Battleground Texas

Capital Tonight: Keep It Red organizers explain efforts to counter Battleground Texas

While the two candidates for governor will likely be the main draw this November, proponents for more transportation funding hope some of that attention turns into support for a ballot measure as well. Proposition 1 will ask voters whether or not to approve an increase in transportation funding by diverting a portion of the state’s oil and gas revenue away from the Rainy Day Fund.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on the campaign for Proposition 1 and heard why some are trying to put on the brakes.


Battleground Texas has been trying to turn Texas blue for a little over a year now, but Sen. John Cornyn and the Keep it Red campaign are hoping to stop them in their tracks. We sat down with Cornyn campaign manager Brendan Steinhauser to talk about their efforts.


The attacks are still flying in the Republican runoff race for lieutenant governor, and Sen. Dan Patrick is trying to shift the debate to immigration issues. Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report weighed in on that and more.

Abbott’s fundraising lead over Davis tops $19M

New fundraising totals from the frontrunner candidates for governor show Attorney General Greg Abbott with a lead of more than $19 million dollars over Sen. Wendy Davis.

Both campaigns released their totals voluntarily Monday, after filing the latest report with the Texas Ethics Commission.  The Abbott campaign reports it has raised $3.1 million in the period from Jan. 1 to Jan. 23, for a total of $29.4 million in cash on hand.

During the same period, the Davis campaign brought in $607,311 and totaled $10.2 million in cash on hand. More than $300,000 of that total comes from the Texas Victory Committee, a joint fund set up between the Davis campaign and Battleground Texas.


Abbott releases new ad ahead of Davis announcement

Attorney General Greg Abbott released a new online campaign video just hours before Senator Wendy Davis is expected to announce a run for governor.

The ad touts Abbott’s conservative record and promises safeguard Texas values, keep the government small and taxes low.

Abbott does not mention Davis by name. Instead, he takes aim at the Obama administration and Democrats’ efforts to turn Texas blue.

“We won’t allow Texas to be taken over by California-style government.
We will win this election because the people and values of Texas are on our side.
We know the power of the individual, what liberty means to the voters who go to the polls.
And I know that hard-working conservatives will beat Bracak Obama and his allies every time.”

The full ad is below:

Capital Tonight: One job left for lawmakers to tackle


Lawmakers have one task left before they can go home for the summer, but differing versions from the House and Senate on transportation funding could keep the Capitol occupied for longer than expected. Friday’s Capital Tonight takes a closer look at the main sticking point.


The Greg Abbott Campaign for governor is off to a strong start. Meanwhile, Texas Democrats are eyeing statewide office from a distance. Our Reporter Roundtable weighs in on the campaign free-for-all.


There’s been plenty of buzz following Senator Wendy Davis’ historic filibuster, but can organizers turn the momentum into something bigger?
We spoke one-on-one with the executive director of Battleground Texas, Jenn Brown.

Battleground Texas raised $1.1 million in effort to turn Texas blue

Battleground Texas announced Monday it raised $1.1 million dollars in its effort to to shift the state’s political landscape. The organization, whose mission is to make Texas competitive in state and national politics, launched in February. Its staff includes some of the architects of President Obama’s presidential campaigns.

Officials say they’ve received donations from more than 3,500 individuals. Most of the money was raised in small amounts, with an average contribution of about $45. Organizers say the numbers underscore the strong grassroots showing. “It’s really remarkable the kind of grassroots energy we’re witnessing in Texas – and it’s humbling that so many Texans have contributed their hard-earned dollars to support our plan to turn the state into a battleground by treating it like one,” said Executive Director Jenn Brown.

Battleground Texas also held its first fundraiser in Washington, DC last week.

Capital Tonight: Strategies and slip-ups as parties seek out voters

Low Voter Turnout

A new report released by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life shows Texas ranks near the bottom when it comes to voter turnout. It’s a fact both Republicans and Democrats say they’re working to change, but the process comes with its share of missteps.

View from Round Rock

State Representative Larry Gonzales joined us to talk about redistricting, roads and a new move by the Department of Transportation to save money.

Capital Commentators

Plus, our Capital Commentators weighed in on a controversial statement made by a Dallas-area Tea Party activist about the Republican Party’s standing with African American voters.

Capital Tonight: Water, guns and education

Planning for Growth

The need to fund water infrastructure has been at the forefront of the legislative session this year, especially with the growing population in Texas. A plan to draw out $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund failed to pass Monday, but Gov. Perry said lawmakers can expect to be in session until they find a resolution.

A bill passed out of committee Tuesday that would allow students to store their licensed concealed handgun in their vehicle on campus. Lawmakers said they want to give students the same rights that others have.

Standardized Testing

The house voted Tuesday to make changes to standardized tests for fourth and seventh grades. The changes include removing the standardized writing test and limiting the time needed to take the required tests.

Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment is one of the grass roots groups supporting the changes. Joanne Salazar joined Paul Brown to discuss their campaign and the changes they hope to bring about.

Capital Commentators

Harold Cook and Steve Munisteri sat down with Paul Brown to discuss the day’s political news, including the Rainy Day Fund and Battleground Texas.

The Transparency Committee is continuing its look into CPRIT, and a bill that will make changes to the embattled agency is headed to the House.

Capital Tonight: Education, religion and politics

More than a thousand ralliers with the Texas affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers gathered outside the Capitol Monday to call for the restoration of $5.4 billion of public education cuts made last year.

But funding wasn’t the only issue on their minds. A new proposal by Sen. Dan Patrick brought the long-running dispute over vouchers into the mix.

With all eyes on Rome for the selection of the next Pope, many Catholics are reflecting on the state of the church today.

Immigration reform, abortion and the Affordable Care Act are all issues on the church’s radar. We spoke to Bishop Joe Vasquez about those topics, as well as the selection process in Rome.

The effort to make Texas competitive for Democratic candidates is off and running. President Obama’s former campaign field director is in Austin to mobilize volunteers for Battleground Texas.

Capital Tonight’s LeAnn Wallace caught up with Jeremy Bird at Monday’s event Austin.

Click the image below to watch Monday’s full episode.


Capital Tonight: Distracted driving bill returns to House

A bill to ban texting while driving is back before lawmakers this session. Texting behind the wheel is illegal in 39 states, and many local ordinances already ban the practice, but it’s a statewide measure that couldn’t get past the Governor’s pen in 2011. Click the image at the bottom to hear more about why it might stand a chance this time around.

Battleground Texas

Joshua Treviño of the Texas Public Policy Foundation discussed efforts to turn Texas into a swing state. Treviño also shared the strategy he would take if he were a Democrat.


Capital Commentators

Harold Cook and Ted Delisi sat down with Paul Brown to discuss Gov. Chris Christie’s recent announcement that he would accept Medicaid funding under the Affordable Care Act. They also discussed Gov. Perry’s recent call to re-evaluate testing for Texas students.



‘Battleground Texas’ kicks off efforts to turn Texas blue

“The fight to turn Texas blue starts now.” That is the headline that greets visitors to the newly launched Battleground Texas website. Today, the independent group formally launched its efforts to make Democrats competitive in what’s been a traditionally Republican stronghold.

The organization is headed up by some of President Obama’s top 2012 campaign staffers, two of whom have been dispatched to Texas to lead efforts on the ground. Former Ohio field director Jenn Brown will serve as executive director while former DNC digital strategist Christina Gomez will be the digital director.

Gov. Rick Perry has dismissed efforts to move Texas into the swing state category. Last week, he told the Wall Street Journal that

”The University of Texas will change its colors to maroon and white before Texas goes purple, much less blue.”

The Dems’ response? Game on. Battleground Texas will use the organizing strategy used in President Obama’s 2012 campaign to register more voters and mobilize existing voters to get the polls and cast a blue ballot.

The real measure of success, however, may come in the form of funding. In an interview on Capital Tonight in January, TDP communications director Tanene Allison stressed that point. ”That’s the most exciting thing about Battleground Texas, is that they have a lot of money, and so it’s a lot of money that’s coming into Texas,” Allison said. “And part of what this shows is the nation is now paying attention to Texas.”