Alana Rocha

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Republicans expected to pay tribute to Ron Paul at RNC

Tuesday marked the end of the first official day of the 2012 Republican National Convention.

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In day two, expect to see another packed schedule. For Texas delegates, the day starts in Wesley Chapel, Fla. at the Saddlebrook resort. They will hear from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Comptroller Susan Combs and George P. Bush, son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Delegates are expected to arrive at the Tampa Bay Times Forum at 5 p.m. Central time Wednesday where they will start the day with a video tribute to Ron Paul as he completes his final term in Washington.

Paul’s son, Rand will also speak along with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Vice Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan.

Tune in for a special edition of Capital Tonight at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., where you can catch our one-on-one interview with Governor Rick Perry.

Sadler: Conservative tied to controversial ad offered support

Just before our weekly political show "Capital Tonight" went on the air Thursday, a report linking U.S. Senate Democratic nominee Paul Sadler to the Texas Conservatives Fund Super PAC surfaced.

The pro-Dewhurst Texas Conservatives Fund is the Super PAC that paid for the television spot linking then U.S. Senate Republican candidate Ted Cruz to a young man’s suicide.

Courtesy: Associated Press

In talking with Sadler’s staff directly, Doug Dodson detailed that Sadler was contacted by "somebody connected to the ad, but not with the Texas Conservatives Fund."

Not wanting to disclose the person’s identity, Dodson would not provide any further information only to say they reached out "to offer their support" in Sadler’s run against Cruz in the general election.

Dodson said Sadler declined the offer. He also clarified that any implication that the Texas Conservatives Fund offered money is incorrect.

Rob Johnson, the founder of the Texas Conservatives Fund, also confirmed that his Super PAC did not make such an offer.

Cruz secured the GOP nomination in Tuesday’s runoff election, beating out Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

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.”

Caro’s new LBJ biography a hot seller

It’s a work 10 years in the making–two-time Pultizer Prize winning author Robert Caro released his fourth biography on Lyndon Johnson this month.

"The Passage of Power" has flown off the shelves at area book stores.

“Some folks were commenting that it’s been about 10 years since the third volume, ‘Master of the Senate,’” Book People Manager Bryan Sansone said. “And folks have been waiting quite a while to get that in their hands.”

The staff at Book People in Downtown Austin say the first 25 copies of "The Passage of Power," signed by the author, flew off the shelves and sales have stayed steady since its May 1 release.

“I’ve always been interested in LBJ. I think he’s the most interesting and well, after FDR, the most important president of the 21st century,” Book People customer Tom Hackett said. “He tells a really good story, so I’ve been wanting to dive in, but I’m afraid it’s a huge undertaking.”

Roughly 3,500 pages, Caro’s latest book is his fourth volume depicting Johnson’s rise to power and what he did once he arrived in the country’s top seat.

“He did the right thing, but he also knew how to twist arms to do it. He wasn’t just a do-gooder. He was a do-gooder who was willing to use whatever means necessary to accomplish good,” Hackett said.

Robert Caro plans to publish a fifth volume of the "The Years of Lyndon Johnson." No word yet on when the last installment will be released.

Perry to lawmakers: No new taxes or increases

More than eight months before the Texas Legislature reconvenes, Gov. Rick Perry warned lawmakers he’d oppose any new taxes or increases in taxes already on the books.

Perry appeared Monday at New World Van Lines Inc., a Houston moving company which he says is typical of businesses with annual revenues of less than $1 million.

"What I’m calling for is really quite simple. As the stewards of Texas we should practice truth-in budgeting, support a stricter constitutional limit on spending, oppose any and all new taxes or tax increases, preserve the Rainy Day Fund and cut wasteful and redundant government programs and agencies," the governor said.

In his speech, Perry said companies like New World Van Lines would benefit from a business tax exemption which he believes should be made permanent.

"Keeping taxes low is an essential part of what’s made Texas the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family, and that’s not going to change on my watch," Gov. Perry said.

The $5.4 billion cut from the state’s public school system last year prompted Chris Frandsen to run for the Texas House District 47 seat.

“If he really goes through with this or tries to run this through, his principles are basically running over the school children in Texas,” Frandsen said. “If he does it again, he’s really going to kill public education. I really believe this is going to be one of the most important elections in the history of Texas.”

The Travis County Democrat says lawmakers should have dipped into the $7.3 billion dollar Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget.

Instead, according to the Texas State Teacher’s Association, 25,000 tax-paying school employees have lost their jobs. Almost 11,000 of those were teachers.

Also, there are more than 8,400 overcrowded elementary classrooms packed with more students than state law allows, and several neighborhood schools are marked for closure.

“There’s waste. That’s waste led by Republicans,” Frandsen said. “Cutting the budgets of the public school boards that are elected by the citizens of Texas is not the answer.”

The governor also said a good chunk of the state budget is geared toward Medicaid costs and that will only increase if the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t throw out President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The Legislature won’t reconvene until January, but Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said “It’s never too early to start looking at these issues.”

Nashed said Perry wants to make clear to lawmakers what must be done to ensure the state will be in good financial shape heading into next year.

Texas is operating on a two-year budget lawmakers passed last year that included state spending cuts of almost $15 billion.

Click here for more information on Gov. Perry’s budget compact.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

DC court reconsiders ‘Doggett District’

The court in Washington DC, charged with pre-clearing the redistricting maps Texas lawmakers drew during the last legislative session, is asking for further explanation on the so-called "Doggett District."

The Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force (TLRTF) is arguing that U.S. Congressional District 25 is not a coalition district and therefore not protected under the Voting Rights Act.

A coalition district happens when more than one group of racial minorities or language minorities exist in an area and come together to elect a candidate of the coalition’s choice.

TLRTF wants the DC District Court court to see that CD 25 is an "Anglo majority district in which Anglo voters dominate the Democratic Party."

It has until March 13 to submit further documentation in support of that claim. That date is leading some in the know to believe the DC court will issue its ruling on the maps a couple of days later.

Lead League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) prosecutor on the redistricting case, Luis Vera, Jr., is among those who think the DC court will act within the next week. If that happens and the judges rule CD 25 is in fact protected and should go back to its bench mark boundaries (the pre-redistricting or base map version), everything else would shift as a result.

Vera said TLRTF is the lone actor in making this claim on CD 25; adding that LULAC believes CD 25 should be protected for its minority population make up as a coalition district.

That would mean the current interim maps federal judges in San Antonio issued last month would likely change and push back the primary election date once again. Right now, the parties are planning for a May 29th election.

County officials from across the state have testified in court they would need as many as 10 weeks from when the final maps come out to properly prepare for an election.

So coming out of Super Tuesday, it looked like Texas could be a tie-breaking state with 155 delegates up for grabs. Though if the primary happens say, after June 5, the date of California’s election -a state with even more delegates, 172- the Lone Star State’s role in determining the GOP presidential nominee would be further diminished.

Lake Jackson residents take pride in Ron Paul

Some call Ron Paul’s message radical, but regardless, Texans in his congressional district seem to love him.

Paul has served in and for the coastal stretch of Texas known as Lake Jackson. It’s a town with plenty of industry and small town values. Residents have trusted Paul to represent them well in Washington.

"He pretty much has the same family values. You know, most of the kids in Lake Jackson were born by him," resident Rex Hewitt said. "Of course we’ve given up a lot because he doesn’t take a lot of the pork that other congressmen will take. We haven’t received all of the benefits that the federal government could give us, but we’re independent. We really don’t want it."

Paul has made a life in Lake Jackson. He’s worked as an OB/GYN, state lawmaker, U.S. congressman and most recently as a GOP presidential contender.

"As a congressman, he was known as Mr. No. He was not real apt to go on with a lot of political bargaining, but he always did well for our area," resident Amy Payne said.

But long-time constituents, who’ve re-elected him nearly a dozen times, aren’t so sure his approach can be effective as president.

"Like getting rid of the Fed. That’s very radical for our nation and a lot of people want to keep some part of that,” Payne said. "I think they’ll be parties that won’t be as willing to work with him."

Lake Jackson residents say Americans may not be willing to embrace so much change right away, but they’re happy he’s running.

"He probably won’t win, but he’s showing the American people, hey, you need to take a look at these other ways to look at it," Hewitt said.

When Paul is not busy on the presidential campaign trail, people in Lake Jackson say it’s not unusual to see him riding his bike around town.

Settlements looming in redistricting debate

The fight over newly drawn political maps in Texas is shifting back to San Antonio to see if a statewide April 3 primary can be salvaged.

Both the state and minority groups suing over the Republican-drawn maps were back in a San Antonio federal courtroom Friday. At issue again is when Texas will hold its primary after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, but the latest proposed date is in doubt.

The uncertainty has revived the potential of a split primary, in which Texas would still hold its presidential primary as early as possible to maintain influence in the Republican nomination.

Elections officials, however, have warned that doing so would double the taxpayer costs.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s re-election campaign has been affected by the map. The boundaries of his own District 25 are still not set in stone.

"Certainly, I think that one primary as soon as possible is in everyone’s interests, but the primary concern is to protect the principles of the Voting Rights Act," he said.

Everyone in the courtroom Friday agreed with Doggett, and for the first time, top state officials began initiating settlement talks.

"The attorney general started calling last night. Greg Abbott personally called some of the plaintiffs to see if it was possible to settle. They’re going to get nailed pretty hard and they’re going to lose most of the state," Luis Roberto Vera Jr. with the LULAC National General Counsel said.

The judges’ panel issued a Feb. 6 deadline Friday for the state and list of plaintiffs to agree on a shorter list of districts in dispute.

"I think the message that everyone got here was that the courts are moving as quickly as possible and they really tried to make that clear today,” Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said. “I got the impression that they were running in place today."

The San Antonio panel reached out to the DC court during Friday’s hearing to see when it might have its decision on the maps.

All indications point to a ruling within a week to 10 days.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Republicans fill South Carolina for Saturday primary

Days out from the South Carolina primary, Republicans from more than a dozen southern states are descending on the Palmetto State to meet, network and continue vetting the GOP presidential candidates.

More than 2,000 Republicans from all over the south are already in Charleston for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

Ruth Ulich, the chair of the conference, says South Carolina voters will have a more conservative perspective in mind when they head to the polls, differing from Iowa and New Hampshire voters.

“Southern voters tend to be very conservative, so I believe that is what you will see play out,” she said. “I believe there are three legs of being a complete conservative, whether it’s a strong national security, whether it’s the debt and the money problems, or whether it’s social issues—those are the three things that come together that make a complete conservative.”

The conference runs from Thursday until Saturday, just in time for election watch parties.

Paul cuts New Hampshire campaign stop short

GOP hopefuls are now in their final push in New Hampshire.

Voters will hit the polls Tuesday, and many haven’t decided on a candidate just yet. The latest poll in the state shows Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum encroaching on Ron Paul’s second place status.

Paul’s campaign held three events Monday, but that was not nearly as many some of the other GOP hopefuls. Santorum held five events Monday, Huntsman held seven and Newt Gingrich also held seven.

Candidates hoped to offer more opportunities for undecided voters to meet them, but with cameras everywhere, Monday was not exactly how Ron Paul anticipated meeting New Hampshire voters.

Paul tried to outsmart the media by sneaking in a side door at Moe Joe’s Breakfast Nook in Manchester. He shook the hands of some high school seniors for a time and then left.

"I shook his hand. That’s about all I got to see of him. He passed by. Everyone’s already swarming around him," one person said.

The overwhelming attention on the man who’s running a distant second in New Hampshire to Mitt Romney was too much to even move around the event.

When the first of three events of Paul’s campaign ended prematurely, voters weren’t so happy.

"[I’m] just disappointed he didn’t come in. He’s got to eat breakfast somewhere. Why didn’t he eat right here — you know, a couple tables over from me. That would’ve been great," Jim Barr, a Paul supporter, said.

Much like Iowa, it’s all about retail politics in New Hampshire. Voters want candidates to be out shaking hands and giving them an up-close and personal encounter, but Paul’s primary eve schedule may not have afforded enough New Hampshire Republicans the chance to form an opinion before Tuesday.

Statement from Ron Paul campaign on morning incident in Manchester, NH:

“Dr. Paul has been committed to meeting one on one with New Hampshire voters, and has aggressively campaigned at town halls, house parties, and meet and greets since early last spring.

This morning, he attempted to hold an event at Moe Joe’s Diner in Manchester, to speak with patrons and supporters in the last push before the New Hampshire primary. Unfortunately, Dr. Paul and his family were forced to leave early after over 120 members of the press created a mob-like atmosphere that was deemed to be unsafe for the candidate, Moe Joe’s customers, and reporters themselves.

The campaign had planned to cover our normal degree of media interest, which is always ample. However, a significant increase in the press corps, largely driven by an influx of foreign journalists, exceeded all expectations.

Mrs. Paul herself, attempting to campaign alongside her husband, was shoved aside by one reporter and told to ‘get out of the way.’

While we are very welcoming of media coverage and grateful for the interest in Dr. Paul and his campaign, basic safety simply must come first. On behalf of Dr. Paul and his campaign team, I would like to apologize to customers at Moe Joe’s who may have been distressed by this incident, and extend our gratitude and apologies to the owners, who were kind enough to have us.

We ask the press, at all upcoming events over the next day and a half, to be respectful of both Dr. Paul and of New Hampshire voters, who are entitled to examine their candidates in a safe and responsible atmosphere."