If you have been paying attention, you know that Governor Perry has been indicted on two felony charges "abuse of official capacity," a first degree felony, and "coercion of a public servant," a third degree felony. More specifically, he publicly threatened to veto funds of the Travis County District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit, or PIU, if DA Rosemary Lehmberg did not resign her position, and apparently privately offered to restore funding and give her another job if she did resign, which would have allowed Perry to appoint her successor and shut down the PIU's ongoing investigations of his cronies.
We didn't expect Governor Perry to take responsibility for his actions, but his defense of smearing Rosemary Lehmberg and complaining the indictment was political does not answer the charges of his indictment.
Perry's PR offensive of character assassination and deflection may work in the court of public opinion, but it won't work in a court of law.
Below the jump are some basic talking points that will help you not only understand where the spin is coming from and why the indictment is a strong statement about the Governor's wrongdoing.
Citing what he calls a "counterproductive and unnecessarily cumbersome and costly regulatory mess," Texas Governor Rick Perry on Friday sent a three-page letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder declaring that Texas would not comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
The Prison Rape Elimination Act was signed by President George W. Bush in 2003 with unanimous support from both parties in Congress. The purpose of the act was to "provide for the analysts of the incidence and effects of prison rape in Federal, State, and local institutions and to provide information, resources, recommendations and funding to protect individuals from prison rape."
Scott over at Grits for Breakfast has acquired Perry's letter to Holder and excerpted it copiously.
The theory was, once Sen. Wendy Davis (D) announced she was running for governor, other Democrats would quickly announce to join her on the statewide ticket. While Sen. Van de Putte (D) continues to weigh her options, two others have made their bids official. One is a new face and the other is a running gag.
Mike Collier (D)posted directly on Burnt Orange Report last week to announce his candidacy for Texas Comptroller. Mr. Collier is a former CFO who has pledged to be a watchdog for our finances and will work to end the political circus that has overshadowed the Comptroller's office over the last few years. The best person to tell Mike Collier's story is Mike; I encourage everyone to watch his introductory video. Four Republicans are currently running for Comptroller: Sen. Glenn Hegar, Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, Fmr. Rep. Raul Torres, and Debra Medina. Incumbent Susan Combs (R) is retiring.
Comedian Kinky Friedmanwill run for Agriculture Commissioner as a Democrat, again. He ran in 2010 for the same position as a Democrat, losing in the primary. No other candidate has declared to date.
One Senator confirmed they would run for re-election and close to a dozen new candidates made themselves known in the last week. Click after the jump to find out who!
Sen. Wendy Davis made her first major public address since announcing she would run for governor. She was the featured speaker at the Texas Stars Banquet in Galveston Friday night, the day before the quarterly meeting of the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC). The SDEC is comprised of representative leaders from throughout the state who help steer the party platform and advocate on the activities of the party in communities throughout Texas. Before her speech, other speakers addressed the crowd including Rep. Senfronia Thompson, Sen. Sylvia Garcia, and former Governor Mark White. Two items were live auctioned to the crowd with the funds going to the Texas Democratic Party; a Stand with Texas Women t-shirt signed by Sen. Davis and Cecile Richards and a pair of pink Mizuno running shoes signed by Sen. Davis. Both were sold for over $1,000.
Galveston District Judge Susan Criss introduced Sen. Davis; she thanked the Senator for bringing not just the state's but the nation's attention to Texas, where the blatant disregard for the rules by the governing majority was exposed. In her speech, after thanking the hosts, Sen. Davis asked if she could remove her shoes she had been wearing all day and surprised the crowd by placing her own iconic pink Mizuno running shoes on top of the podium. She told her personal story of overcoming life's challenges and how education made the difference in her life. She spoke of how she had the opportunity to seek a higher education with state financial assistance but how many of those opportunities no longer exist. She continued, saying there are too many people who do not have a voice in our state government, but she hoped she could be that voice.
Her big line of the night came when she addressed the attack that she wants to turn Texas into California. She said:
"I don't want to be California. I want to beat the hell out of California!"
Sen. Davis knows Texas doesn't play second to any other state and she is not afraid to take on any challenge or challenger and respond with action. She is ready to take her Texas fight to the governor's mansion in January 2015!
Republicans' grip on statewide leadership offices has prevented Texas from joining the rest of the country -- and the rest of the 21st century -- in the fight for LGBT equality. Polls have shown fast-evolving, continues support for LGBT rights all across the country, including here in Texas. Yet, Republicans have been afraid to open dialogue on LGBT equality out of fear from angering their conservative base.
Texans have grown to realize LGBT rights matter to them; it affects people we all love and care about, and support for equality has grown tremendously over the last years to reflect this change of heart. LGBT Texans lack essentially all forms of rights and discrimination protections that the rest of Texans have, one of the worst states in the country for those who are LGBT.
Chuck Smith, executive director of statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality Texas, supports Wendy Davis:
"Wendy Davis has been an ally and a supporter of pro-equality legislation throughout her career in the Texas Senate," Smith said. "The reality is that LGBT-specific pro-equality legislation will never become law in Texas until we have a governor who will sign it into law."
Watch Wendy Davis and other prominent Texas Legislatures, including Leticia Van de Putte, potential Democratic candidate for Lt. Gov., tell LGBT youth facing discrimination to hang in there. The fight is not over.
I feel the need to say the following as a Texan and an American. As the government shutdown continues, it is clear who is to blame. It is the GOP. Yet Wendy Davis, when asked about the shutdown, would not take sides.
First, the government shutdown affects Texas, as it does every state. It is important to address these issues, and I expect that from our Democratic statewide candidates. That is especially true of our candidate running for governor, who will be leading our state and dealing with the federal government.
Second, regarding Senator Davis' assertion that the parties have done a better job of working together in Texas, here have been the results. And they are not pretty.
Our state has refused to accept the Medicaid Expansion, or even discuss it with the federal government. Our state has refused to set up an exchange, leaving that to the federal government. Our state is proposing excessive regulations for the navigators involved. And this is all happening in Texas, the state with the highest uninsured rate in the country.
In addition, as we all know, Texas just passed an extremely restrictive bill that will close the vast majority of abortion clinics in Texas. This was a special session item that was most clearly NOT an example of working together.
With respect to transportation, our legislature added $1 billion on transportation when TxDOT needs $ 4 billion. We are not adequately funding our infrastructure. There is a complete refusal to raise revenue. And conservatives and tea partiers are driving this refusal, as they have for many years.
On education, we have seen a net loss of funding over the past 2 legislative cycles.
Third, Senator Davis herself has stood up against GOP excesses, having performed a filibuster in each of the last 2 legislative sessions (2011 and 2013) with respect to education funding and the abortion bill, respectively. I applaud Senator Davis on both filibusters - they were needed to combat bad policy. And on this year's filibuster, she received support nationwide. Yet in return, to not take a stand on the shutdown is problematic. Many of us were there for her when she stood up on principle. It would be nice to see that support reciprocated in this case.
Finally, let's look at the shutdown itself. The GOP House refused to enter into conference committee for 6 months to resolve the differences between the House and Senate budgets. And now, they are shutting down the government with the simple goal of defunding the Affordable Care Act. I respectfully ask - why is it so difficult for Senator Davis to support President Obama and Democrats on the shutdown? We have tried to work with the GOP on the budget and have been rebuffed. And now the GOP wants to deny millions, including Texans, health care. There shouldn't be any neutrality on this. No state needs the Affordable Care Act more than Texas, and this is an opportunity for Senator Davis to show that support that we need. I myself will be enrolling in the exchange and am grateful for President Obama's efforts in making this a reality.
Here in Texas, we have talked about making inroads in turning out core Democratic constituencies, including African-Americans and Latinos. Well, it is hard to do that if we are not addressing the issues that these constituencies have. Affordable health care is definitely a core issue for our base here in Texas. I hope Senator Davis realizes that such statements can be construed as a lack of willingness to fight on these issues. And distancing yourself from President Obama will not help you with these voters. This is a truth that Bill White found out in the 2010 campaign.
I have worked hard in the past to help get President Obama and other Democrats elected. And I will do so again in 2014 with Wendy Davis. But I have seen a particular movie in Texas too many times. It is a movie where the candidate distances himself or herself from President Obama, thinking it will get them some Republican voters. In the end, however, it does not help them and they lose. And the turnout of core constituencies does not materialize. After all, if they are not seeing support on the issues that matter to them, they are less likely to see the differences between candidates.
I do not want to see a repeat of this movie in 2014. It is time to move into a new era in Texas.
Burnt Orange Report unanimously and enthusiastically endorses Wendy Davis in the Democratic Primary for Governor, and urges our readership to not only vote for her but work hard to elect her in November 2014.
While usually we wait to endorse in primaries -- let alone general elections -- until close to the beginning of early voting, we are not waiting to endorse Davis, so that we can urge our readers to support her and openly advocate for her election.
Wendy Davis is the leader our state needs at a critical moment: when the promise of Texas looks as though it may become elusive for too many, and the costs of opportunity too high except for the lucky few.
While our economy is strong, those benefits are not felt by all working people in Texas. Too many Texans -- 28.8%, the highest in the nation -- lack health insurance, and access to affordable, quality healthcare. Our public schools lag most states in per-pupil spending, our graduation rates are low, our rates of air and water pollution are high.
We know that Texas can and must do better for all Texans, and Wendy Davis offers voters the best promise of that future.
Welcome to our first weekly round up of election news in the state of Texas! It has been a big week, with the launch of our candidate trackers. Burnt Orange Report is currently watching 223 of the partisan races that will appear on the November 2014 general election ballots throughout the state of Texas. Every Monday morning, this column will recap all the changes made to our elections charts and other significant elections news we covered in the previous week.
The big news last week: Sen. Wendy Davis announced October 3rd will be the date when we find out what office she will seek in 2014. Previously, Sen. Davis had said she had limited her options to Governor or re-election to the Texas Senate. In ten short days, we will finally know!
On Friday afternoon, State Rep. Tryon Lewis (R-Odessa)announced he would retire from the Texas House at the end of his current term. Rep. Lewis will have only served three terms in the Texas House and currently serves as the Chair of the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence. Before his election in 2008, Rep. Lewis was a State District Judge for over twenty years. This means, House District 81, where President Obama got 24.18% in 2014, will be open in next year's general election.
Click after the jump to see the 44 other changes made on the ratings charts this week, including the 23 lawmakers Burnt Orange Report confirmed are seeking re-election in 2014.
Included in the poll was a complete list of general election match-ups between Republicans Governor Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott, and Senator John Cornyn against Democrats State Senator Wendy Davis, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and former Houston Mayor and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Bill White.
In all twelve potential contests, the Democrats trail by anywhere from seven to nineteen points, but that story would bury the lead. The real story here is how unknown all potential candidates not named Rick Perry are by the Texas electorate.