Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously upheld the EPA’s landmark pollution standards which were issued earlier this year and would limit the emission of greenhouse gasses by large industrial facilities, would establish fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles, and would find that greenhouse pollution endangers human health and well being. The ruling followed the 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, which found that carbon emissions, and other greenhouse gasses, could be regulated under the Clean Air Act of 1990.
The judges emphatically denied lawsuits brought by Texas’s Attorney General, Greg Abbott, and an industry group called the Coalition For Responsible Regulation (which does not have a website and has apparently strong ties to the Belgian chemical giant Solvay) stating:
We conclude, [that] 1) the Endangerment Finding and Tailpipe Rule are neither arbitrary nor capricious; 2) EPA's interpretation of the governing [Clean Air Act] provisions is unambiguously correct; and 3) no petitioner has standing to challenge the Timing and Tailoring Rules.
The judges expressed exasperation with the various lawsuits, saying “[t]his is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”
Many primary night losers have remained tight-lipped in their runoff support, but there have been some potentially decisive endorsements in the past week.
CD-23: In an interesting twist, former candidate for CD-23 John Bustamante has enthusiastically endorsed former rival Ciro Rodriguez over Pete Gallego. In the first time around, Bustamante finished a distant third, earning 13.22% of the vote. Still, the Gallego campaign believes they have a genuine shot at winning over Bustamante's supporters. They argue that those who supported Bustamante know Rodriguez well and went with an alternative, making it unlikely they would support him the second time. Many saw Gallego as the favorite in the race as he earned the support of much of the Democratic establishment including Rep. Joaquin Castro. Additionally, Gallego outspent Rodriguez nine to one. But it was Rodriguez who emerged as the top vote-getter on Primary night, and he seems to be picking up significant steam in his fight to return to Congress.
Railroad Commissioner: In the race to replace Elizabeth Ames Jones as Texas Railroad Commissioner, State Rep. Warren Chisum has won over the endorsements of former challengers Becky Berger and Roland Sledge. Both candidates touted Chisum's qualifications as motivating their decisions. Chisum finished second on Primary night, trailing Christi Craddick by just over eight percentage points. Each candidate ran on being the most conservative and competed rigorously to prove how much they hated the Environmental Protection Agency. Craddick is an oil and gas attorney and Chisum is a state Rep. from Pampa. With the dismal turnout expected for the runoff, the winner of this race is difficult to predict, but endorsements like these serve to help remind voters that the election hasn't ended yet.
HD-117: Democrats have a pick-up opportunity in HD-117 in San Antonio. In the first round, voters failed to to coalesce behind a single candidate given the strengths of former councilman Phillip Cortez, Annie's List candidate and President of the Mexican-American Bar Association Tina Torres, and businessman Ken Mireles. Mireles, who missed the runoff, has given a huge boost to Torres' campaign as he has enthusiastically endorsed her over Cortez. Torres responded to the news exclaiming, "Together we garnered 65% of the vote in the primary and by combining forces I know we will win the run-off."
Below the jump, check out Burnt Orange Report's Texas primary endorsement tracker, and keep on top of who's picked whom so far.
(Attorney General Greg Abbott has signaled to donors that he will run for governor in 2014, setting up a potential challenge to Rick Perry. We polled that hypothetical match-up back in May 2012. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
As part of our year-long statewide polling series, BOR PAC and People Calling People conducted a survey of likely Republican primary voters to determine their sentiments on Mitt Romney's de facto Republican nomination, the Republican primary races for US Senate and Railroad Commissioner, and a hypothetical 2014 Republican primary match-up for Governor. We defined "likely voter" to mean a registered voter who had voted in at least two of the last three Republican Primaries (2006, 2008, 2010). Calls were placed to a random subset of those voters May 15-16, 2012.
Here are the results.
"In the Republican primary for US Senate, the candidates are Glenn Addison, Joe Agris, Kurt Cleaver, Ted Cruz, David Dewhurst, Ben Gambini, Craig James, Tom Leppert, and Lela Pittinger. Who do you plan to vote for in the Republican primary for US Senate?"
TOTAL (MOE 4.2%, 557 responses)
The poll confirms what political chatterers had surmised for months: Dewhurst and Cruz look poised to head to a late-July run-off for the Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. That has to give Cruz hope that he can prevail in a low-turnout hyper-partisan electorate, since the solicitor general has enjoyed more Tea Party and activist support than Dewhurst, whose main constituency seems to be Rick Perry's corporate sugar daddies. A Senate run-off pitting Cruz' grassroots hordes vs. Dewhurst's fat cats has to give serious pause to any moderate Republicans who may be headed to a run-off in down-ballot races, and could play a role in the inevitable run-offs in various Republican Congressional primaries (namely CD-14, CD-25, and CD-36). The only real question is if Dewhurst can spend his way to avoid a run-off, but given the margin he needs to make up to clear 50%, it looks unlikely.
Notably, the results also look a lot like the UT/TT poll released today. Dewhurst is in the low 40's and looks likely to go into a run-off with Cruz. That "internal Dewhurst campaign memo" circulated last week and leaked to Politico claiming that Leppert had pushed past Cruz into second place does indeed appear to be smoke and mirrors.
"In the primary for a full term on the Texas Railroad Commission, the candidates are Becky Berger, Beryl Burgess, Warren Chisum, Joe Cotten, Christi Craddick, and Roland Sledge. Who do you plan to vote for in the Republican primary for Texas Railroad Commissioner?"
TOTAL (MOE 4.5%, 479 responses)
In the race to fill the seat vacated by Michael Williams, it's clear that no candidate has managed to break through the crowded field, despite their ridiculous TV ads and escalating anti-EPA rhetoric. Over one third of the electorate is undecided, while Chisum and Craddick are the leaders here, the latter doing well likely based on sheer last-name ID alone. Unfortunately for Roland Sledge, despite his shocking TV ad in which Sledge vows not to pee on an electric fence, he's not making a splash with voters. The Republican electorate isn't trickling down from the undecided column into Sledge's camp. Unless his campaign is willing to leak any more-favorable internal polling, it's unlikely that on May 29th anyone will say to Sledge, "urine a run-off."
"In the 2014 Republican primary for Governor, if Attorney General Greg Abbott decided to challenge Governor Rick Perry, who would you support? "
TOTAL (MOE 4.6%, 462 responses)
It's clear that Abbott is quietly angling to be the next Governor of Texas, what with his sue-the-Feds this and his down-with-women's-rights that. However, Governor Perry is claiming that he plans to run for re-election, either to prevent being the lamest duck next session or because he thinks it will better position him for another failed Presidential bid in 2016. Regardless, the Republican primary voters we polled have Abbott within 10% of Perry in this hypothetical match-up, which bodes well for the hard-charging Attorney General should he tilt at the incumbent Governor.
"How satisfied are you with Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee?"
TOTAL (MOE 3.7%, 718 responses)
We also asked Republican primary voters how they felt about presumptive nominee Mitt Romney. Only two thirds of Republicans are satisfied with the flip-flopping Massachusetts governor, whose healthcare plan was part of the foundation of Obamacare. One third of Republicans surveyed seem unwilling to go along with Romney, and 17% self-report as Dissatisfied or Very Dissatisfied. One wonders about the remaining third of the Republican primary electorate -- are they Ron Paul supporters? Do they want a more conservative candidate? Would a third-party conservative candidate like Rick Santorum or a legitimate Tea Partier like Debra Medina appeal to the 33% of Republican primary voters who are not satisfied with Romney? Most importantly, will they be too dismayed about their Presidential pick that they'll stay home this November?
This is BOR's Video of the Day, or VOTD, our nightly video clip segment that hopefully provides you with a laugh or a chance to think at the end of the day.
OMG you guys! This ad for Railroad Commissioner is the campaign equivalent of what would happen if Michael Bay, There Will Be Blood, and that infamous "Big John" ad had a three-way while wearing hard-hats. Take a look:
Totally hilarious! I'm sorry, was this meant to be serious? Chisum looks so goofy in that hard hat. Can he give up his campaign and just make this into a B movie? It makes me giggle.
GOP Ad Checklist:
"Obamacare" -- No, but he does promise to stand up to the EPA.
Slamming the Feds -- See above.
Women's Health -- No; also, not relevant here.
Guns, God, Gays -- Total shotgun shell glamour shots.
Bonus points: "fighting the liberals," image of candidate atop a horse. After all, why explain what a railroad commissioner does when you can show yourself hunting and saying grace? Hilarious.
Check out all of our BOR videos of the day on the VOTD tag.
Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, dismissed by Rick Perry earlier in the year in the GOP gubernatorial primary, should expect a crowded primary field for her United States Senate seat should she decide to run again. Courtesy of the Star-Telegram:
"She personifies everything that the Tea Party is fighting," said Konni Burton, a member of the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party steering committee. "She is a Republican, but when you check her votes on many issues, they are not ones that conservatives are happy with."
Adrian Murray, president of the grassroots 912 Project Fort Worth, said: "For the sake of what's left of her own reputation and credibility, she should not run again. She got shellacked in the primary, and that should have been [a] signal enough that we're done with her. KBH epitomizes the slick career politician that so many in the movement despise."
You are quite likely to have better luck guessing Texas Lottery numbers than you are guessing if Kay Bailey Hutchison will run again for the U.S. Senate or simply retire. God only knows, honey. Her motivation for running for governor against Perry really settled on the fact she was angling for that Governor's mansion as a retirement home. However, given her tarnished record and personality at the hands of Republican Perry, Hutchison may be forced out of her seat whether she wishes to be or not. The likes of Weatherford car salesman Roger Williams and Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams all claim to be running regardless of Hutchison's plan. They've seen this horror flick before after all, having been bit by Kay's capitulation in the past.
I'm not certain that Hutchison is politically savvy enough to know what is going on here, which is that moderates in today's Republican Party are not welcome and becoming far more extinct with each passing day. The withering fire and utter chaos that has erupted in the recent race for Speaker of the Texas House between the moderate Joe Strauss and his extreme challengers Warren Chisum and Ken Paxton is indicative of what is occurring throughout the country with this marriage of convenience between the GOP and the Tea Party. As Kay Bay can attest to, and now Strauss as well, the Tea Party doesn't play fair, they play nasty with a mission to tarnish, burn, and ultimately destroy one's reputation. Hutchison has proven once before she really doesn't have the stomach for the type of race that Tea Party extremists like Rick Perry run. As Joe Strauss is realizing within the Texas House, politicians like he and Kay Bay could be all that stands between an ultra-conservative, extreme takeover of the modern Republican Party and the destruction of GOP moderates along the way.
Should Republican Speaker of the House Joe Strauss be strong enough to retain his powerful position he'll have his hands full in holding together a very volatile GOP caucus. Republican extremist Warren Chisum is certainly fraying Strauss' pledges for the Speaker's job so we don't know where this race will end. This nasty and contentious race for the Speakership of the Texas House is most certainly a preview of the upcoming 82nd Session, which will pit moderates against extremists for overall influence and direction of the Texas GOP. Most certainly newly elected Teapot extremists, combined with the fringe GOP that was already in the legislature, have winnowed the influence of moderate Republicans and we see that pent up anger on the part of the extremists coming to fruition now.
We saw this battle between moderates and extremists first unfold when Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison challenged Rick Perry for the 2010 Republican nomination for Governor. Hutchison had long been considered a pragmatic moderate never of the extreme mold that Rick Perry chiseled for himself. Republican Perry defeated the moderate Hutchison in the primary and continued his extreme campaign against the moderate Democratic candidate, Bill White. The former Mayor of Houston retained many platform points and themes that Hutchison utilized in her race against Perry, but the pragmatic, moderate White lost the most recent November 2nd General Election.
As a result of the recent November 2nd elections the Republican legislative caucus increased to Super Majority status, and along with it entered a new crop of extreme elephants that threaten to trample what is left of moderates in the Texas GOP.
The following very contentions issues are likely to cause this internal party battle between moderates and extremists to continue and boil over into the public:
The estimated $20-25 billion dollar budget shortfall
With a "no new taxes pledge," newly elected extreme Republicans and their allies are already talking up the possibility of opting out of the federal Medicaid program. Doing so would leave a large swath of Texans, including seniors and children--the most vulnerable in our society, without health insurance. Rick Perry even proclaimed that Texas can run its own program without federal assistance, which essentially means Republicans will end Medicaid and do nothing to provide Health Care for the most vulnerable amongst us who rely on it. If Medicaid is on the cutting block you know that the Children's Health Insurance Program is too. And as we all know, public education has long been a favorite target for a slash and burn Republican approach to governing. Higher education is a target too. All this to say, the moderates, or what is left of them, are all that stands between a full dismantling of government as we know it, and perhaps trimming the sides a bit. Look for the budget shortfall to be one of the top contentious issues that could cause the Republican caucus to explode with internal family strife.
If ever a case existed in which politicians are attempting to craft a solution to a problem that doesn't exist voter suppression legislation ranks high. In a divided 81st Legislative session Republicans were very close in passing "Voter ID," had it not been for the Democratic caucus chubbing the legislation to death. With a Super Majority, Republicans certainly have the votes to ram through the long desired extreme Indiana-style legislation that would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters including seniors, veterans, and minorities. Republican moderates attempted to reach across the aisle to Democrats and work out compromise legislation in 2009 with no success. If moderates that are left don't warm up to the most extreme Indiana-style voter suppression legislation preferred by the new extreme Republican majority, look for this contentious issue to result in a traditional family reunion-like quarrel.
Arizona-style Immigration Reform
Republican Debbie Riddle, arguably the chair of the extreme element of the Texas Republican Party, championed not only Arizona-style immigration legislation, but something tougher then even that. Rick Perry took a moderate position in the recent gubernatorial election, recognizing that attacking the fastest growing population in the country's 2nd largest state is not smart politics for the future of the GOP. Will newly elected Republican extremists get the message that Arizona-style legislation, or tougher, is not good for Texas or the GOP? If not, this contentious issue could become the proverbial nail in the caucus coffin.
As we have seen from the Washington D.C. policy-making process, having super majorities doesn't always result in the legislation the majority party expects. A Party such as the GOP that has prided itself on caucus discipline married itself to the most extreme, fringe elements of Republicans in order to win this cycle. Given the contentious and pressing issues facing all legislators in 2011, this marriage could very well end in a bitter divorce two years from now.
Rightwing voter suppression tactics may cause the death of any legislation passing out of the Texas House.
This is a simple situation of the far right not being able to agree with the moderate Republicans in the House who are trying to at least attempt to compromise with Democrats. There are a large group of Democrats who want to preserve the ability of every Texan to vote, and so it is the middle of the pack on both sides of the aisle who will get this bill passed.
Brandi Grissom of the El Paso times sums up the fight in a piece yesterday.
GOP lawmakers unwilling to compromise on strict voter identification requirements they have made a priority at the Capitol may be the very ones who kill the effort in the Texas House, state Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, said Wednesday.
"If the far right is unwilling to accommodate on this legislation to any extent, then they do have the power to succeed in killing voter ID, and I will certainly allow them to do so," Smith said.
Today, House Elections Committee Chairman Todd Smith circulated a new, more restrictive version of the Republican Voter ID bill that absolutely requires a Photo ID before a voter would be allowed to cast a regular ballot. The Committee could consider and vote out this legislation on short notice as early as this afternoon or at any time called by Chairman Smith.
Call the House Elections Committee members and tell them you support House Democrats' call for Chairman Smith to schedule a public hearing on this unacceptable version of the Voter ID bill before the Committee even considers taking a vote.
Smith, R-Euless, backed away from his original plan, which allowed voters to present a photo ID or two forms of non-photo ID, after 71 of the 76 House Republicans issued a statement insisting on a strict photo ID law.
In another major change, Smith also modified a provision in his earlier proposal that would have kept the bill from taking effect for four years in order to educate voters about the new ID requirements. Now it would become effective in January 2011.
Voters who are indigent, have a religious objection to the documentation, or live in a nursing home would be exempt from the photo ID requirements in Smith's revised plan. The bill would also exempt voters who are at least 70 years old and never had a birth certificate because their births weren't recorded with a state vital statistics office.
It's important to note these changes make the House voter suppression bill worse than SB 362.
As the Texas Democratic Party points out, Voter ID requirements place costly and time-consuming new bureaucratic barriers between voters and the ballot box that will make it harder for all of us to vote. There is no evidence of voter impersonation and Texans face far more urgent problems, but Texas Republicans are following a national Republican agenda to keep failed leaders in office with laws that would reduce turnout among seniors, students, people of color and those with lower incomes.
The fact that SB362 and ever other voter suppression bill is legislation in search of a problem may be a big reason why nobody in the Republican Party can agree on how to legislate it.
The Austin Chronicle has an incredibly impressive write up of the on-going shenanigans. Lee Nichols talked with Republican Todd Smith who said:
"But they want it without any money for registering voters, or without a transition period, or without a signature verifying process," Smith continued. "Then I don't get the marginal votes. It's time to find out whether Rep. Brown and Rep. Harper-Brown want a voter ID bill, because my distinct impression at this point is that they do not. For whatever reason, I am under the distinct impression that they want to kill it, and I may give them the opportunity to do that."
There are only a few weeks left, and the fact the target is moving around so much is the exact reason why more public input is necessary. People's ability to engage in our democracy is too important to have a thrown together piece of partisan legislation.
There are only two solutions. 1) more public input to work through possible problems and legal challenges or 2) refuse to pass a radical, restrictive piece of anti-voter legislation.
In either case, Speaker Joe Straus and Election Committee Chair Todd Smith are the two people in the drivers seats now.
Corte was late to support fellow Bexar county Representative and fellow Republican Straus (if he ever really did). In fact, Corte has been a loyal Craddick lieutenant which is where his influence came from.
He said some people thought it would be good to have the speaker and the GOP caucus leader from San Antonio. Others thought Corte might be put in the awkward position of criticizing a member of his local delegation.
Corte said he's interested in helping rebuilding the House GOP majority and thought he could do that better outside the caucus leadership.
Corte, Craddick, and Chisum have lost control of the Texas House and they are quickly losing control of the state. It will be interesting to see how many bills these men pass with little influence.
Where's Tom Craddick? The Capitol press knows the beleaguered House Speaker has called a meeting today for his "team," meaning a meeting of his mythical majority. And it's the mythical nature of that majority that's causing him to play hide-and-seek with his meeting.
The Gang of 11 (anti-Craddick Republicans) guarantees 11 votes or more for Joe Straus. The Democrats have released 64 votes committed to voting against Tom Craddick. John Smithee has all but announced. Warren Chisum is trying to talk Craddick out of the race, and he puts Craddick's support in the 50s. That's 77 members, two more than half the House. It's a clear majority, even if Chisum retreats back to Craddick the way he's retreated from some of his public comments.
Some members formerly known as "Craddick Ds" appear to be walking away from that dangerous adjective, "Craddick," before the "D." And they will vote against Craddick.
Uncommitted members of both parties are meeting and talking one-on-one with Straus, who has collected more pledges already, making that easy-to-count 77 even bigger.
Some time today Craddick (R-Midland), is having a meeting. However, the location of the meeting is more illusive than Craddick's support for re-election.
So far the list of rumored locations includes:
Agriculture Room in the Texas Capitol
The Austin Club
Ruth's Chris on 6th Street
With three very different venues and the needed space small, its hard to tell where Tom Craddick will go.
Craddick has never been one to shy away from announcing his numbers or shielding his supporters. Why now? Simple answer, he doesn't have the votes and he is playing hide-and-seek with the press and public to hide his obvious vulnerability.
That's why we need your help.
We can't be at all of these place at once (and there's no certainty the meeting will be at any of them). We need your help finding Craddick's super secret meeting and if possible getting video of it. Who was there? Who wasn't? Did the press show up? What did the press miss?
This is citizen journalism at its best and your help, well, helps.
This wouldn't be BOR if we didn't offer a super secret prize to anyone who gets video of the meeting or a verified list of its attendees. Or even correctly identifies the time and location.
We continue to speculate that Craddick doesn't have the votes. Phil has shown his shrinking ceiling. Now, help us uncover the ceiling under which Craddick's shrunken support will huddle. Look for venues where 50 or so could gather n private. No need to look for larger venues.
Update: The more will not be the merrier for Tom Craddick. A source tells me that the members still pledged to Craddick will ask him to release them and withdraw from the Speaker race today. He doesn't have the votes. His people know he doesn't have the votes and nobody wants to be the last one to rally to the new speaker.
Will Craddick honor his few supporters and withdraw?
Craddick lieutnant, Appropriations Chairman Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, admitted to me that the speaker is short the votes for re-election and his chances now are largely dependent on the opposition's inability to align behind a candidate.
"I think he (Craddick) is within five or six of getting there. And he may be able to pull that rabbit out of the hat. Now you're getting down to: nobody's got enough right now," Chisum said.
So now we know Craddick's natural ceiling is down to 70 or 69 53 or lower. Which means he can't get there with the same base he had in the 80th session. Chisum's frank discussion makes it look like another candidate might get in this thing.
The two names most rumored are Republican Joe Strauss and Republican John Smithee.
Regardless, it is going to take real, bipartisan support for anyone to be the Speaker of the 81st session.
"I'm guessing in the numbers of 50 to 53, but that's not enough to get there,'' Chisum said. Craddick's camp says the speaker has more than the needed majority but has not released a list of supporters.
"At the end of the meeting, we're going to have a plan," Chisum said. "And the plan is that he stays and we're going to do this and this. Or he decides that I can't make it so you all need to move on."
One possibility, Chisum said, would be a "Plan B" option in which Craddick would withdraw and endorse another candidate.
The bar has moved lower. If Craddick stays in, the clock is ticking. With Chisum, one of Craddick's top lieutenants, saying he doesn't have the numbers it becomes imperative Craddick release his pledge sheet or allow his pledged supporters to someone else.
The interesting thing is how Chisum is directly refuting what Rep. Will Hartnett and Craddick spokersperson Alexis DeLee have been saying for weeks. Both have claimed he has the votes and he will be Speaker for the 81st session. Well, now we learn he isn't close to having the 76 votes he needs and he will probably not be Speaker ever again.