Archive for March, 2014

Capital Tonight: New fallout in debate over pay discrimination

The fight over equal pay for men and women continues in the race for governor, and the latest dust-up stems from an interview that aired here on Capital Tonight.

This time, Republican candidate Greg Abbott is responding to a statement made by Republican Party of Texas Executive Director Beth Cubriel about Democratic candidate Wendy Davis’ call for a state version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

“Is it really fair to clog up the courts with litigation that you can take through another avenue and put that ahead of litigation that can only go through the state courts? I don’t think so,” Cubriel said. “Men are better negotiators and I would encourage women, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators.”

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at the slew of responses that followed Cubriel’s statement, and what the business community says the argument should really be about.


Congressman Lloyd Doggett joined us in-studio to comment on the governor’s race, along with how enrollment numbers are adding up ahead of the looming March 31 deadline.

Plus, our Capitol Commentators, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, debated the significance of the fight over wage discrimination.


And new updates from Ukraine are coming in every minute. Global affairs professor Jeremi Suri joined us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, including a very specific role Texas could play.

Abbott campaign distances itself from RPT equal pay remarks

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is responding to controversial comments regarding pay equality by a top Republican Party of Texas official.

On Monday’s Capital Tonight, Executive Director Beth Cubriel said equal pay laws were unnecessary and the solution for pay discrimination lies outside of legislation. “Men are better negotiators and I would encourage women, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators.”

Those remarks drew a swift response from the Wendy Davis campaign and other Democratic groups, including the Lone Star Project, Battleground Texas and the Texas Democratic Party. They have been firing shots at Abbott over the issue since last week, when Abbott declined to say if he would have supported the Texas Equal Pay Act.

In a statement to Capital Tonight Tuesday afternoon, the Abbott campaign distanced itself from Cubriel’s remarks. Spokesman Matt Hirsch said: 

“Greg Abbott supports equal pay, and he supports Texas and federal law that provides legal avenues for victims of discrimination. The Texas Constitution and both state and federal law guarantee a woman’s right to equal pay in Texas. Equal pay is the law in Texas, and as Governor, Greg Abbott will continue to ensure it’s enforced.

Greg Abbott believes it’s inappropriate to ever blame the victim of discrimination, and he remains focused on ensuring greater prosperity and opportunity for all women and Texans. As a father of a teenage daughter and a husband to a former teacher, Greg Abbott will ensure that growing prosperity in Texas touches all families.”

Lawmakers passed a Texas version of the Lilly Ledbetter Act during the 2013 legislative session. The law allowed a discrimination suit to be filed when the wrong-doing is discovered. Under current law in Texas, there is a 180-day time frame to file such a lawsuit.

Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the legislation, saying it was unnecessary since a federal version already exists. Supporters of the bill, however, say the law would have allowed women to sue in state court, rather than federal court, which is easier and cheaper.



Capital Tonight: New group enters fray over pay discrimination

A new group is hoping to secure the votes of Texas women for Republicans, even as the Democratic party fields two female candidates at the top of the general election ticket.

The Red State Women PAC is putting its support behind Attorney General Greg Abbott for governor on issues ranging from pay discrimination to women’s health. In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we took a look at how the group is faring in a combative election environment.


Harvey Kronberg provided commentary on what to expect on the GOP ticket for the 2016 presidential election and why one Republican lieutenant governor candidate is backing out of a closed-door debate.


While the Green Party has maintained its platform and status as a grassroots organization, the party will also have a record number of Green candidates on the ballot this November. We took St. Patrick’s Day as an opportunity to check in on where the party stands.

Intern Showcase: The Prison of Drugs

In this short documentary TWC News Intern Matthew Bogard explores the interconnected relationship between drug policy and imprisonment rates. By examining previous political initiatives and prison statistics, this investigative report aims to determine what kind of narcotic penal system is the most effective. Additionally, this report focuses on the institutional incentives of private and state-run prisons to provide a comprehensive look at America’s prisons and drug laws.

Click the image below to watch.

Capital Tonight: Van de Putte muses on contentious Republican runoff race

One week after the primary polls closed, Republicans remain split over who to support in the lieutenant governor’s race. Sen. Dan Patrick soared passed incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, surprising pundits and forcing the race into a runoff.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at where support is coming from for both candidates. Plus, we spoke to Sen. Leticia Van de Putte about how a contentious runoff race could affect her campaign.


Sen. Wendy Davis’ campaign is bringing in some outside help to lead the communications team. We talked to Democratic strategist Harold Cook and Republican strategist Ted Delisi about that change, along with new lines of attack between the Davis and Greg Abbott campaigns.


Federal officials say more than four million people have signed up for health insurance through the online exchange since October, but the White House still needs more young people to sign up in order for the Affordable Care Act to work as planned.

A new video from comedian Zach Galifianakis might help in that effort. The fake community access interview with the president has gotten more than six million views so far, and White House officials say it’s driving record traffic to the website.

Davis campaign hires new communications director

Sen. Wendy Davis’ campaign is bringing in some outside help to run its communications operation. The campaign announced today Zac Petkanas will be the new communications director.

In February, the campaign said it would take action to correct its course, following some dust-ups with the Capitol press corps. Davis’ team was criticized after only select members of the media were allowed into a Travis County Democratic Party fundraiser in January. Davis took that opportunity to set the record straight over reports that she blurred some of the details of her personal story on the campaign trail.

At that time, the campaign said it would bring in an outsider to “right the ship” in the communications department. Other additions are being made to the communications staff as well. Sources close to the campaign say they’re trying to bring on board the best team possible to move the campaign forward and to help get Davis’ message out across the state. Petkanas has worked for Senate majority leader Harry Reid as well as the Nevada Democratic party.

Capital Tonight: Party leaders assess primary night results

It’s been a few days since the primary elections, and a few unanswered questions remain. Was Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ poor showing in South Texas a big concern for her party? And what about the Tea Party’s strong performance on the Republican side?

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we sat down with leadership from the Republican and Democratic parties to get their take on Tuesday night.


Gov. Rick Perry got the crowd fired up at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside of Washington Friday. We talked about his chances in a 2016 presidential race with Robert Garrett of The Dallas Morning News, Jonathan Tilove of the Austin American-Statesman and the Texas Tribune’s Reeve Hamilton.


Did Democratic nominee for county judge Sarah Eckhart turn down her raises as a commissioner? Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas put a recent claim on the matter to the test.

Capital Tonight: Patterson sounds off after primary loss

Whole Woman’s Health announced it is closing clinics in McAllen and Beaumont, due to restrictions placed on the facilities by an omnibus bill passed last session. Ten other clinics across the state have already closed since the law took effect.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we heard from both sides of the abortion debate about what to expect heading into September, when a new portion of the law could lead to more closures.


He might be out of the race for lieutenant governor, but Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has no plans to fade away quietly. He joined us for a one-on-one interview about his campaign, the runoff race, and his potential successor in the General Land Office, George P. Bush.


Plus, Democratic strategist Harold Cook and Republican strategist Ted Delisi weighed in on the stories that got overlooked on election night.

Capital Tonight: Dewhurst faces difficult path to victory

Now the underdog, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has only a few months to turn the tide against Sen. Dan Patrick, who led the polls on primary night. Patrick has positioned himself as the more conservative, Tea Party favored candidate.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we dug into last night’s primary election results, seeing how they will shape future Texas political races.


Director of the Texas Politics Project James Henson joined us to discuss why the UT/Texas Tribune poll was so off the mark compared to the actual results.


Harvey Kronberg with the Quorum Report spoke with us about how the primary election shows the strength and importance of various Texas groups like the Tea Party and Empower Texans.

Capital Tonight: 2014 primary race upsets expectations

Lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick will face incumbent David Dewhurst in a runoff in May. State Sen. Patrick won the top spot, doing better than projects polls expected.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we took a look at what several surprising primary outcomes mean for the nearing runoffs and the general election.


Democratic strategist Harold Cook and Republican strategist Ted Delisi provided explanations for why so many unanticipated results occurred.


From the Quorum Report, Harvey Kronberg and Scott Braddock, joined us to discuss what political strategies and narratives to look forward to in the governor’s race up until the general election in November.