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Capital Tonight: Convention-al Proceedings and the Fight for Texas

 

We visited our reporters on-scene in Dallas to see how the Texas State Democratic Convention is going, and checked in on some big names. Democrat Joaquin Castro, U.S. Rep. for San Antonio, District 20 joined us Friday. He answered our questions regarding the viability of their party, the immigration situation in South Texas, and his brother’s expected promotion to Washington. Also, we asked his opinion on some unconventional strategies which Republicans hope will dampen the festivities in Dallas this weekend.

POLITICAL PREDICTIONS

Democrats weren’t the only ones busy this weekend. Attorney General Greg Abbott, Republican candidate for Texas Governor, visited South Texas to view the detention centers housing Central American minors. A sharp increase in numbers of youths crossing the border has spurred action from several Texas political players. We spoke with Abbott to hear his solution to what some are calling a “humanitarian crisis.” Campaigns for November elections hit the ground running after each party’s state convention. In the last straight away, Republican strategist Rob Johnson and Democratic strategist Harold Cook helped us review the race and predict who’s going to pull ahead. The next few months are crucial for all the campaigns, and here at Capital Tonight, we tried to determine their next steps.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

Erica Grieder with Texas Monthly and Reeve Hamilton with the Texas Tribune joined us to discuss education and security. University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall has come under investigation for suspicious activity, and as the scandal approaches resolution, we talked about possible outcomes. Then, a story far from resolution, the border security concern prompted blame, but who’s really at fault? We dug into the issue in the Reporter Roundtable.

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.

 

‘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.”