Poll: Voters largely undecided in 2014 gubernatorial election

A new Texas Lyceum poll released Wednesday shows Attorney General Greg Abbott ahead of Sen. Wendy Davis in the governor’s race. Abbott is polling at 29 percent, compared to Davis who has 21 percent. Despite Abbott’s early lead, however, most Texans still have not made up their minds. About 50 percent of those polled said they do not know who they would vote for if the election was held today.

The poll shows the two candidates in a statistical tie among registered women voters, with 51 percent of females still classifying themselves as ‘undecided’. Davis, who is expected to formally announce her candidacy tomorrow, enjoys a lead with minority groups.

“Once again, the Republicans continue to dominate the ballot for governor and all legislative offices. Moreover, GOP candidates essentially split the female vote and win males by close to 20 points,” said University of Texas Professor Daron Shaw. “On the other side of the ledger, those Democrats hoping to turn the state blue in the short term might also take solace in the fact that more than half of the electorate isn’t yet engaged with the 2014 elections.”


Abbott drops airlines merger lawsuit

Attorney General Greg Abbott is dropping the state’s challenge to a proposed merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways. Abbott had joined with the U.S. Justice Department this summer to block the merger, citing concerns over higher fares and fees. At a news conference today, Abbott announced a settlement agreement with the airlines. Abbott said the carriers have agreed to keep the Texas headquarters and continue service to the state’s rural airports.

“From the beginning, our focus has been on maintaining service to rural airports in Texas and protecting Texas jobs,” Abbott said. “Today’s agreement ensures that thousands of jobs will remain in Texas and that Texans traveling by air – especially those who fly in and out of rural cities across the state, including members of the military – will continue to benefit from daily flight service.”

Potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, who represents Fort Worth in the Texas Senate, has long said she supported the merger. Speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival this weekend, Davis said the lawsuit was the “wrong call” by the Obama administration.

The Lone Star Project says Abbott’s collapsed under pressure from Davis and other Texans. “It’s pretty clear, Greg Abbott caved after receiving withering criticism for trying to kill the merger and risk thousands of Texas jobs,” said director Matt Angle. “Abbott’s reversal is a result of political pressure from virtually every other Texas leader, especially Wendy Davis. It may be cagey, but his flip-flop displays weakness,” concluded Angle.

The Justice Department’s antitrust trial over the merger is scheduled for Nov. 25.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Poll: Texans opposed to Affordable Care Act

Most Texans are opposed to the Affordable Care Act, but are likely to sign up for health insurance through the federal marketplace. According to a Texas Lyceum poll released today, 36 percent of people say they have a very or somewhat favorable opinion of Obamacare. That is compared to 41 percent who have a somewhat or very unfavorable opinion of President’s Obama’s healthcare overhaul.

Despite those numbers, a majority of uninsured Texans are likely to purchase health insurance from the federal exchange. The poll shows 57 percent of people are likely to purchase insurance through the marketplace, compared to 36 percent who would not. Open enrollment in the marketplace opened, this morning.



Capital Tonight: Hospitals prepare for Obamacare as shutdown looms

Monday afternoon, President Obama sounded as if the partial federal government shutdown were a foregone conclusion. He spoke after Senate Democrats flatly rejected a proposal that delayed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and before House Republicans sent back a similar bill in spite of the rejection.

Meanwhile, doctors and health officials in Texas went on with preparations for the law at the center of it all. They say regardless of the Washington standoff, they want to make sure patients know how the law will effect them.


For the first time statewide, voters will have to show an approved photo ID at the polls this November to cast their ballots. We looked at how county officials are getting the word out.



Plus, the Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to talk about the political figures making headlines at the state and national level.

Cruz leading in GOP primary poll

It seems Ted Cruz’s filibuster style Senate speech is fueling any potential presidential aspirations. A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Cruz leading the pack in a hypothetical GOP primary race.

The poll puts him in the lead at 20 percent, ahead of Rand Paul at 17. Chris Christie is third with 11 percent and Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are each tied with 10. The poll shows a huge bump for Cruz. He gained eight points since the last PPP survey was conducted in July.

According to the poll, the numbers “also suggest that Cruz is now viewed more broadly as the leader of the Republican Party.”

“Ted Cruz this week established himself as the grassroots hero of the Republican Party,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “The party base has a lot more faith in him than their more official leaders like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.”

Women’s groups sue over abortion legislation

More than a dozen women’s health providers are suing to block key provisions of a controversial new abortion bill. Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed their challenge Friday in an Austin federal court. The plaintiffs claim stricter regulations enacted last legislative session are unconstitutional and “dramatically reduce women’s ability to access safe and legal abortion in Texas.”

The plaintiffs are attempting to specifically block two provisions of Texas House Bill 2. Those include a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and restrictions on the use of abortion medication. This lawsuit does not challenge the requirement that abortion clinics be upgrades to surgical center standards or the ban on abortion after 20 weeks.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said:

“We’re in court today to stop a terrible situation for women in Texas from getting even worse. Politicians are interfering with the personal medical decisions of women who already have the least access to birth control and preventive health care. If this law goes into effect, there is no doubt it will end access to safe and legal abortion for many women, leaving some to resort to desperate and dangerous measures. We won’t let that happen.”

Attorney General Greg Abbott has not yet responded to the lawsuit.



Capital Tonight: Measuring the Cruz effect

More than 21 hours after it started, Sen. Ted Cruz’s marathon speech against Obamacare came to a close without making any immediate legislative impact.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how the political aftermath is shaping up.


As Sen. Cruz was making his case, the Department of Health and Human Services was handing out some highly anticipated information. The Obama administration released the estimated costs of individual health plans late Tuesday night, and the news seems to be better than expected.


The Texas Democratic Party is still eagerly awaiting the official word from Sen. Wendy Davis on a possible run for governor. We sat down with the party’s chairman, Gilberto Hinojosa, and got his thoughts on what a Davis candidacy means for other potential statewide candidates.

Marathon Cruz speech ends after 21 hours

After speaking for 21 hours and 19 minutes, Sen. Ted Cruz yielded the floor Wednesday, allowing a vote on government funding to go ahead as planned.

Cruz began speaking just before 3 p.m. EDT Tuesday in opposition to the Affordable Care Act. With help from Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Cruz covered everything from constitutional law to “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. But apart from Obamacare, Cruz’s main complaint was with Senate Republicans who refused to follow his lead.

“Anyone who votes to cut off debate on this bill is voting to allow Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to fully fund Obamacare,” Cruz said. “That’s a vote that I think is a profound mistake.”

The speech was not technically a filibuster, since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had enough votes to begin debate on a continuing resolution passed by the House. That bill included a provision that would strip funding for Obamacare, which Reid is expected to remove before sending the bill back to the House.



Capital Tonight: Can the Cruz strategy succeed?

Sen. Ted Cruz made good on a promise to stand against the Affordable Care Act Tuesday, beginning a speech on the Senate floor that could stretch until well past midnight. It’s an effort to use a must-pass spending bill to strip funding from the president’s health care law.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on the delay tactic and looked at what the long-term repercussions could be with political analysts Harold Cook and Ted Delisi.


New data from the PEW Research Center shows fewer people are living in the U.S. illegally now than in 2007. The downward trend also holds true for five states that have 60 percent or more of the undocumented immigrant population, but not for Texas. We spoke to immigration expert Terri Givens about why Texas might be bucking the national trend.


The 83rd legislative session is behind us, and the Center for Politics and Governance at UT’s LBJ School is taking a closer look and what happened and why. We sat down with the center’s director, Sherri Greenberg, to talk about the forum

Sen. Cruz launches stall tactic over Obamacare

Sen. Ted Cruz  has vowed to speak in opposition to the Affordable Care Act until he can no longer stand.

Cruz began the stalling tactic just before 2 p.m. today, in an attempt to delay a motion by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. At issue is a continuing resolution that House lawmakers passed last week, which would continue to pay for government operations, but only if funding is stripped from Obamacare. Sen. Reid will move to put Obamacare funding back in the bill later this week, so it can make it past the president’s desk and avoid a government shutdown.

Senator Cruz says he’ll fight to keep that from happening, and denies accusations that his strategy is only for personal political gain.

“This fight is not about personalities,” Cruz said.  “Most Americans could not give a flying flip about a bunch of politicians in Washington.  Who cares?  Almost all of us are in cheap suits with bad haircuts.”

Many Republican leaders in the Senate are opposing Cruz’s strategy. They argue there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to stop the bill from passing .