Capital Tonight Staff

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Hinojosa: Texas is more than a ‘donor state’

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa believes the state can turn blue again, and he’s banking the Latino population can achieve that goal.

"Texas should not only be a donor state where people come and take money, but rather it should be a state that has a real possibility to turn blue for the Democratic party. A little bit of lovin,’ as I say, to the Texas Democratic Party, will result in big gains nationally for our Democratic party," Hinojosa told Paul Brown during "Capital Tonight," Monday.

Watch the video below to hear more from Hinojosa, including a look-ahead to Mayor Julian Castro’s keynote address.

Perry to reveal political plans after legislative session wraps

Capital Tonight’s Paul Brown sat down with Gov. Rick Perry Wednesday from the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Gov. Perry told us about his political aspirations and why he appointed Michael Williams as the state’s newest Education Commissioner.

Dewhurst running for Lt. Governor again in 2014

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst made an unexpected appearance at the Republican National Convention Tuesday, and made some news while he was there.

Dewhurst confirmed he will run for re-election in 2014, despite Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples also in the running for his job.

According to our crews on the ground, Dewhurst spoke to the Texas delegation Tuesday morning and pledged his support to his former rival Ted Cruz in the race to fill Kay Bailey Hutchison’s U.S. Senate seat.

Our Paul Brown just spoke with Dewhurst in Tampa. Here is his extended conversation.

A handful of state leaders have expressed interest in running for Dewhurst’s Lieutenant Governor seat, including Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.

YNN Political Reporter Alana Rocha caught up Staples just north of Tampa Tuesday. Check out her interview in the video below.

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.”

Tonight on Capital Tonight: Primary day nears

The Texas primary is right around the corner, and the candidates aren’t pulling any punches. Here’s a look at the stories we’re covering on tonight’s show.

U.S. Senate Debate

David Dewhurst, Ted Cruz, Tom Leppert and Craig James will debate again tonight in Houston, this time with Democratic candidates Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard on stage as well. The Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Public Media and the University of Houston are hosting the forum. Our reporter, Alana Rocha, will be live from outside the debate hall.

Big Money Politics

Campaigning across Texas is expensive, and this year there is more money than ever being pumped into the race. The reason: SuperPACs. Last week we looked at some of the negative ads flooding the airwaves.
Tonight, we’re digging deeper. We’ll talk to Rob Johnson, executive director of the Texas Conservatives Fund, a pro-Dewhurst SuperPAC.

Auma Obama

Tonight we will also be joined by someone who knows Pres. Obama like no one else: his half-sister. Auma Obama, who grew up in Kenya, met the president in her 20s. She’ll join us to talk about her brother, the First Lady and her recently written memoir.

Capital Commentators

As always, Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report, Democratic Strategist Harold Cook and Republican Strategist Ted Delisi will be here to give us their take on the week in state and national politics.

Travis County, five ways

Here’s a closer look at how Travis County will be divided in Congress according to a map released Tuesday:

Click the image to enlarge.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, gets more of Austin west of MoPac. McCaul said he’s happy with what the court decided. Here’s his statement on the map:

"I am pleased to see the San Antonio court adhered to the Supreme Court’s position. The Republican voting strength in CD10 is now over 60 percent, making this an even more conservative district than it was in the last election, which I won by 32 percentage points. I look forward to once again earning the support of mostly the same constituency that I have had the privilege to represent for nearly four terms."

Federal court issues new political maps

YNN’s Alana Rocha filed the above video report.

A federal court in San Antonio has issued new congressional and state House maps in time for Texas to hold a May 29 primary, and some minority groups are not happy.

LULAC told YNN they are specifically disappointed to see Travis County divided up into five different congressional districts.

A March 3 deadline had been set by election officials who said they needed maps before that day in order to keep the tentative primary date of May 29. The nine groups contesting the state’s political districts could still file an appeal.

Minority groups accused the Republican-controlled Legislature of drawing maps that discriminated against them. The state’s leaders say the maps merely give Republicans an advantage in the next election.

Click here to view the new map.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Politics overshadow policy in State of the Union response

President Obama’s State of the Union address was criticized harshly by Republican members of the Texas delegation.

Austin Representative Michael McCaul called Obama’s address "further evidence of broken promises" He released this statement:

"In his first State of the Union address, President Obama promised to cut our deficit in half by the end of his first term. Since then, he has presided over the largest debt increases in U.S. history. What we heard tonight was more rhetoric that doesn’t match his record. The president says he wants to strengthen our economy and create jobs; yet 28 bipartisan jobs bills passed by the House are still sitting in the Senate untouched. The president says he wants to achieve energy independence; yet he caved to political pressure and stopped the Keystone pipeline that would have created thousands of jobs and reduced our dependence on foreign oil. Since he took office, two million people have lost their jobs and nearly half of the American population is in poverty or considered low income. This is unacceptable.

"While we share the desire for long-term economic prosperity, this president’s policies of spend more, tax more and regulate more stifle job creation, diminish families’ disposable income and continue to bury future generations in deeper debt. His policies promote entitlement over empowerment, punishing those who take risk and rewarding those who take a handout. If the president wants to move this country forward, he should start by urging the Senate to act on our jobs bills and pass a budget for the first time in 1,000 days. Americans don’t need flashy slogans and a repeat performance of the last three years. They need action right now."

In his response, Sen. John Cornyn accused President Obama of putting the country on a path to "a European-style social democracy."

"Tonight’s speech highlighted the massive disconnect between the President’s priorities and the nation’s most pressing challenges. Rather than seriously address those challenges, the President went through a familiar wish list that both Congress and the American people have already rejected.

“Americans must decide whether we want to return to our roots as a beacon of entrepreneurial energy, or continue down a path towards a European-style social democracy. I’m confident that Texans will choose the first option, and that’s what I will continue to fight for here in Washington.”

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison also weighed in, accusing Obama failing to "address the fundamental solutions that would help get Americans back to work."

You can view Hutchison’s full video statement, below.

Huntsman dropping out, will endorse Romney

Jon Huntsman will endorse longtime rival Mitt Romney for president today after he drops out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination. The news broke late Sunday, just a day after Huntsman was endorsed by The State, a major South Carolina newspaper.

Huntsman campaign officials reportedly say he is endorsing Romney because "he believes Romney is the best candidate to beat President Barack Obama in November."

An announcement is expected during a planned 10 a.m. press conference from South Carolina. All of the GOP candidates will face off tonight in Myrtle Beach for a Fox News/Wall Street Journal debate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Paul looks to South Carolina after 2nd place finish in New Hampshire

Texas Congressman Ron Paul finished second in the New Hampshire Primary, behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and ahead of former Utah Gov. Jon Hunstman. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum both said their campaigns would continue after New Hampshire despite finishing below the top three.

The entire field looked like this:

• Romney: 40%
• Paul: 23%
• Huntsman: 17%
• Gingrich: 10%
• Santorum: 9%
• Perry: 1%

Paul said even though he came in second place, New Hampshire was a victory for his campaign.

"There was another victory tonight. [Mitt Romney] had a victory, but we have had a victory for the cause of liberty tonight," Paul told supporters. "There is no doubt that this whole effort that we are involved in will not go unnoticed let me tell you. The intellectual revolution that is going on now to restore liberty in this country is well on its way and there is no way they are going to stop the momentum that we have started."

YNN Political Reporter Alana Rocha has been following the Paul campaign and was in the room for his post-primary speech. She said Paul supporters are fired up.

Paul is now looking toward South Carolina. He has said he will not campaign in Florida, instead moving on to the February caucus states after Jan. 21. An email sent out from the Paul campaign right after his second place finish was announced asks for campaign contributions for the “South Carolina Money Bomb.”

You can watch all of Congressman Paul’s speech in the video below.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.