Abbott Posts Record-Breaking Fundraising Totals

Attorney General Greg Abbott released his own record-breaking fundraising totals Tuesday. Abbott raised $11.1 million in the last four months, bringing his total cash on hand to nearly $36 million. According to the Abbott campaign, that is more cash on hand than any other candidate in Texas history.

The Abbott campaign also pointed out that 95 percent of his contributions came from Texas.

“The strength of this campaign builds each day, and we continue to be overwhelmed by the support we’re receiving from across Texas,” Abbott Campaign Manager Wayne Hamilton said. “We are incredibly thankful to the many Texans who have contributed to our effort to ensure that Greg Abbott can continue to travel the state promoting his vision to improve education, grow jobs, preserve freedom and ultimately achieve victory in November.”

The Democratic nominee, State Sen. Wendy Davis, has raised a total of $27 million and has about $13 million in the bank. Those totals include money donated to Battleground Texas and the Texas Victory Committee.

Davis Campaign Reports $27 Million in Campaign Contributions

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has raised $27 million in her bid for governor. According to the campaign, $11.2 million of that was raised between February and June and the average donation was about $105 dollars. After expenditures, the campaign has about $13 million in the bank.

The money raised includes contributions made directly to the campaign, as well as money donated to Battleground Texas and the Texas Victory Committee, which is a joint fundraising venture for Sen. Davis and Battleground Texas.

The campaign is calling its campaign finance figures “historic.” “Not only has this campaign raised record-breaking resources from more than 140,000 grassroots supporters, we have made unprecedented investments on the ground and online that will translate the excitement for Wendy Davis into votes on Election Day,” said campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas.

The Davis campaign likely still has a massive financial disadvantage. As of the last reporting period, Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott had nearly $30 million in cash on hand. He has not announced his totals for this reporting period yet.

Capital Tonight: Lawmakers Respond to President’s Plan for Immigrant Kids

Lawmakers in Washington are pushing back against the president’s request for funding to deal with the surge of immigrant children, and suggesting ideas of their own.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at the response to the president’s plan for nearly $4 billion in emergency funds, and we outlined a bipartisan proposal from Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar.

PERRY VS. PAUL

Gov. Rick Perry is still in the national spotlight. This time, he’s trading blows with Rand Paul over foreign policy. Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report weighed in on the fight over Iraq, isolationism and even eyewear.

CANDIDATE CONVERSATION

And the Texas Railroad Commission has tightened up its policy on media access. Has the agency overseeing the state’s oil and gas industry gone too quiet? We spoke with the Libertarian Party candidate for railroad commissioner, Mark Miller, to get his take.

New Abbott Ad Hits the Silver Screen

The next time you go to the movies, you might find yourself screening a new ad in the governor’s race. Attorney General Greg Abbott is airing a 30-second spot at two dozen movie theaters across Texas. It urges patrons to text their support for the Republican’s run for governor. According to the Abbott campaign, this ad appears to be the first of its kind.

Capital Tonight: Texas Democrats Renew Call for Obama to Visit Border

With rolled up sleeves, the President leaned on the podium and asked the audience to choose hope over cynicism during his only public speech in Austin Thursday. Then, he went on to lambaste House Republicans for nearly half an hour over what he called partisan politics in Congress.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, looked at the highlights of the president’s speech, including his handling of two protesters calling for immigration reform.

FOCUS ON THE BORDER

While the president hoped to turn the conversation toward the economy, plenty of elected officials in Texas are happy to keep talking about border issues. We heard what state leaders in town for an education conference had to say. Plus, Congressman Henry Cuellar explained his recent criticism of the president in a one-on-one interview.

REGENTS RESPOND

While most of the focus was on President Obama Thursday, many here in Texas are still tracking the ongoing tension surrounding UT Austin President Bill Powers. UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa accepted Powers’ resignation only yesterday, meaning the head of UT’s Austin campus will be staying on until June 2015. But that doesn’t mean things are completely resolved. We checked in on the fight over UT leadership.

Powers to Remain UT Austin President until 2015

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers will likely keep his job until 2015, according to a statement from the head of the UT System, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa.

Last week, word leaked that Cigarroa had asked President Powers to offer his resignation before a Thursday meeting of the UT Board of Regents or be fired. Cigarroa had suggested he leave in October of this year.

Powers sent a letter in response, offering to stay on until June 2, 2015 so he can see through some of the long-term initiatives he’s started. Cigarroa accepted that offer this afternoon. Powers has led UT’s flagship university since 2006, but has often found himself at odds with the governor-appointed regents. Cigarroa has described his own relationship with Powers as “fractured” and lacking trust.

Cigarroa says the UT Board of Regents will start searching for Powers’ replacement next month. That process will include faculty, students and at least two current presidents of other UT campuses, along with at least one member of the Board of Regents. The Board of Regents was expected to consider Powers’ employment at a meeting scheduled for Thursday.

One member, UT Regent Wallace Hall, is under investigation from a legislative committee for what some have called a witch hunt to oust Powers.

You can read Cigarroa’s full response below.

Statement from Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D. regarding UT Austin President Bill Powers

Today UT Austin President Bill Powers submitted a letter of resignation, effective June 2, 2015, and I have accepted it.

President Powers, who has led great advancements for the University, has expressed a desire to remain in his position long enough to complete several important initiatives, lead the University through the upcoming legislative session, and allow for a smooth transition to new leadership. I honor his commitment to UT Austin and agree that this is the best course forward.

Next month, Board of Regents Chairman Paul Foster plans to initiate an exhaustive national search process that will utilize a search advisory committee to assist in the selection of UT Austin’s next president. The committee will include representation of faculty, deans, students and community representatives of the University, as well as at least two current presidents from UT institutions and at least one member of the Board of Regents.

There is no doubt that UT Austin is the crown jewel of public higher education in Texas. As chancellor, I have done everything in my power to provide UT Austin with the resources it needs to reach even higher vistas, to ultimately achieve its goal to be recognized as the finest public research university in America. I believe that is a goal well within our sights.

President Powers is an admired leader who, as I’ve said before, has advanced the University in many ways. He is concluding a record-breaking $3 billion capital campaign, has worked with the UT System and the Board of Regents in the past year to establish the Dell Medical School and to launch construction of a $310 million Engineering Education and Research Center – which together will be a major catalyst for UT Austin to achieve the ranking and recognition it deserves – and he has earned the reputation as a national leader in higher education.

It is, however, time for an orderly change in leadership. While ultimately productive, the past years have not been without struggle and, at times, conflict and controversy. There was no single incident that prompted my decision to ask President Powers for his resignation last week, but a long history of issues with communication, responsiveness and a willingness to collaborate.

I truly believe that it is time for a fresh start and a chance to build a strong relationship. We will all be successful if we keep the future of UT in our hearts and minds. I sincerely thank the UT Austin faculty, students, staff and the UT System’s Faculty Advisory Council for their important input over the past week.

San Antonio Mayor Castro Confirmed as Housing Secretary

In a rare show of bipartisan support for an Obama appointee, the Senate voted to confirm San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Castro was named as the president’s pick for the position back in May. He had a warm reception the following month in the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, where he was introduced Sen. John Cornyn, a fellow Texan.

Many political watchers have named Castro as a possible vice presidential candidate in 2016, should Hillary Clinton decide to run. Julián and his twin brother Joaquin are both seen as rising stars in the Democratic party, and the new job will give the San Antonio mayor some of the national political experience considered necessary for a potential running mate.

In a statement released after he was confirmed, the president applauded the Senate’s bipartisan support.

“Julián is a proven leader, a champion for safe, affordable housing and strong, sustainable neighborhoods.  I know that together with the dedicated professionals at HUD, Julián will help build on the progress we’ve made battling back from the Great Recession — rebuilding our housing market, reducing homelessness among veterans, and connecting neighborhoods with good schools and good jobs that help our citizens succeed.”

Castro will replace Shaun Donovan as housing secretary. Obama has picked Donovan to become White House budget chief.

Capital Tonight: While Politicians Debate Border Issues, Volunteers Step In

The buzz surrounding President Barack Obama’s Texas trip is getting louder, amid calls for him to see the situation at the border while he’s in the state. After much back and forth, he and Gov. Rick Perry have worked out plans to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Dallas, along with some of the volunteer groups who have been helping Border Patrol handle the influx of undocumented children.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard how the Salvation Army and other groups are helping, and why they say the influx of immigrants goes beyond politics. Plus, we spoke to Rep. Dan Flynn about the call for UT Austin President Bill Powers to resign

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to talk about Perry, the president and the border crisis, along with how the location of hazardous materials in Texas is playing into the governor’s race.

CANDIDATE CONVERSATION

Republican Ken Paxton had to fight his way to the Republican nomination for attorney general. Now, the Democratic candidate for that office is making sure the general election is even tougher. Sam Houston joined us to talk about his run to be the state’s top lawyer.