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Election Day 2016: Texas Races We’re Watching

The day has finally arrived. Election Day 2016. It’s hard to believe that this election cycle started in March 2015 with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announcing his candidacy at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

 

Overall, Texas saw quite a bit of action during this election season. The state had five presidential candidates with Texas ties. Former Governor Rick Perry, native Texan Jeb Bush, Austin-born Carly Fiorina and Sen. Rand Paul who grew up in Texas and went to Baylor University joined Sen. Cruz in the crowded field of 17 Republican candidates.

 

But in the end, Donald Trump won the GOP nomination and Hillary Clinton became the Democrats’ nominee.

 

While much of the last few months have been solely focused on that contentious presidential race, there are several state races that could end in upsets for the incumbents.

 

Here’s a list of the races we are watching tonight:

Congressional District 23 – San Antonio

Republican Rep. Will Hurd vs. Democrat Pete Gallego

 

State House Races

San Antonio

Republican Rep. John Lujan vs. Democrat Tomas Uresti

Republican Rep. Rick Galindo vs. Democrat Phil Cortez

 

North Texas

Republican Rep. Rodney Anderson vs. Democrat Terry Meza

Republican Rep. Kenneth Sheets vs. Democrat Victoria Neave

Republican Rep. Linda Koop vs. Democrat Laura Irvin

Republican Rep. Cindy Burkett vs. Rhetta Andrews Bowers

Republican Rep. Jason Villalba vs. Democrat Jim Burke

 

Kingsville

Republican Rep. J.M. Lozano vs. Democrat Marisa Yvette Garcia-Utley

 

Pasadena
Republican Rep. Gilbert Pena vs. Democrat Mary Ann Perez
Galveston

Republican Rep. Wayne Faircloth vs. Democrat Lloyd Criss
Houston

Republican Rep. Sarah Davis vs. Democrat Ben Rose

 

Central Texas

Republican Rep. Tony Dale vs. Democrat Paul Gordon

Republican Rep. Paul Workman vs. Democrat Ana Jordan
Even if Democrats do pick up a few Texas House seats, the balance of power is still firmly in Republicans’ grip at the Texas Legislature.

 

Join us at 6 p.m. tonight for complete coverage of the presidential, state and local races.

 

 

Cruz Will Vote for Trump

After the bitter back and forth during the presidential campaign, Sen. Ted Cruz said he’s searched his own conscience and will vote for Donald Trump in November.

“After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump,” Cruz said in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

 

Trump quickly responded to Cruz’s endorsement saying:

“I am greatly honored by the endorsement of Senator Cruz. We have fought the battle and he was a tough and brilliant opponent. I look forward to working with him for many years to come in order to make America great again.”

 

 

Here’s Cruz’s full statement:

This election is unlike any other in our nation’s history. Like many other voters, I have struggled to determine the right course of action in this general election.

In Cleveland, I urged voters, “please, don’t stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket whom you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”

After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

I’ve made this decision for two reasons. First, last year, I promised to support the Republican nominee. And I intend to keep my word.

Second, even though I have had areas of significant disagreement with our nominee, by any measure Hillary Clinton is wholly unacceptable — that’s why I have always been #NeverHillary.

Six key policy differences inform my decision. First, and most important, the Supreme Court. For anyone concerned about the Bill of Rights — free speech, religious liberty, the Second Amendment — the Court hangs in the balance. I have spent my professional career fighting before the Court to defend the Constitution. We are only one justice away from losing our most basic rights, and the next president will appoint as many as four new justices. We know, without a doubt, that every Clinton appointee would be a left-wing ideologue. Trump, in contrast, has promised to appoint justices “in the mold of Scalia.”

For some time, I have been seeking greater specificity on this issue, and today the Trump campaign provided that, releasing a very strong list of potential Supreme Court nominees — including Sen. Mike Lee, who would make an extraordinary justice — and making an explicit commitment to nominate only from that list. This commitment matters, and it provides a serious reason for voters to choose to support Trump.

Second, Obamacare. The failed healthcare law is hurting millions of Americans. If Republicans hold Congress, leadership has committed to passing legislation repealing Obamacare. Clinton, we know beyond a shadow of doubt, would veto that legislation. Trump has said he would sign it.

Third, energy. Clinton would continue the Obama administration’s war on coal and relentless efforts to crush the oil and gas industry. Trump has said he will reduce regulations and allow the blossoming American energy renaissance to create millions of new high-paying jobs.

Fourth, immigration. Clinton would continue and even expand President Obama’s lawless executive amnesty. Trump has promised that he would revoke those illegal executive orders.

Fifth, national security. Clinton would continue the Obama administration’s willful blindness to radical Islamic terrorism. She would continue importing Middle Eastern refugees whom the FBI cannot vet to make sure they are not terrorists. Trump has promised to stop the deluge of unvetted refugees.

Sixth, Internet freedom. Clinton supports Obama’s plan to hand over control of the Internet to an international community of stakeholders, including Russia, China, and Iran. Just this week, Trump came out strongly against that plan, and in support of free speech online.

These are six vital issues where the candidates’ positions present a clear choice for the American people.

If Clinton wins, we know — with 100% certainty — that she would deliver on her left-wing promises, with devastating results for our country.

My conscience tells me I must do whatever I can to stop that.

We also have seen, over the past few weeks and months, a Trump campaign focusing more and more on freedom — including emphasizing school choice and the power of economic growth to lift African-Americans and Hispanics to prosperity.

Finally, after eight years of a lawless Obama administration, targeting and persecuting those disfavored by the administration, fidelity to the rule of law has never been more important.

The Supreme Court will be critical in preserving the rule of law. And, if the next administration fails to honor the Constitution and Bill of Rights, then I hope that Republicans and Democrats will stand united in protecting our fundamental liberties.

Our country is in crisis. Hillary Clinton is manifestly unfit to be president, and her policies would harm millions of Americans. And Donald Trump is the only thing standing in her way.

A year ago, I pledged to endorse the Republican nominee, and I am honoring that commitment. And if you don’t want to see a Hillary Clinton presidency, I encourage you to vote for him.

—————–

Watch Capital Tonight at 7 for full analysis from our reporter roundtable on Cruz’s decision to endorse Trump.

Judge Blocks Obama’s Transgender Guidelines for Schools

A federal judge in Fort Worth temporarily blocked the Obama’s administration’s guidelines directing the nation’s public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that conform to their gender identity. It comes as millions of Texas students head back to class this week.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor issued the preliminary injunction late Sunday.

The judge ruled the directive violated federal notice and comment requirements noting the administration didn’t follow proper rule-making procedures in crafting the guidelines.

Texas led a 13-state coalition asking that the guidelines be stopped after the federal government issued the directive in May.

While the injunction applies nationwide, the judge said states that have chosen to accommodate transgender students “will not be impacted.”

Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded the decision. Here’s his response:

“We are pleased that the court ruled against the Obama Administration’s latest illegal federal overreach. This President is attempting to rewrite the laws enacted by the elected representatives of the people, and is threatening to take away federal funding from schools to force them to conform. That cannot be allowed to continue, which is why we took action to protect States and School Districts, who are charged under state law to establish a safe and disciplined environment conducive to student learning.”

 

You can read the judge’s 38-page order here.

Watch Capital Tonight at 7 for reaction from both sides of the issue, plus we discuss what happens next.

Texas Republican Leaders Plan to Participate in Trump’s Austin Rally

Donald Trump will take the stage in Austin next week. His campaign announced Friday morning that he’ll hold a rally at the Travis County Expo Center following a fundraising event in town earlier that day. It’s Trump’s first public event in Texas since becoming his party’s nominee. The rally is schedule for 7:30 Tuesday night.

 

We reached out to top Texas Republican leaders to see who plans to join him. Governor Greg Abbott’s team said he won’t be able to attend the events because he has a previously scheduled treatment visit at the San Antonio burn unit.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is a yes. So is Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who’s team said he’s been coordinating with the Trump campaign and will possibly speak at one of the events.

We haven’t heard of Land Commissioner George P. Bush’s plans yet.

Former Governor Rick Perry has been a big Trump backer and will attend the fundraising event prior to the rally. A spokesman said he won’t be able to attend the rally due to a previously scheduled out-of-town commitment.

Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign, not surprisingly, told us he will not be in attendance.

 

Meanwhile, Texas Democrats were quick to question who would welcome Trump to the state. Lone Star Project Director Matt Angle said in a news release:

“The biggest question for Texas voters:  Will Texas Republican leaders show up? Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, George P. Bush, Sid Miller and indicted AG Ken Paxton have all endorsed the divisive and destructive GOP nominee—will they welcome Trump to Texas and take the stage with him on Tuesday? Will Republicans who have been “waiting” on Trump – like Will Hurd in Congressional District 23 –  finally guts up and join Trump, or keep hiding behind weak, passive and dishonest excuses?”

 

 

 

PPP Survey: Perry Could Beat Cruz in 2018

A new poll released Wednesday suggests Texas voters would pick former Governor Rick Perry over Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. The democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling survey shows Perry would beat Cruz by nine percentage points in the race for US Senate. The poll found Perry would get 46 percent of the vote, Cruz 37 percent and 18 were not sure who they would pick.

 

Speculation has been growing about who might challenge Cruz in 2018 after a failed presidential bid and frustration from some supporters after he refused to endorse Republican nominee Donald Trump at their party’s convention last month. Of those surveyed, 39 percent said they approved of the job Cruz was doing, while 48 percent disapprove. Still, 50 percent of Texas Republican voters surveyed said they want Cruz as the Republican candidate for Senate in 2018. Forty-three percent said they would like someone else.

 

The poll also matched Cruz up against two other potential challengers, Republican Congressman Michael McCaul and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. Cruz beat McCaul 51 to 19 percent. The state’s junior senator is also ahead of Patrick 49 to 27 percent.

 

When put up against a Democrat, Cruz also wins. He beats both US Housing Secretary Julian Castro and former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis by 12 points.

 

PPP surveyed 944 likely Texas voters from August 12-14. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.2 percent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump Holds Narrow Lead Over Clinton in Texas

Donald Trump has a relatively narrow lead over rival Hillary Clinton in a new Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday. In a head-to-head matchup, Trump leads by just six points, 50 to 44 percent. In 2016, Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by 16 points.

When you include minor party candidates, the margin remains the same with Trump at 44 percent to Clinton’s 38 percent. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson received 6 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein got 2 percent.

PPP is a democratic-leaning firm based in North Carolina. It points out that a Democratic victory in Texas this year is still a stretch but the numbers show “there are signs of Democrats being positioned to become seriously competitive in the years ahead.”

The poll shows that Trump’s advantage is “based entirely” on a wide lead over Clinton among seniors, 63 to 33 percent. Clinton leads Trump with voters under 65, 49 to 45 percent.

The poll of 944 likely voters was conducted Friday through Sunday. It has a margin of error of 3.2 percent.

 

Trump Taps Perry, Miller to Advise on Agriculture

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has tapped several Texans to advise him on agriculture policy as he campaigns for the White House. He announced his new Agriculture Advisory Committee Tuesday. Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller had already made public his position with Trump’s agriculture team. But this is the first time we’ve heard former Governor Rick Perry will be part of it. The 64-member team also includes several other prominent Texans.

 

In a news release, the Trump campaign said the committee “will provide pioneering new ideas to strengthen our nation’s agricultural industry as well as provide support to our rural communities.”

“The members of my agricultural advisory committee represent the best that America can offer to help serve agricultural communities,” Trump said in a statement. “Many of these officials have been elected by their communities to solve the issues that impact our rural areas every day. I’m very proud to stand with these men and women, and look forward to serving those who serve all Americans from the White House.”

 

Here’s the complete list of Trump’s agriculture team (* indicates Texans on panel):

 

Charles Herbster – National Chairman of the Agricultural and Rural Advisory Committee for the Donald J. Trump Campaign for President

Sam Clovis – National Chief Policy Advisor for the Donald J. Trump Campaign for President

Rebeckah Adcock –CropLife, Senior Director, Government Affairs

Robert Aderholt – Congressman from Alabama; Chairman, Subcommittee on Agriculture

Jay Armstrong – Kansas Wheat Commission; Chairman, Farm Foundation

Gary Black – Commissioner Agriculture, Georgia

John Block – Former Sec. of USDA

*Mike Brandenburg – State Legislator, North Dakota

Terry Branstad – Governor of Iowa

Sam Brownback – Governor of Kansas

Chuck Conner – CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

Mike Conaway – House Agriculture Chairman

Jack Dalrymple – Governor of North Dakota

Dennis Daugaard – Governor of South Dakota

Rodney Davis – Congressman from Illinois; House Agriculture committee and Subcommittee Chair of Bio Tech

Mary Fallin – Governor of Oklahoma

Eddie Fields – Senator, Oklahoma; Chair Senate Ag and Rural Development

Steve Foglesong – Former President National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

Jim Gilmore – Former Governor Virginia; Chairman of Report on Terrorism and Agro-Terrorism

Bob Goodale – Former CEO of Harris Teeter

Bob Goodlatte – Congressman, Virginia; Former Chairman House Agriculture Committee

Mike Green – State Senator, Michigan; Appropriations Agriculture Chair; Senate Agriculture Committee Vice Chair

*Helen Groves – Rancher; daughter of Robert Kleberg (King Ranch); Well known in TX/ranching world

Ron Heck – Iowa farmer and Past President of the American Soybean Assoc.

Dave Heineman – Former Gov. Nebraska

Hans Hunts – State Legislator, Wyoming; Wyoming House Ag Committee; Rancher

Cindy Hyde – Smith – Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, Mississippi

Brent Jackson – State Senator, North Carolina

A.G. Kawamura – Former Sec. Food & Agriculture, California

John Kautz – California wine producer; CEO Ironstone Vineyards

Charlotte Kelly – Tennessee cotton grower along with her husband (14,000 acres) plus operating a cotton gin processing 30,000 plus bales and a leader in the cotton industry

Mark Killian – Commissioner of Agriculture, Arizona; Farmer and rancher AZ

Brian Klippenstein – Protect the Harvest

Tsosie Lewis – Former CEO of Navaho Nation’s Agricultural Products Industries

Forrest Lucas – CEO Lucas Oil; Protect the Harvest

Mike McCloskey – CEO Fair Oaks Farms- one of largest dairies in U.S.

Beau McCoy – State Senator; Nebraska Nat. Chr. Council State Govts

Ted McKinney – Former Director of Global Corp. Affairs for Elanco Animal Health

*Sid Miller – Commissioner of Agriculture, Texas

Jim Moseley – Former consultant on agriculture at EPA; Former Deputy Secretary of USDA

Brian Munzlinger – Chairman Missouri Senate Ag Committee

Casey Murdock – State Senator, Oklahoma

Tom Nassif – President Western Growers; Former Ambassador

Garry Niemeyer – Former President National Corn Growers

Bill Northy – Secretary of Ag, Iowa

Sonny Perdue – Former Gov. Georgia

*Rick Perry – Former Gov. Texas

Ryan Quarles – Commissioner of Agriculture, Kentucky

Bruce Rastetter – Summit Ag Group of Alden, Iowa; Hosted first Republican Presidential debate

Jim Reese – Secretary of Agriculture for Gov. Mary Fallin of OK

Larry Rhoden – Senator South Dakota; House Majority Leader and Sen Majority Whip; Chair Senate Ag Committee

Pete Ricketts –Governor of Nebraska

Pat Roberts – U.S. Senator Kansas

Marcus Rust – CEO Rose Acre Farms- second largest egg producer in U.S.

Leslie Rutledge – Attorney General, Arkansas; Co-Chair of the National Association of Attorney General Agriculture Committee and is married to a soybean producer

David Spears – Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Dole Ag Advisor; Senior Vice President, Mid-Kansas Cooperative, Inc.

Dr. Mike Strain – Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, Louisiana

*Red Steagall – Official Cowboy Poet of Texas

Annette Sweeney – Former Iowa House Agriculture, Chair; Farmer; Agriculture Advocate

Kip Tom – CEO, Tom Farms LLC-Largest Agri-Business farm operator in Indiana; Operates farms in South America

*Johnny Trotter – CEO of BarG- 125,000 feedlot operation and farms 10,0000 acres in TX

Steve Wellman – Former President of the American Soybean Association

Walt Whitcomb – Ag Commissioner, Maine

John Wilkinson – Chairman, Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee Georgia State Senate

Sen. Cornyn Talks Trump, Police Protection and Presses AG Lynch

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn says he’s concerned about what the top of the ticket could mean for down ballot races.

 

The Texas senior senator was in Austin Friday pushing for police protection. He highlighted his Police Act legislation that was signed into law last month. It would allow local law enforcement and first responders to use federal grant funding for active shooter response training.

 

But Cornyn was also asked about his party’s nominee Donald Trump. While Cornyn says he supports him, he told reporters the rhetoric on both sides needs to change.

“Instead it’s been a battle of personalities which I don’t think has served the American people very well,” Cornyn said. “I would like to hear both from Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump on how they would govern if elected and we’ve been given more of a personality clashing contest than a real policy discussion, which I’d like to see.”

 

Meanwhile, Cornyn is also asking the US Attorney General for answers on why the Department of Justice didn’t open a case on the Clinton Foundation.

Cornyn sent a letter to AG Loretta Lynch Friday with a series of questions stemming from a CNN report this week.

That report showed FBI officers approached the DOJ about opening a case on the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department.

 

“This kind of conduct is unacceptable, and reflects the worst concerns harbored by the public about the abuse of government office to benefit the powerful at the expense of the American people,” Sen. Cornyn wrote. “It violates the commitment Secretary Clinton made to Congress and the Executive Branch following her nomination to be Secretary of State. That and her proven record of extreme carelessness with national security warrant a careful examination of Secretary Clinton’s other conduct, and that of her staff.”

 

Below is Sen. Cornyn’s full letter:

 

The Honorable Loretta Lynch

Attorney General

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20530

 

Dear Attorney General Lynch:

 

Last month, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) James B. Comey publicly announced his recommendation to the Department of Justice (the Department) that it not pursue a criminal indictment of former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, for her decision to conduct her email while in office on a private, unsecured and secret server. Mr. Comey described Secretary Clinton’s extreme carelessness and the fact that she put our national security at risk. You followed the FBI’s recommendation and decided not to press charges.

 

On August 9th, CNN reported that, earlier this year, the FBI asked the Department to open a case and support a criminal investigation into the Clinton Foundation and its related entities. As the press have reported widely and emails released over the past few days confirmed, representatives of the Foundation repeatedly sought special treatment for its donors and associates from senior officials at the State Department. These matters were attended to by Secretary Clinton’s inner circle of advisors, including Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin. (Ms. Abedin was reportedly also paid simultaneously by the State Department and an entity closely linked to the Foundation.)

 

This kind of conduct is unacceptable, and reflects the worst concerns harbored by the public about the abuse of government office to benefit the powerful at the expense of the American people. It violates the commitment Secretary Clinton made to Congress and the Executive Branch following her nomination to be Secretary of State. That and her proven record of extreme carelessness with national security warrant a careful examination of Secretary Clinton’s other conduct, and that of her staff.

 

When the FBI recommended that you not pursue a criminal indictment of Secretary Clinton for her emails, you followed their recommendation. Yet, according to the CNN report, the Department’s Public Integrity Unit refused to open a case and pursue criminal charges regarding the Clinton Foundation when the FBI recommended doing so. The practice is not clear, but the outcome in both cases favors Secretary Clinton.

 

This contrast does little to instill faith in the Department, part of why I called for an appointment of the Special Counsel in the email matter. But greater clarity for the public on the basis for your decision may. With that in mind, please respond to the following questions by August 25, 2016:
Is the CNN report accurate?

 

When did the FBI recommend that the Department open a case and pursue criminal charges related to the Clinton Foundation?

 

Why did the FBI recommend that the Department open a case on the Clinton Foundation?

 

Which Department employees, in the Public Integrity Unit or elsewhere, were involved in the decision not to open a case on the Clinton Foundation?

 

In the earlier reported investigation by the Department, which violations of criminal law were considered? And why did the Department decide not to open a case?

 

In your recent private meeting with former President Bill Clinton, did you discuss anything regarding the Clinton Foundation? If so, please indicate what was discussed.

 

Congressman Castro on Sen. Cruz: “He Freaked Out”

Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro will take the main stage on the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. First, he spoke to Texas delegates at their morning breakfast.

 

Castro made headlines earlier this week when he more definitively said he was looking into running for US Senate in 2018 against Sen. Ted Cruz. Thursday morning he told reporters Cruz has made Washington worse.

“Ted Cruz said he’d go to Washington and change Washington and he has. He’s made it worse, much worse,” Castro said.

 

Cruz sent out a fundraising email earlier this week after Castro mentioned he’s looking at running against him. Castro responded, “He freaked out. He freaked out when he read that. That’s what I would expect from someone who hasn’t spent any time working for the people of Texas.”

 

In that email to supporters Cruz said the Castro brothers have the support of the mainstream media and Washington establishment.

“This November, it is critical we elect conservatives up and down the ballot in order to prevent a liberal takeover of Washington, DC,” Cruz said.

 

 

Castro said he’d make a decision on running for Senate in the next several months.

 

The Texas Congressman also gave some insight into his speech tonight. He told reporters he’s going to talk about the difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and the fact that she will build opportunity in America and if he’s elected, he’s going to tear down opportunity.

 

Joaquin’s brother Julian also made headlines this week. His name had been thrown around about taking over as DNC chair. On Capital Tonight’s Wednesday show he told anchor Karina Kling, he’s not interested.

 

Watch the interview here.

 

 

 

Sanders Gets Warm Texas Welcome, Warns of Trump

Sen. Bernie Sanders stopped by the Texas delegate breakfast Wednesday morning. His visit came the day after a tense exchange between his Texas backers and Hillary Clinton supporters. During Tuesday’s breakfast, a call for unity from Sanders’ camp quickly turned ugly when one of the delegates said he condemned Clinton as the nominee. While he later apologized, that scene has been the norm during the Democratic National Convention.

Sanders has tried to calm his followers down, and continued that work during the Texas breakfast.

He walked in to loud applause and a standing ovation. He then told the crowd that the movement continues.

“The function of an election is not just to win,” Sanders said. “The function of an election is to transform this country.”

Sanders then went on to warn the delegates of Donald Trump and why they must vote for Clinton in November.

“Donald Trump is the worst candidate in the modern history of this country,” Sanders said.

He added, “The cornerstone of his campaign is not economics. The cornerstone of his campaign is bigotry.”

Sanders also touted how he has teamed up with Clinton to make the Democratic Party more progressive.

He lost Texas to Clinton by more than 30 points and acknowledged that in his remarks saying, “I know we didn’t do great in Texas.”

But he listed off some fond memories of his time campaigning there and thanked the delegates who worked so hard to get him elected and who continued the movement.

 

Photos by Karina Kling

bern crierhat dude

bern and delegate

(Youngest delegate in the nation, Clarissa Rodriguez, gives Sanders a sign with his Texas supporters signatures)