Rumors of Powers’ job in peril prompt university-wide support

University of Texas President Bill Powers has ignited a firestorm of support from UT faculty and state leaders after rumors erupted Wednesday evening that his job was in jeopardy.

Texas Monthly Senior Executive Editor Paul Burka wrote a blog post, citing unnamed sources, that Powers "may be in danger of losing his job." Burka claims it stems from Powers publicly opposing Gov. Rick Perry’s call for a tuition freeze.

Last legislative session, Perry led the charge to cut $900 million from higher education. The move forced Powers to make up the difference, so he asked for a tuition hike.

Powers in peril?

A Facebook group called "I Stand with Bill Powers" has already gained about 10,000 members since it was created just before midnight Wednesday.

The UT System Board of Regents, whom Perry appoints, ultimately approved a two-year tuition freeze over Powers’ protest on May 3.

"I am disappointed that our very thoughtful proposal, every penny of which would have gone to student success, which itself would help keep the cost of higher education down, was not an adopted," Powers said after the Regents’ decision.

If blog rumors prove true, Perry may have his first political battle on his hands since leaving the presidential campaign trail.

Glenn Smith, a democratic strategist with Progress Texas, says Perry has a monopoly of higher education in the state.

"Rick Perry has put a noose around the neck of Texas colleges and universities and Texas families trying to get their children into to them," he said. "Tuition is up 70 percent on his watch, but that’s because he slashed funding on universities."

Monday, the UT Faculty Council Chair will consider a resolution its chairman drafted in reaction to the rumors that supports President Powers and his administrative team.

"Based on the actions of this Board of Regents over the last year or so, it seems to me much in keeping with who they are and what they are and what they have done," Chair Alan Friedman said. "It [The University of Texas] can weather only so many frontal assaults before it can begin to suffer. It’s very easy to destroy excellence. It’s very hard to rebuild it."

Read UT Faculty Chair Alan Friedman’s letter calling for support for Powers, sent to UT staff Thursday:

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, President Powers proposed a modest tuition increase for the next two years that fell within the guidelines that the Regents had established early on.

Yet he was pressured to withdraw the proposal, and when, unlike the President at Texas A&M, he refused because he thought it was crucial to the life of the institution to maintain educational quality to the extent he could, the proposal was nonetheless rejected.

Now rumors abound that his job is in jeopardy because he didn’t do as he was told.

At its regular meeting this coming Monday at 2:15pm in Main 212, the Faculty Council will consider a resolution I have drafted in support of the President and his administrative team. I think that a strong show of support from the campus community would be invaluable at this time, so I hope that every faculty member, student, and staff person who can make the meeting will be there. Please come if you possibly can and urge your colleagues to do so as well.


Recognizing the extraordinary efforts exerted by UT Austin President Bill Powers and his administrative team in support of the recent proposal for a modest, well-documented, and crucial tuition increase, the Faculty Council strongly commends them for seeking to protect and enhance the quality of our students’ education and the value of their degrees, as well as the research and public service achievements of the faculty.

The fact that the Regents ultimately rejected the proposal diminishes neither the campus’s need for such financial support nor the efforts made to attain it.


Alan W. Friedman

Chair, Faculty Council 2011-12

Addison’s new ad: “Dave and Ted’s Epic Misadventures.”

Republican Senate candidate Glenn Addison has released a new online ad, entitled "Dave and Ted’s Epic Misadventures." Addison is who is trailing both Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz. His new spot calls Cruz a ‘political insider’ and criticizes Dewhurst as a ‘career politician’

The ad is online online right now. Addison is asking supporters for donations, so he can buy television time.

Palin endorses Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate

Ted Cruz is having a good week. First, he got a million dollar ad campaign paid for by the Club for Growth. Now, Sarah Palin is throwing her support behind Cruz’s Senate campaign.

According to a campaign press release, Palin’s endorsement came as a response to a letter Cruz sent her.

"We’re proud to join conservatives in Texas and throughout the nation in supporting your campaign to become the next Senator from the Lone Star State," Palin wrote. "Your conservative principles, passionate defense of our Constitution and our free market system come at a time when these cornerstones of our freedom and prosperity are under attack. Our shared goal isn’t just to change the majority in control of the Senate, but to assure principled conservatives like you are there to fight for us."

Cruz called Palin "an inspiration to conservatives" and says he’s honored to have her support.

Cruz gets million dollar backing from Washington-based Tea Party group

The same group that helped defeat longtime U.S. Senator Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican Primary, is now backing Ted Cruz in an effort to defeat frontrunner David Dewhurst, in the form of lots of cash. The Washington-based Tea Party Club for Growth rolled out a one millon dollar ad campaign against "moderate tax-raising David Dewhurst."

"Texans looking for a principled defender of economic freedom should vote for Ted Cruz in the Republican Primary for U.S. Senate,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a press release. “Texas newspapers describe David Dewhurst as a moderate at heart because he has grown the size of government, supported new taxes, and has done his best to stop conservative policies in Austin. Texas Republicans should vote against David Dewhurst and his support for higher taxes on May 29th.”

The Dewhurst campaign released a new ad today as well, starring Mike Huckabee.

"We need different people in Washington with different values – conservative people like David Dewhurst," Huckabee says in the ad. "David’s conservative leadership helped Texas pass more pro-life legislation than any state in America. And David stood with taxpayers, cut spending and cut taxes. There’s only one proven conservative in this race for Senate, so stand with him."

You can watch both ads below.

Club for Growth

Team Dewhurst

Dewhurst campaign calls Obama same-sex marriage comment ‘desperate’

It’s easy to assume Republicans don’t agree with Pres. Obama’s change of heart on same-sex marriage. But, 3 hours after ABC News broke in with part of the president’s interview, few Texas Republicans have responded.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s U.S. Senate campaign released this statement around 4 p.m:

“President Barack Obama continued his assault on traditional values today when he flip-flopped on his position and announced his support for same-sex marriage. This cynical, desperate move demonstrates that President Obama will do anything to cater to his extreme liberal base."

"In Texas, David Dewhurst helped lead the effort here in Texas to enshrine in the Texas constitution that marriage is between a man and a woman, and he is running for the U.S. Senate to stop the Obama Administration’s efforts to eradicate the traditional values that have made our country great.”

Former Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum sent out a statement, he said it was "no surprise," accusing President Obama of "consistently fighting against protecting the institution of marriage from radical social engineering at both the state and federal level."

We will post a statement from the governor’s office if they send one out.

AG office fires back at feds over Voter ID

The Texas Voter ID law likely won’t go into effect before the November general election. Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office fired back at the US Justice Department after the federal government said the state failed to act with "a sense of urgency" or "diligence" required to decide on the law before November.

Texas has repeatedly ignored or violated directives and orders of this Court that were designed to expedite discovery, and Texas has failed to produce in a timely manner key documents that Defendants need to prepare their defense. Most troubling is Texas’ conduct with respect to producing its key state databases, which are central to Defendants’ claim that S.B. 14 has a disparate and retrogressive impact on racial and/or language minority groups.

Abbott spokesman Jerry Strickland said DOJ is playing politics.

"In an ongoing effort to prevent Texas from enforcing its Voter ID law during the November election, the Department of Justice and partisans who oppose the Voter ID law, have issued endless discovery requests seeking millions of records that have nothing to do with this case. The State has already produced roughly 25,000 pages of information and millions of records from State databases," Strickland said in a statement. "The DOJ and their partisan allies need to end their fishing expedition and stop their attempts to deny Texas the same right to require the very same type of photo identification from voters that has already been upheld by the Supreme Court. The needless delays imposed by the opponents of Texas’ Voter ID law continue to prove that Justice Kennedy was correct when he noted that the Section 5′s preclearance requirements put Texas at a disadvantage compared to other states."

In the court documents released on Monday the court says it is no longer granting an "expedited review," and now Texas might have to pay a fine.

Dewhurst leads by wide margin in new poll

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst might wrap up the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in a little over 2 weeks, that is if you believe a new poll which gives Dewhurst 51 percent of the vote. The Conservative Republicans of Texas polled 400 likely Republican primary voters from April 27-30. Ted Cruz is at 16 percent, Tom Leppert 7 percent, Craig James at 2 percent, and 24 percent said they weren’t sure or refused do take part in the poll.

The Quorum Report points out that the CRT hired Dresner, Wickers, Barber, Sanders to conduct the poll l– a group which lists Dewhurst as a client.

The poll also looked at the 2014 race for lieutenant governor. Susan Combs receives 28 percent of the vote, Dan Patrick 15 percent, Todd Staples 7, and Jerry Patterson 5. However, the majority of people, 39 percent, say they aren’t sure who they are voting for.

The margin of error for the poll is +/- 4.5 percent.

Appeals judge puts Planned Parenthood back in the money

Federal Appeals Judge Jerry Smith says there is sufficient evidence the state law excluding Planned Parenthood from receiving money as part of the Texas Women’s Health Program is unconstitutional. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission says it will "comply with the court order as the case proceeds."

"We also will continue to work toward a state program that provides women with access to vital family planning services and complies with the law that bans abortion providers from getting those funds," HHSC said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood said their doors will remain open tomorrow.

"This case isn’t about Planned Parenthood — it’s about the women who rely on us
for cancer screenings, birth control, and annual exams, Sarah Wheat, Interim Co-CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region said in a statement. "We won’t let politics interfere with the health care that nearly three million people a year rely on Planned Parenthood for in Texas and around the country."

A trial date will be set during a hearing in district court on May 18.

The same judge sided with the state earlier this week with a stay to the injunction decided on Monday. Judge Smith had said he granted a stay so he would have more time to review the law.

State officials say if Texas is forced to include Planned Parenthood in the WHP they could shut down the program all together.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Paul Ryan to keynote Texas GOP Convention

A darling of Republicans across the country will deliver the keynote address at the Texas GOP Convention in Fort Worth June 9. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, is often placed by pundits at the top of the vice presidential short list for Mitt Romney.

In a press release from the Texas GOP, Steve Munisteri says, "I am grateful to Congressman Ryan for agreeing to speak at our State Convention on June 9th. His leadership on shrinking the size of government and cutting federal spending aligns well with the platform of the Republican Party of Texas. I look forward to welcoming him to Fort Worth and our State Convention!"

The Republican state convention will be June 7-9 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. The Democrats will hold their convention the same weekend in Houston.

Tonight on Capital Tonight: Primary day nears

The Texas primary is right around the corner, and the candidates aren’t pulling any punches. Here’s a look at the stories we’re covering on tonight’s show.

U.S. Senate Debate

David Dewhurst, Ted Cruz, Tom Leppert and Craig James will debate again tonight in Houston, this time with Democratic candidates Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard on stage as well. The Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Public Media and the University of Houston are hosting the forum. Our reporter, Alana Rocha, will be live from outside the debate hall.

Big Money Politics

Campaigning across Texas is expensive, and this year there is more money than ever being pumped into the race. The reason: SuperPACs. Last week we looked at some of the negative ads flooding the airwaves.
Tonight, we’re digging deeper. We’ll talk to Rob Johnson, executive director of the Texas Conservatives Fund, a pro-Dewhurst SuperPAC.

Auma Obama

Tonight we will also be joined by someone who knows Pres. Obama like no one else: his half-sister. Auma Obama, who grew up in Kenya, met the president in her 20s. She’ll join us to talk about her brother, the First Lady and her recently written memoir.

Capital Commentators

As always, Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report, Democratic Strategist Harold Cook and Republican Strategist Ted Delisi will be here to give us their take on the week in state and national politics.