Archive for May, 2014

Capital Tonight: Reassessing the ‘Tea Party vs. Establishment’ Narrative

If there was any consensus about the results of Tuesday night’s primary runoff elections, it’s that statewide candidates with Tea Party backing fared better than those without it. One exception to that rule was the race for railroad commissioner, where Ryan Sitton overcame a 12-point deficit in the March primaries to beat out former state Rep. Wayne Christian.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at some of the reasons behind Sitton’s win, and what they say about the grassroots conservative movement in Texas.


At the state House level, the Tea Party’s influence was less clear as well. We sat down with Erica Grieder of Texas Monthly and the Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey to discuss how factors like voter turnout and campaign strategy also played a role.

And we hear plenty of complaints about government spending, but did the Obama administration really spend $200,000 to move a shrub in San Francisco? Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to check that claim and more.

Capital Tonight: Party Officials Assess Runoff Results

The votes have been counted and the message is clear: Republican primary voters love the Tea Party, at least when it comes to statewide office. But will the larger voting public feel the same way in November?

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we took a closer look at Tuesday night’s primary runoff results to find out.


On the Democratic side, the attack strategies are already being put in motion, while Republicans are moving quickly to unify. We spoke Republican Party of Texas chairman Steve Munisteri and Texas Democratic Party spokesman Emmanuel Garcia to see how they view the results and where they plan to go from here.


At the House level, the Republican establishment fended off a number of attacks from the right Tuesday night. The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg talked about what it could mean for next session.

Capital Tonight: Political analysts preview primary runoff election night

It’s the day before the primary runoff election, where a handful of candidates have been in a fierce fight to win their party’s nomination.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we focused on the lieutenant governor’s race, along with what it could look like in the Senate next session, depending on who takes the gavel.


Plus, our Capital Commentators weighed in on some of the less publicized contests, including a noteworthy fact about the race for agriculture commissioner. 

Capital Tonight: Castro’s Nomination Sets Up ‘Domino Effect’ for Democrats

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro has accepted the president’s nomination to serve as secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In an announcement from the White House, President Barack Obama praised Castro for his leadership at the city level and said he had high hopes for his time in Washington.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at what the possible move means for not only Castro, but some of the state’s other Democratic up-and-comers.


With primary runoff elections just around the corner, some of the public vitriol in the lieutenant governor’s race appears to have died down, at least on television. We sat down with Robert Garrett of The Dallas Morning News, Morgan Smith of the Texas Tribune and KUT reporter Ben Philpott to discuss the race for the state’s second-highest office, along with some of the other races they’ll be keeping an eye on.


The promise to lower property taxes is a popular campaign line, but the state has limited power to control how fast they rise. We spoke to one expert in California, where a dramatic change to reduce property taxes led to unexpected consequences.

Capital Tonight: Lawmakers take on LCRA over water management plan

Two lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle are coming together over a critical water source found in both of their districts.

Republican Sen. Troy Fraser and Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson have put out a joint statement criticizing the Lower Colorado River Authority’s 2012 Water Management Plan, saying it “falls woefully short” of what is needed. In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we sat down with Sen. Fraser to hear his criticism of the LCRA’s proposal and what measures he believes would work better.


A new ad accuses Senator Wendy Davis of reaching for the stars in California for campaign cash. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on whether the accusation will stick.


As the technology for small, airborne craft known as drones becomes cheaper, more people are discovering that the rules surrounding their use are far from clear. Now, a Wimberley man has filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration to allow him to fly drones to help find missing persons. We looked at how unregulated the drone industry is, despite its growth.

Abbott ad strikes back at Davis using ‘Star Wars’

It’s no lightsaber duel, but the latest online ad from the Abbott campaign uses a little light and magic to tie his opponent to the dark side — otherwise known as Hollywood.

The minute-long ad makes the most of Sen. Wendy Davis’s trip to Santa Monica, Calif. today, where sci-fi directors J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg are hosting a fundraiser. The event costs a minimum of $1,000 to get in the door, and includes a fundraising bar of $25,000 for “VIP reception” status.

Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Republican Party of Texas have sought to portray Davis as out of touch with Texas voters by highlighting her out-of-state fundraising trips.

The ad’s YouTube page sums up the most recent attack: “A candidate for Texas governor rubbing elbows with gun-grabbing, ObamaCare-promoting, tax-raising Hollywood elites? It sounds like the plot of a sci-fi fantasy film, but when it comes to Sen. Wendy Davis, it’s a reality show.”

Watch the full ad below.


Capital Tonight: A Lesson in Texas’ Rare Impeachment Process

A Texas House panel took another careful step forward Wednesday, beginning the process of drawing up articles of impeachment for UT Regent Wallace Hall. Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry expressed his support for the embattled appointee, calling the committee’s efforts “overwhelming opposition from bureaucrats.”

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard more on how the impeachment process could move forward. Plus committee member Trey Martinez Fischer joined us in-studio to respond to the governor’s comments and talk about where things go from here.


The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg gave his take on a surprisingly cordial debate between the Republican runoff candidates for lieutenant governor.


House Republicans want to let some schools opt out of providing healthier food options if they’re losing money on the federal lunch program. But First Lady Michelle Obama has stepped in, vowing to fight attempts to roll back the standards. We heard from all sides of the debate, including how kids are responding.

Perry issues statement of support for Regent Hall

Gov. Rick Perry today issued a statement of support for UT System Regent Wallace Hall. A select House committee is drawing up articles of impeachment against Hall, who has been accused of conducting a “witch hunt” against UT Austin President Bill Powers.

Here’s the governor’s statement:

“Wallace Hall should be commended for his persistence – in the face of overwhelming opposition from bureaucrats – in trying to ensure the institutions of higher education under his purview are operating effectively, efficiently and within the law. Hall is doing exactly what every regent and every appointee in the State of Texas should be doing: asking tough questions, gathering facts and searching for the truth. Even the chairman of the Board of Regents has said Hall did not commit an impeachable offense or a crime. Texans should be outraged by his treatment, and deeply concerned it will have a chilling effect on those who are tasked with the oversight of state agencies and institutions that they are responsible for.”

Capital Tonight: Texas veterans’ group weighs in on VA hospital scandal

They’re a key part of the vote in any election, but this year, women voters are set to play an even bigger role. A new Republican group called Red State Women is hoping to draw more female voters to their side. Meanwhile, Texas Democrats are fronting two women at the top of the ticket and hoping issues like equal pay and reproductive rights will bring more women to the polls.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we heard from both Republican and Democratic leaders about what it takes to bring more women into the political fold.


With the race for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor coming down to the wire, can last-minute attacks shift the momentum? Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on that question and more.


The scandal over VA hospitals continues to grow, but does the problem stem from more than just the current leadership? We sat down with American Legion, Department of Texas adjutant Bill West to learn more.

UT regent says he will not resign

An embattled University of Texas regent is standing firm, despite calls for his resignation.

According to his lawyer, UT Regent Wallace Hall sent a letter to Chairman Paul Foster today, in response to Foster’s suggestion that he step down. The contents of the letter haven’t been released, but Hall made his opinions clear in a statement released afterward.

“Which approach benefits the UT System, asking the Board of Regents to address wrongdoing, or asking regents who uncover the wrongdoing to resign? Will the public ever know the truth about problems in our institutions if legislators are allowed to impeach Board members who reveal them?”

Hall is accused of abusing the power of his office while investigating UT President Bill Powers. He’s also the subject of an investigation by the Travis County District Attorney’s Office for his handling of confidential student information. Last week, Board of Regents Chairman Paul Foster asked Hall to step down but stopped short of a board vote of confidence, which could force Hall out.

Hall’s response comes two days before a House panel is expected to draw up articles of impeachment, which they could then send to the full House. If lawmakers follow through, Hall would be the first non-elected official to be removed from office in state history.