Capital Tonight: Water, roads and courting the Latino vote

Lawmakers hit the lake Wednesday to talk about water issues. Gov. Rick Perry is urging Texans to vote “yes” on Proposition 6, which would allocate funding for the state’s water plan. It’s an issue the 83rd Legislature made sure to address. Now, they need to get voters on their side to see the plan through.

NEW STRATEGY

The race is on to attract Latino voters, and Republicans think they have the right strategy. In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at a new effort to bring the state’s growing Hispanic population to the right.

SHUTDOWN UPDATE

And it’s Day Nine of the government shutdown, with little hope in sight. We took a closer look at how veterans and their families are being affected, and what Washington plans to do about it.

Poll: Most Texans think marijuana should be legal

Most Texans support legalizing marijuana for adults, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday. The poll shows 58 percent of registered voters are in favor of legalizing the drug, taxing it and regulating it like alcohol. That is compared to 38 percent who said they are opposed.

The poll also shows a majority of Texans support relaxing criminal penalties for people who are caught with less than one ounce in their possession. Of those polled, 61 percent said they would be in favor of replacing criminal penalties with civil offenses punishable by a $100 fine. Thirty percent said they were opposed.

“Marijuana prohibition has been just as big a failure as alcohol prohibition,” said Marijuana Policy Project executive director Rob Kampia. “Most Texans agree that marijuana sales should be conducted by legitimate businesses instead of drug cartels in the underground market.”

Kampia, who was a guest on Capital Tonight earlier this year, has supported measures in the Texas legislature to eliminate jail time for minor offenses. That legislation failed to gain any traction last session.

Capital Tonight: One-on-one with Sen. Wendy Davis

The Wendy Davis campaign is off and running. Monday, the Fort Worth Democrat was in San Antonio to talk about why she wants to be the next governor of Texas.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we sat down with Sen. Davis for an extended interview. She talked about education funding, party labels, gun rights and her plan to lead the state.

ON THE AGENDA

Since Sen. Davis’s announcement, only one other Democrat has declared a run for statewide office. The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to talk about how the rest of the ticket could shape up for those hoping to turn the state blue.

HOUSE SEAT SCRAMBLE

As the governor’s race heats up, so does another competition. Candidates running in the House District 50 race have been busy reaching out to registered voters. We looked at their efforts to get people to the polls in a state where turnout is traditionally low.

Collier formally announces comptroller run

Mike Collier formally announced today he will run for state comptroller as a Democrat. Collier, who was the first Democrat to hint at a run for statewide office, is a longtime accountant and former Chief Financial Officer of an oil company.

Collier launched his campaign with a 60-second video, in which he comes out swinging against potential Republican opponents and current Comptroller Susan Combs.

Assuming no other democrats jump in the race, Collier will face one of three Republicans. Sen. Glenn Hegar, Sen. Harvey Hilderbran and former Rep. Raul Torres are all vying for the GOP nomination.

Programming note: Mike Collier will be a guest on Tuesday’s Capital Tonight.

Davis touts family, education in first campaign ad

Sen. Wendy Davis released her first online campaign ad, Monday. The nearly 5 minute spot highlights Davis’ life story, from a single mother to a successful business woman and state senator.

“Our campaign is proud to highlight Sen. Davis’ record putting Texas families first,” said communications director Bo Delp. “Since we launched our campaign, we have been overwhelmed by the support for a new voice for all Texans in Austin. As the momentum grows, we continue to build a strong coalition of voters who are ready to elect Wendy Davis the next governor to make sure Texas is as great as it can be.”

You can watch the ad, below:

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: Texans eye governor’s race as DC standoff continues

On the night before Sen. Wendy Davis’s big announcement, new poll numbers are shifting expectations. In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we look at where the Fort Worth Democrat is coming from and where she may be headed.

SHUTDOWN STALEMATE

Leaders from the House and Senate met with President Barack Obama for more than an hour Wednesday to talk about a deal to end the partial government shutdown. But as expected, the stalemate over defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act continued.

CANDIDATE CONVERSATIONS

Sen. Donna Campbell is a freshman Republican Senator who drew a short straw at the beginning of the recent legislative session, meaning her term is up after only two years. While she’s anxious to return to Austin next session, she’s already drawing some primary opponents. We talked one-on-one with Sen. Campbell about the last session and the upcoming race.

Glass makes another bid for governor

The day before Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis’ announcement about a possible run for governor, someone else jumped into the race.

Libertarian candidate Kathie Glass announced she’s running in 2014 during an Austin news conference Wednesday morning at the Driskill Hotel.

Glass ran for governor in 2010, receiving a little more than 2 percent of the vote, to Governor Rick Perry’s 55 percent. Democrat Bill White pulled in 42 percent in that race.

She used the current federal government shutdown as an example of why she’s running again.

“This shutdown is just a glimpse of what might happen when there is a total collapse from Washington, because we know — the voters of Texas know — that Washington is broken,” Glass said. “The two-party system is corrupt and broken. They’ll never fix themselves and they can’t be reformed from within.”

Attorney General Greg Abbott and former Texas Worforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken are among the Republican candidates who have already annouced a run for governor.

As was the case in 2010, Glass is campaigning on a platform of limited government.

She said to expect a lot of active, serious Libertarian campaigns for a variety of offices this election cycle.

 

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.