Archive for July, 2012

Sen. Hutchison vows to help Cruz prepare to fill her seat

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says she will help Ted Cruz get elected to fill her seat in Washington. She announced her retirement almost two years ago.

“I’d like to congratulate both Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst on a hard fought primary.

“In the coming months, I will do everything I can to support the election of Ted Cruz to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate and be available to him for any questions that will prepare him for the issues he will face.

“It is more important than ever that we have leaders who are committed to get our country back on track – focused on cutting spending and creating jobs to grow our economy.”

Perry: Dewhurst and I will stand together

Gov. Perry isn’t turning his back on Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst following his runoff loss to Ted Cruz. In a statement Perry said he is proud to call Dewhurst his friend.

"I congratulate Ted Cruz on a hard-fought victory and a well-executed campaign. Ted is a force to be reckoned with: an excellent candidate and a great conservative communicator. I call on all conservative Texans to rally behind Ted Cruz in November so we can remake the U.S. Senate in the image of Texas for the good of all Americans.

“Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst fought a valiant fight. I’m proud to call David my friend. He and I will stand shoulder to shoulder once again in the spring, fighting for Texas — the most conservative state in America.

"Texas is as rock-hard conservative as ever. Texans in true Texas fashion decided what is right for Texas. It is my expectation and prayer that their choice will be right for America."

Dewhurst wasn’t the governor’s only endorsement, at least two of the candidates Perry backed were successful. Roger Williams beat Wes Riddle for the Republican nomination in Congressional district 25 and Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman held on to his party’s nomination.

Mayor Julián Castro to keynote Democratic National Convention

In the same fashion which catapulted President Obama to national prominence in 2004, Mayor Julián Castro will deliver this year’s keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in September. Castro will be the first Latino keynote speaker at the DNC.

"Two conventions ago, the keynote speaker was a guy named Barack Obama. I remember watching his speech in 2004 and being inspired," Castro said in his announcement video.

At 37 years old, Castro is the youngest mayor of a Top 50 American city. His twin brother, Joaquin, is a state rep and is running for Congress in San Antonio. He keynoted the Texas Democratic convention in June and was a guest in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box at the State of the Union earlier this year.

"Julián Castro has worked tirelessly to move San Antonio forward by building its economy from the middle out, not the top down, by putting the city on a path to being a leader in the new energy economy and making innovative investments in education to prepare San Antonio’s students for the jobs of the future,” Democratic Convention Chair, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said on the DNC website. “That’s the same vision forward for the middle class the President has.”

The Democratic National Convention starts Sept. 4 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

You can watch Castro’s announcement video below.

Poll show mixed numbers in US Senate race on eve of runoff Election Day

After more than a year of campaigning, and mudslinging, Tuesday is Election Day, and a couple new polls show mixed numbers for one of the biggest races to watch.

A survey from Public Policy Polling shows Ted Cruz ahead of Dewhurst, 52 to 42 percent. Just two weeks earlier, PPP found them five points apart.

Sunday’s poll specifically shows Cruz leading among Republicans who cast ballots during early voting, 55 to 40. He also leads, 49 to 44, among people who say they have yet to vote.

Dewhurst leads with seniors by a big margin, 56 to 39, but younger voters strongly prefer Cruz by a 60 to 33 margin.

While Public Policy Polling is a Democratic-leaning survey organization, their polls in this Republican race have been pretty accurate. Their poll right before the primary proved to be within a few points of the actual outcome. The Dewhurst campaign, however, is countering with a poll of their own which they say shows the numbers in their favor.

They’re citing an internal poll, conducted by the Texas-based group Baselice & Associates during early voting on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week. It shows Dewhurst leading Cruz 48 percent to 43 percent. The poll, paid for by the Dewhurst campaign, was released by the National Journal. YNN confirmed the numbers with the polling group.

Cruz campaigned with some big names over the weekend. Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint and Rick Santorum all traveled to Texas to stump with him. Dewhurst has the backing of many top Texas officials. Governor Perry will campaign with him all day today. State Comptroller Susan Combs formally endorsed Dewhurst last week. Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced his support for the lieutenant governor Sunday.

Perry appoints new leadership at Health and Human Services Commission

Dr. Kyle Janek served in the legislature from 1995-2008. 
Photo courtesy: Senate Media Services

Gov. Perry announced Austin anesthesiologist and former state senator, Dr. Kyle Janek, will replace Tom Suehs as executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services. Perry also appointed Chris Traylor to serve as chief deputy commissioner.

"Texas, like the rest of the country, is headed into a period of the most significant changes in health care in our history,” Gov. Perry said in a press release. “This new leadership team, with Kyle and Chris at the helm, combines unparalleled experience and expertise to ensure Texans continue to have access to the health care they need while implementing fiscal policies that are mindful that it’s taxpayer money they are spending.”

Janek is currently the director of anesthesia services at Lakeway Regional Medical Center. He served in the Texas House and Senate from 1995 to 2008. He graduated from Texas A&M before heading to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Traylor has been commissioner of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services since 2010.

Grady Yarbrough out with new ad

Grady Yarbrough, a democratic candidate for US Senate, has produced a new TV and radio commercial. In a post on his Facebook page, Yarbrough said the ad could be seen on television stations across the state from July 24 – 30, at 5p and 6p.

Yarbrough became the surprise runoff candidate in May, after he came in second to the more well-known Paul Sadler.

It is not clear how Yarbrough is paying for his television and radio ads; he hasn’t reported recent contributions to the Federal Election Commission. The Dallas Morning News reports that Grady would self-finance ads for the runoff campaign. Capital Tonight did call Yarbrough for comment tonight, but he couldn’t be reached.

Here is the ad:

Cruz-Santorum campaign event set for Saturday morning

A big name in Tea Party politics will roll into Southlake, Texas Saturday morning. We now know where and when Rick Santorum will join U.S. Senate Republican runoff candidate Ted Cruz for a rally. The event will take place Saturday morning at 11:30 at the Ranch of the Lonesome Dove.

The event comes less than 24 hours after a rally in The Woodlands with Sarah Palin, Sen. Jim DeMint and many Tea Party leaders from across the state. Santorum endorsed Cruz May 24 on Glenn Beck’s radio show.

New PAC aims to mobilize Hispanic democrats

Two Mexican-American State Representatives are hoping to mobilize hispanic voters, in Texas. According to the State Ethics commission, the "One Texas PAC" was created on July 2. Democratic Representatives Trey Martinez Fisher and Ana Hernandez Luna unveiled it, today.

The PAC will focus on mobilizing Hispanic voters in Texas House districts where they can impact election outcomes. While the Hispanic population in Texas is growing, a disproportionately low number are voting. The ultimate goal, organizers say, is to add more Hispanic Democrats to the Texas legislature.

Martinez Fisher, who is the chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, told the Associated Press "I want to talk to people because I believe if they understand what we stand for, they will realize there are people fighting for them."

Martinez Fisher has also pledged to match the first $50,000 dollars in contributions.

Senators vote on dueling tax bills

It was a day for dueling tax votes on Capitol Hill; and in today’s battle, the Democrats reigned victorious.

Democrats in the US Senate voted Wednesday to extend tax cuts for middle class Americans. The so-called Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire by the end of the year. The measure passed today extends the cuts for all but the wealthiest Americans. It is unlikely, however, that the bill will become law. It is expected to fail in the Republican controlled House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, a Republican supported measure to extend all of the so-called Bush Era tax cuts died on the floor. That measure would have cut taxes for all Americans, including the nation’s richest.

President Obama released this statement, calling on House Republicans to pass the legislation:

"With the Senate’s vote, the House Republicans are now the only people left in Washington holding hostage the middle-class tax cuts for 98% of Americans and nearly every small business owner. The last thing a typical middle class family can afford is a $2,200 tax hike at the beginning of next year. It’s time for House Republicans to drop their demand for another $1 trillion giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and give our families and small businesses the financial security and certainty that they need. Our economy isn’t built from the top-down, it’s built from a strong and growing middle class, and that’s who we should be fighting for."

Today’s votes were split down party lines, with both Texas senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn voting in favor of the Republican backed bill; and against the Obama administration supported legislation.

Here are statements released today by their offices:

Sen. John Cornyn Statement:

“Two years ago, President Obama and a majority of Senate Democrats supported an effort that made sure working families and small businesses wouldn’t be hit with higher taxes.

“Their refusal to join this effort today, in a more sluggish economy, is nothing short of baffling.

“Republicans will continue to push for an extension of all current tax rates, protecting Texas families, farms, and small businesses from the largest tax increase in American history.”

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison Statement:

“The tax increase bill Democrats put forward would hike taxes on nearly a million small businesses at a time when our economy remains weak.

“The Democrats’ tax plan will increase the death tax from its current rate of 35% up to 55%, taking more of the American people’s hard earned money away from their families.

“It is telling that Democrats voted against an extension of current tax rates even though doing so would provide the stability companies need to hire new workers and offer protection to families from new taxes, at a time of continued economic uncertainty.”

SCOTUS to hear UT affirmative action case in October

The date has been set for the University of Texas to defend its admissions policy in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The court will again examine affirmative action in Fisher v. University of Texas, with oral arguments on October 10.

Abigail Fisher, a white student, sued UT after she was denied admission. Fisher says the school violated her constitutional right to equal protection. UT’s admissions policy takes into account a student’s race and ethnicity, but also admits about two-thirds of UT freshman based on high school class rank. The SCOTUS decision could change how race is used in college admissions nationwide.