Archive for February, 2014

Capital Tonight: As early voting continues, political ads get uglier

After months of controversy over its approval process, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas is hoping to get back on track with a new slate of research grants.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard one mother’s story about her son’s battle with cancer, and how she hopes newly approved funding from CPRIT will honor his dying wish and help usher in a new kind of treatment.


Sen. Dan Patrick is drawing new criticism for undocumented employees hired under his watch 30 years ago, but he’s not the only one under fire.

Harvey Kronberg provided us with an analysis of how recent negative political attacks in the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s races will affect votes in the primaries and even in the general election.


There’s a new voice in town when it comes to covering Texas politics. Brandon Darby, director of Breitbart Texas, joined us to discuss why the conservative outlet is expanding in an already red state. Plus, he talked about his experience infiltrating a group of protesters accused of planning to use Molotov cocktails at the 2008 GOP convention.

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Patrick ad touts border security amid undocumented worker dust-up

Sen. Dan Patrick is releasing a new statewide ad touting his stance on border security, on the same day a Dallas Morning News article is raising questions over undocumented workers once employed at one of his sports bars.

A private investigator hired by Patrick’s opponent Jerry Patterson located 48-year-old Miguel Andrade. Andrade told the paper that he and three other undocumented workers from Mexico worked one of Patrick’s Houston-area sports bars in the 1980s. He told the paper that while Patrick did not hire him personally, he was aware he was living in the country illegally and that “Patrick wrote him a letter of recommendation to help him establish temporary residency after a 1986 federal law offered amnesty for undocumented immigrants.”

Patrick, who is one of four Republicans vying for lieutenant governor, has been outspoken about the need to end illegal immigration across the Mexico border. Other parts of his platform include doing away with sanctuary cities, ending in-state tuition for undocumented students and prohibiting employers from knowingly employing undocumented workers.

He denies knowledge of Andrade’s status and is accusing his opponents of playing dirty politics. “They found a former employee of ours, out of hundreds, who says a manager, not me, hired him around 1984 as a dishwasher,” he said in a Facebook post. “The worker admits when required to fill out W4 employment forms he supplied false documents & social security number.” Patrick says the worker is also lying about other allegations, including that he offered to help Andrade visit Mexico.

You can watch Patrick’s new ad, below.

Capital Tonight: Party leaders explain odd ballot options

When voters head to the polls Tuesday, it’s not just candidates they’ll be choosing. At first glance, the option to repeal the Affordable Care Act or expand Medicaid are also on the ballot. However, the end result of that vote is a little more complex.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we talked to Republican and Democratic party leaders about how voters’ choices on primary ballot measures will impact Texas policy in the future, even if the results aren’t binding.


Lieutenant governor candidate Todd Staples joined us to highlight the differences between himself and the incumbent, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.


Harvey Kronberg joined us to examine the political strategy of Todd Staples’ ad, how a run off election would influence the lieutenant governor’s race, and why Ted Nugent matters in the governor’s race.

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Staples paints contrast with Dewhurst in new ad

Lt. Gov. candidate Todd Staples is taking the opportunity to distinguish himself from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in his newest television ad. The :30 spot started airing in select television markets today.

“David Dewhurst thanked the Obama administration for federal staples money,” the ad says. “Todd Staples sued Obama’s EPA to protect Texas jobs.”

You can watch the full ad, below.

Capital Tonight: The strategy behind all those campaign ads

Early voting for the march primary starts soon, but many of the advertisements airing on TV now were paid for months ago.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke to political experts about the strategy behind getting your attention.


From the Washington Post to the New York Times, Sen. Wendy Davis dominated headlines this week. Can she change the popular narrative on guns, abortion law and her life story? Robert Garrett of The Dallas Morning News, Emily Ramshaw of the Texas Tribune and Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report joined us to explore that question and more.



Plus, Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman researched a pair of statements by two candidates for lieutenant governor — all over the 17th Amendment.

Capital Tonight: Civil rights groups call for ban on tasers in schools

An incident at a Bastrop high school is prompting a larger debate over the use of tasers and pepper spray in Texas schools. Several civil rights groups want to ban what they’re calling “less-than-lethal” weapons. They called on the Texas Education Agency to take action to prohibit school officers from carrying the items on campuses, but the TEA has responded, saying it doesn’t have that authority.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we heard how lawmakers and state agencies are involved in the debate over school safety.


Lawmakers managed to avoid a government shutdown this week, but the complicated vote to get it passed may have widened the gap between Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. Our Capital Commentators, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, weighed in on that story and more.


Talk of changing Texas drug laws is gaining serious traction in Texas lately, but one Austin-area lawmaker been making the case for years. Rep. Elliott Naishtat joined us in-studio to elaborate on his call for changing how medical marijuana possession is prosecuted.

Patrick touts Christian conservative past in new ad

Sen. Dan Patrick released a new statewide television Thursday. Patrick, who is running for lieutenant governor, is touting his Christian conservative leadership in the Texas Senate.

Patrick points to several laws he sponsored during his time in the legislature, including the controversial sonogram bill in 2011 and legislation to include more faith-based language. “My faith means everything to me. That’s why I placed ‘In God we Trust’ in the Senate and ‘Under God’ in our state pledge.”

Patrick faces Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples in the March Republican primary. The winner will face Democrat Leticia Van de Putte in the general election.

Capital Tonight: Texas could play key role in fight over same-sex marriage

Two same-sex couples pleaded their case today in San Antonio against the Texas constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely between opposite-sex couples. The plaintiffs base their argument on equal opportunity rights provided in the U.S. Constitution.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at the possible outcomes of the case and the likelihood it will be appealed to the Supreme Court.


Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas, detailed how a federal judge struck down Kentucky’s gay marriage ban and how new federal rules announced by Attorney General Eric Holder will affect the LGBT community.


Harvey Kronberg examined how a comment by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and new support of medical marijuana from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis impact their electoral chances.

Capital Tonight: Candidates walk careful line on border issues

Attorney General Greg Abbott is standing by his comments comparing corruption in border communities to practices found in “third-world countries.” But he is clarifying that he wasn’t singling out the Rio Grande Valley.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how Abbott is dealing with the political backlash and heard how his fellow Republicans are responding.


He’s the only statewide-elected official among the three Republican candidates for attorney general, but Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman has a tough challenge ahead of him. We spoke one-on-one with Smitherman about his campaign, immigration reform and more.


While most candidates for statewide office are taking a tough stance on border security, some Republicans worry the tone of the conversation could alienate potential voters. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to talk about how the debate could shape future elections.


Capital Tonight: What’s next for UT system after Chancellor Cigarroa?

The University of Texas System will soon enter a new era. UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa formally announced that he will be stepping down from his position to return to medicine.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we heard from lawmakers who believe the move was possibly related to an unsuccessful push to remove UT Austin President Bill Powers. Plus, we looked at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ claim that Attorney General Greg Abbott didn’t do enough to fix the inadequate education funding during the last legislative session.


Agriculture Commissioner candidate Kinky Friedman joined us to explain how he believes hemp can replace cotton and why marijuana should be legal in Texas.


Harvey Kronberg joined us to comment on the day’s political news, plus a quote from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who says Texas could change into a blue state unless the GOP evolves.