Tag Archives: Greg Abbott

The Texas Re-Draw

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 21, 2017 — The special three-judge panel considering Texas redistricting, which long ago declared the state’s 35th Congressional District as a racial gerrymander, issued a ruling earlier this week that contains re-drawing deadlines.

Early in the decade the panel declared District 35, a seat containing parts of both Austin and San Antonio connected by a thin strip traveling south on Interstate 35 between the two cities and represented by veteran Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), as violating parts of the Voting Rights Act. The ruling cited the intent of map creators to draw the seat using race as a primary basis. The evidence for such a decision consisted of emails among Republican staff members in the state legislature and Congress that proclaimed such a desire.

At the heart of the current issue is then-Attorney General Greg Abbott’s (R) decision to adopt the court’s temporary correction map as the state’s official plan. Once the legislature and governor agreed with his idea, the temporary map became permanent, which theoretically ended the process. The flaw in Abbott’s strategy, however, is the court declared at the time of issuance that the fixes were temporary and all of the problems were not corrected, meaning the plan was designed only to get through the 2014 election after which time the legislature was to create a permanent map.

Continue reading

Wendy Davis’s Potential Problem

While the major news media is covering Sen. John Cornyn’s (R) strong win in Tuesday night’s Texas primary, a different story lies beneath the surface in the Lone Star state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.

State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Ft. Worth) easily won her party’s nomination for governor attracting 78.4 percent of the vote, but she did lose 25 counties to an opponent, Reynaldo “Ray” Madrigal, who was virtually a candidate in absentia. Though losing 25 of 237 counties is an insignificant number in and of itself, the location of her under-performing entities is what could pose her an additional general election problem.

It is clear that Sen. Davis begins this race as an underdog to Attorney General Greg Abbott, who captured 91.5 percent of the Republican primary vote. Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to any statewide office since 1990. It hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter carried the state in 1976. Lloyd Bentsen is the last Democratic US senator voted into  Continue reading >

Texas Tallies: Cornyn Wins Easily, Hall in Run-off

Senate

The first-in-the-nation primary vote was held yesterday, and few surprises were noted. Sen. John Cornyn (R), facing seven Republican opponents including Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX-36), was successfully renominated capturing 58.7 percent of the vote with just over 90 percent of the vote counted at this writing. Rep. Stockman scored 18.8 percent, and Tea Party favorite Dwyane Stovall posted 10.6 percent.

With Stockman entering late and virtually disappearing on the campaign trail and Stovall raising very little money, what could have become a serious intra-party challenge to the two-term senator fizzled. Now, Cornyn looks forward to romping home in the general election.

For the Democrats, North Texas dentist David Alameel, a former congressional candidate, fell just short of winning the  Continue reading >

Wendy Davis to Announce in Texas

Later today, as expected, state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) will announce her campaign for governor. With incumbent Rick Perry (R) retiring after four terms, Texas voters will witness an open governor’s campaign for the first time since 1990, when Democrat Ann Richards defeated Republican businessman Clayton Williams.

The 2014 general election looks to match Sen. Davis and three-term Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott who, for years, has been waiting in the wings to run for the state’s top office. Davis attained notoriety over the summer by filibustering a bill that increased abortion restrictions and succeeded in delaying its passage for several weeks.

The GOP has dominated Texas politics ever since George W. Bush unseated Gov. Richards in 1994. Of the 29 statewide offices, Republicans continue to control all of them, in addition to the two US Senate positions, a majority in the congressional delegation, and both houses of the state legislature. Since the Bush gubernatorial re-election effort in 1998, the GOP has typically won the major statewide offices by margins between 12 and 16 points.

But, will the string continue in 2014? With an ever-growing populace – remember, Texas gained four seats in the last reapportionment – and a Hispanic population reaching 37.6 percent of the state’s total population, Lone Star State Democrats claim that the demographic changes are making them more competitive.

Two polls have been conducted, both showing similar patterns. The most recent, the Texas Lyceum Poll (Sept. 6-20; 800 registered Texas voters), gives Abbott only a 29-21 percent lead with a whopping 50 percent undecided/don’t know factor. In early summer, Public Policy Polling (June 28-July 1; 500 registered Texas voters), even before Gov. Perry announced his retirement, tested several candidates against one another. At that time, Abbott led Davis 48-40 percent, holding the same eight-point edge as the Lyceum poll projects, but one where 38 percent more respondents believed they knew enough about the candidates to make a decision.

The fact that the Lyceum poll has a very long sampling window, over two weeks, and  Continue reading >

Gov. Perry’s “Exciting Future Plans”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) just emailed political supporters pledging to announce his “exciting future plans” at a Monday San Antonio event. Normally, when a politician schedules an official speech that will either be a formal campaign kick-off or retirement statement, everyone knows what will be said. Not in this case. One only needs to look back to 2009, when the governor surprisingly announced for another term even though everyone “knew” that he would step down.

Gov. Perry has kept his own counsel about his “exciting future plans,” and there is diverse speculation surrounding what he will do. Many who are close to the governor, who is Texas’ longest-serving chief executive, believe that he has already decided to run for president again in 2016. Assuming this line of thought is true, what is his best move as it pertains to either keeping or relinquishing his current office?

If he is to run for president, he needs to re-establish political credibility. He does that by convincingly winning another re-election.

You’ll remember that he began the 2012 campaign in exalted fashion, entering the race with a first-place polling standing. His August 2011 presidential campaign announcement speech from South Carolina on the day of the Iowa Straw Poll was very well received and he appeared to lay legitimate claim to front-runner status. Few knew, however, that this day marked his campaign’s apex. We all remember his disastrous debate performance when the governor couldn’t recall one of the three federal agencies that he was planning to eliminate should he win the presidency. After this glaring error he tumbled down the polling charts with lightning speed and soon  Continue reading >

Texas Maps Tossed

For the better part of this year, the Texas congressional and legislative maps have been before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The state submitted their proposed district lines to this body for pre-clearance purposes, in compliance with the Voting Rights Act, instead of the Obama Department of Justice.

Clearly Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Texas Republican legal brain trust felt their approval chances were better going this route than the traditional one – the DoJ. It turns out they were wrong. The Court, yesterday, rejected all of their submissions: congressional, state Senate, and state House. Abbott said Texas will immediately appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, so the interim maps, ironically drawn by a different federal panel, will hold for the 2012 general elections.

The DC high court ruled that the state eroded the Latino community’s “clout” and took the “economic guts” from the African-American districts. The decision was broader than many believed would be the case, particularly because the San Antonio federal three-judge panel had already drawn interim maps based upon US Supreme Court direction as it pertained to legislative intent. The main areas of concern are the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, particularly as it relates to new District 33 (open seat), which stretches between the two major cities, the Austin-San Antonio corridor, and District 23 (Rep. Quico Canseco) that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso. But, if the African-American districts are also affected, then Houston could come into play, as well.

This ruling suggests major changes will come next year, as Texas redistricting will apparently, once again, begin anew.

A Texas-Sized Supreme Court Ruling

The US Supreme Court stayed implementation of the San Antonio federal panel’s congressional and state legislative maps on Friday, thus making it a virtual certainty that the Texas primary, currently scheduled for Super Tuesday on March 6, will be moved. The Lone Star State vote was, until Friday, the first scheduled congressional primary in the nation.

The court ordered oral arguments for map changes to be presented on Jan. 9, far beyond the Dec. 15 candidate filing deadline. With a final ruling coming in late January at the earliest, the proscribed filing period would dictate that the March 6th nominating election for the House of Representatives and the state legislature, at a minimum, will not proceed as scheduled. Therefore, the Supreme Court’s action raises as many tangential political questions as it answered.

Our PRIsm Redistricting Report tomorrow will cover the intricacies of the decision and what it means for the 2012 election, but the ramifications of what happens to the Texas primary goes far beyond changing the judicial panel’s political boundaries.

Many states have early stand-alone primaries for President and return later in the year to nominate candidates for Congress and state and local office. Texas, however, scheduled all of their races for Super Tuesday, with a run-off on May 22. The latter date now becomes the leading scheduling option for the new primary. State Attorney General Greg Abbott argued for such in his brief to the high court. Should the May date be chosen, it is likely that any required run-off would occur sometime in June.

So, what happens next and who decides? Now that the Supreme Court has, at least temporarily, removed redistricting jurisdiction from the San Antonio three-judge panel, we know that they will have no role in setting the primary. The Supreme Court or the legislature and governor will have the ultimate scheduling authority.

The next question is: will the primary be bifurcated? Theoretically, delegate selection for president could still move forward on March 6; ditto for the US Senate and local campaigns. A second primary could be then scheduled at a later time for the US House of Representatives and the state legislature. Since no money has been budgeted for an additional primary, this option would require action from the state legislature and governor or, at least, from the Legislative Budget Board (consisting of the governor, lieutenant governor, and Speaker of the House), the body that makes financial decisions while the legislature is not in session.

Meanwhile, presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry finds himself in an interesting position. He has the power to call the legislature into special session to either move the primary or appropriate the necessary funds to conduct another election.

Perry himself could benefit greatly from moving the entire Texas primary to May, assuming he is still alive in the presidential contest after the early states vote. According to Republican National Committee rules, states may invoke a winner-take-all option if the nominating event is held post-Super Tuesday, so altering the date of the primary, which would allow the nominating system to change, obviously helps the governor since Texas has the second-largest contingent of delegates (155) to the Republican National Convention.

The primary scheduling decision greatly affects another person, too: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is the leading candidate for the Republican US Senate nomination. The earlier primary date favors him because polls show he has a chance to win the nomination outright on March 6. Delaying the vote for more than two months would give his top opponents, Dallas ex-Mayor Tom Leppert and Texas former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, more time to mount stronger challenges to Dewhurst and potentially force him into a run-off election.

As you can see, the Supreme Court is affecting much more than Texas redistricting with its decision to stay map implementation. In the end, when will the Texas congressional primary be held? Right now, we can be assured it will be on a date other than March 6. Beyond that, stay tuned.