romney

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison laid out her support for Mitt Romney today, and threw out the argument that the Republican party is waging a "war on women. in an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle.

"All Americans are suffering. Unemployment is too high, economic growth is too low, and the Obama administration seems incapable of doing anything about it. We all need a change for the better, and those politicians who prefer to divide us rather than seek solutions deserve our scorn.

I support Gov. Mitt Romney for president because he has a well-thought-out plan to get our economy back on track. He recognizes that it is not government but the American people who have made our country great. Men and women pursuing their hopes, seeking the fulfillment of the American dream. The success of our efforts to grow the economy will depend entirely on whether we make it easier or harder for them to accomplish that goal," Hutchison writes.

Hutchison writes that when she became the first woman to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate, "it was with the help of a lot of women – and a large number of men, too."

Hutchison did not endorse Gov. Rick Perry while he was running for the Republican nomination. She had said on MSNBC in February, she thought Romney has the experience she hopes a president would have.

New US Senate ad hits TV

You can expect to see plenty more campaign ads, now that Texas primary early voting is underway.

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst released a new statewide television ad, today. The :30 second spot is called "Red Handed," and again released, Thursday.

Paul campaign is not over, will speak at Texas GOP convention in June

The Ron Paul campaign insisted Tuesday the Texas congressman’s bid for the GOP nomination is not over. He will continue campaigning, however he won’t spend money in upcoming primary states, including Texas.

"Yesterday Dr. Paul announced that our campaign is not going to spend resources in upcoming primary states. That decision was made largely made on financial decisions but also because of the effectiveness of our delegate strategy and what we’ve accomplished so far," Jesse Benton, Ron Paul National Campaign Chairman, said on a conference call with reporters.

"Dr. Paul is not suspending his campaign and he is not dropping out of the race. Dr. Paul plans to continue actively campaigning," Benton said.

The campaign did acknowledge is it "unlikely" they will be able to block Gov. Romney’s nomination at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this summer, however they report they about more than 100 bound delegates. That number exceeds the amount usually reported.

Although he won’t campaign in his home-state ahead of the May 29 primary, Rep. Paul will speak at the Texas GOP Convention in Ft. Worth in June. He will not attend a large rally planned at the University of Texas this Saturday. Organizers had planned on thousands attending. Instead, Paul will be in Minnesota this weekend, speaking at the state’s GOP convention.