Decision 2012

The Capital Tonight political crew arrives in Tampa

Hi everyone! Five of us have traveled to Tampa, ahead of the Republican National Convention. We’ll be chronicling our journey here on the blog this week; and next, for the Democratic National Convention.

Here’s a look at our first day:

We left Austin at 7:00 this morning. After a quick layover in Houston, we landed in Tampa just before noon. We missed the major influx of delegates and media (with the exception of a couple members of Texas press on our flight), as Tampa International was relatively quiet. Save for a few signs welcoming the delegates and convention guests, there was little sign that thousands of people would soon be flooding the baggage claim. We picked up our luggage and rental cars and headed toward downtown.

Our crew, which consists of myself, our political anchor, Paul Brown, reporter, Alana Rocha, photographer, Robbie Vaughn, and our News Director, Michael Pearson, stopped in Ybor City for some Cuban sandwiches and deviled crabs, before parting ways for our separate hotels.

Now there’s a trek that’s likely to plague us all week. Half of us are staying in Clearwater, about 25 miles west of the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The other half is staying with the Texas Delegation, which is about 25 miles North east of the arena. In all, our two crews are about an hour’s drive apart, assuming traffic cooperates; which we do not expect.

During our drive downtown, we passed by the Tampa Bay Times Forum. That’s where most of the official proceedings, major speeches and roll call will take place. During the convention, all of the streets surrounding the Forum will be off limits to traffic. Today, however, we were able to drive right past. There’s a large RNC 2012 banner, some American flags hanging from the front of the building, and a few tents set up outside. Some local federal buildings have had fences erected around them and there are some boarded up windows, in anticipation of protesters. The real security won’t be in place until later, this weekend. Those extra law enforcement officers are already starting to roll in to town. We saw a few Miami-Dade police cars driving past our hotel, this afternoon.

On everyone’s mind, of course, is Tropical Storm Isaac. Florida is no stranger to storms, and it’s pretty much all the locals are talking about. Florida Governor Rick Scott held a news conference today, assuring everyone that the convention will go on as planned. We do know, however, that the RNC isn’t taking any chances and will get the official business of nominating Mitt Romney on Monday; the first night of the convention.

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.

Craddick wins runoff for Texas Railroad Commission

Photo courtesy

Christi Craddick defeated state Rep. Warren Chisum for the Republican nomination for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, which has nothing to do with trains but regulates oil and gas exploration statewide.

Craddick will face Democrat Dale Henry in November’s general election for the Place 1 seat on the three-member commission.

Born in Midland, Craddick is an Austin oil and gas attorney whose father is former Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick. Chisum has been a Texas lawmaker for more than 25 years.

All the candidates for the board campaigned against overregulation by the Environmental Protection Agency and said the Railroad Commission’s name should be changed to reflect its true duties.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Smitherman gets GOP nod for Railroad Commission

Photo courtesy Texas Railroad Commission.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman has defeated Gregory Parker for the Republican nomination to retain his seat on the board that has nothing to do with trains but regulates oil and gas exploration statewide.

Smitherman faces no Democratic opposition in the November general election for the Place 2 seat on the three-member commission.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Smitherman to the chairman position last year, replacing Michael Williams. Smitherman is running to complete Williams’ original term, which expires in 2014.
Smitherman was an attorney for the Public Utility Commission and later became its chairman. He helped create Texas’ robust wind power infrastructure.

All the candidates for the board campaigned against over regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency and said the Railroad Commission’s name should be changed to reflect its true duties.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sen. Hutchison vows to help Cruz prepare to fill her seat

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says she will help Ted Cruz get elected to fill her seat in Washington. She announced her retirement almost two years ago.

“I’d like to congratulate both Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst on a hard fought primary.

“In the coming months, I will do everything I can to support the election of Ted Cruz to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate and be available to him for any questions that will prepare him for the issues he will face.

“It is more important than ever that we have leaders who are committed to get our country back on track – focused on cutting spending and creating jobs to grow our economy.”

Perry: Dewhurst and I will stand together

Gov. Perry isn’t turning his back on Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst following his runoff loss to Ted Cruz. In a statement Perry said he is proud to call Dewhurst his friend.

"I congratulate Ted Cruz on a hard-fought victory and a well-executed campaign. Ted is a force to be reckoned with: an excellent candidate and a great conservative communicator. I call on all conservative Texans to rally behind Ted Cruz in November so we can remake the U.S. Senate in the image of Texas for the good of all Americans.

“Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst fought a valiant fight. I’m proud to call David my friend. He and I will stand shoulder to shoulder once again in the spring, fighting for Texas — the most conservative state in America.

"Texas is as rock-hard conservative as ever. Texans in true Texas fashion decided what is right for Texas. It is my expectation and prayer that their choice will be right for America."

Dewhurst wasn’t the governor’s only endorsement, at least two of the candidates Perry backed were successful. Roger Williams beat Wes Riddle for the Republican nomination in Congressional district 25 and Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman held on to his party’s nomination.

Mayor Julián Castro to keynote Democratic National Convention

In the same fashion which catapulted President Obama to national prominence in 2004, Mayor Julián Castro will deliver this year’s keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in September. Castro will be the first Latino keynote speaker at the DNC.

"Two conventions ago, the keynote speaker was a guy named Barack Obama. I remember watching his speech in 2004 and being inspired," Castro said in his announcement video.

At 37 years old, Castro is the youngest mayor of a Top 50 American city. His twin brother, Joaquin, is a state rep and is running for Congress in San Antonio. He keynoted the Texas Democratic convention in June and was a guest in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box at the State of the Union earlier this year.

"Julián Castro has worked tirelessly to move San Antonio forward by building its economy from the middle out, not the top down, by putting the city on a path to being a leader in the new energy economy and making innovative investments in education to prepare San Antonio’s students for the jobs of the future,” Democratic Convention Chair, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said on the DNC website. “That’s the same vision forward for the middle class the President has.”

The Democratic National Convention starts Sept. 4 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

You can watch Castro’s announcement video below.

Grady Yarbrough out with new ad

Grady Yarbrough, a democratic candidate for US Senate, has produced a new TV and radio commercial. In a post on his Facebook page, Yarbrough said the ad could be seen on television stations across the state from July 24 – 30, at 5p and 6p.

Yarbrough became the surprise runoff candidate in May, after he came in second to the more well-known Paul Sadler.

It is not clear how Yarbrough is paying for his television and radio ads; he hasn’t reported recent contributions to the Federal Election Commission. The Dallas Morning News reports that Grady would self-finance ads for the runoff campaign. Capital Tonight did call Yarbrough for comment tonight, but he couldn’t be reached.

Here is the ad:

Cruz-Santorum campaign event set for Saturday morning

A big name in Tea Party politics will roll into Southlake, Texas Saturday morning. We now know where and when Rick Santorum will join U.S. Senate Republican runoff candidate Ted Cruz for a rally. The event will take place Saturday morning at 11:30 at the Ranch of the Lonesome Dove.

The event comes less than 24 hours after a rally in The Woodlands with Sarah Palin, Sen. Jim DeMint and many Tea Party leaders from across the state. Santorum endorsed Cruz May 24 on Glenn Beck’s radio show.

New PAC aims to mobilize Hispanic democrats

Two Mexican-American State Representatives are hoping to mobilize hispanic voters, in Texas. According to the State Ethics commission, the "One Texas PAC" was created on July 2. Democratic Representatives Trey Martinez Fisher and Ana Hernandez Luna unveiled it, today.

The PAC will focus on mobilizing Hispanic voters in Texas House districts where they can impact election outcomes. While the Hispanic population in Texas is growing, a disproportionately low number are voting. The ultimate goal, organizers say, is to add more Hispanic Democrats to the Texas legislature.

Martinez Fisher, who is the chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, told the Associated Press "I want to talk to people because I believe if they understand what we stand for, they will realize there are people fighting for them."

Martinez Fisher has also pledged to match the first $50,000 dollars in contributions.