Entries in Texas (85)


Texas Senate Primary Hits Final Stretch

Bill Clark/Roll Call(AUSTIN, Texas) -- It's been 19 months and tens of millions of dollars in the making, but the Texas Senate primary between former State Solicitor General Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is finally nearing its end.

Next Tuesday, the two candidates face off in a runoff race for the GOP nomination for the Senate seat left open by Kay Bailey Hutchison's retirement.

When Hutchison announced her decision to retire in January 2011, Dewhurst seemed the likely replacement.  The longtime lieutenant governor had the experience, name recognition and money necessary to run in the Lone Star state.  But as was the case for many other seemingly shoo-in nominees before him, a Tea Party challenger emerged and the race became competitive.

The challenger was Ted Cruz, the former state solicitor general and a rising Tea Party star who has received the backing of such major national conservative politicians as Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin.  Cruz, 41, is young, charismatic and part Hispanic, characteristics that have led to comparisons with another rising Tea Party star, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Cruz and Dewhurst initially faced off in May in the state's Republican presidential and congressional primaries.  But Texas' election bylaws stipulate that candidates must receive at least 50 percent of the vote to win the nomination.  Since neither Dewhurst nor Cruz hit the 50 percent mark in May, amid a primary field that included several other candidates, they face a final runoff on Tuesday.

The race has been brutal at times.  Dewhurst and Cruz have hit hard and consistently at each other for months.  The race also stands out as the most expensive Senate race in the country so far, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.  More than $37 million has been spent, the vast majority of which has come from Dewhurst.  Dewhurst spent $11 million of his own money -- part of a fortune he amassed from his energy company, Falcon Seaboard -- on the campaign out of a total of $19 million spent.

Cruz has raised and spent considerably less, taking in about $8 million and spending about $7 million.  However, what Cruz has lacked in finances he will probably make up for in star power.  Palin, Jim DeMint, Glenn Beck and Santorum will all be campaigning on Cruz's behalf this weekend.  Although Palin has backed several candidates in this election cycle -- Richard Mourdock in Indiana, Deb Fischer in Nebraska, Orrin Hatch in Utah -- all of whom went on to to win their respective Senate primary races, she hasn't been out on the trail that much.

The race is expected to be close, but so was Fischer's race in Nebraska, and Palin didn't turn out to campaign for her.  Palin's stumping for Cruz speaks to the star power the young candidate has amassed.

The candidate who wins the nomination will almost definitely go on to win the Senate seat in this deep red state.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin to Campaign with Ted Cruz in Texas

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Sarah Palin is getting back on the campaign trail. She’ll hit the road this Friday for an evening rally for Ted Cruz, Texas candidate for the U.S. Senate, at the Woodlands, north of Houston, his campaign and a Palin friend confirmed to ABC News.

Palin appeared at an Americans for Prosperity rally earlier this month in Michigan, but she hasn’t been out and about recently in support of candidates she has backed. During the 2010 midterms, she went on tour with the Tea Party Express, making stops throughout the country on behalf of Tea Party candidates.

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint will also be on hand for the 6 p.m. rally, and Rick Santorum will be campaigning with Cruz over the weekend, although the details are still being worked out.

This Friday begins the final weekend before the Texas Republican Senate runoff. On Tuesday, Cruz faces off against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the seat being vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Dewhurst, a former solicitor general of Texas, is backed by Gov. Rick Perry and was once considered a shoe-in until Palin and other conservative favorites got involved in the race.

Cruz’s communications director James Bernsen said they expect large crowds at the events in Dallas and Houston. Bernsen told ABC News that after Palin’s endorsement before the May 31 primary they received between 900 and 1,000 online donations almost immediately.

The former Alaska governor has a stellar GOP primary endorsement record so far this cycle. She backed Orrin Hatch in his Senate primary in Utah, Richard Mourdock in his primary against Dick Lugar in Indiana, and helped Deb Fischer with her surprise victory in Nebraska. She still has not formally endorsed presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, nor joined him on the campaign trail.

The Texas senate race is the most expensive in the country so far this cycle, with more than $37 million spent so far. Dewhurst spent $11 million of his own money alone.

News of Palin campaigning with Cruz was first reported by the National Journal.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


President Obama Wants to Be ‘Pioneer of Insourcing’

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(AUSTIN, Texas) -- President Obama said Tuesday evening he wants to be a “pioneer of insourcing,” in contrast to his opponent, Mitt Romney, who Obama and his campaign are attempting to characterize as a “pioneer of outsourcing.”

“I believe in making things here in America and I believe in inventing things here in America, and Gov. Romney his main calling card for running for office is his business experience, and so understandably American people have been asking, ‘Well, let’s find out what you’ve been doing,’” Obama said to a crowd packed into the Austin Music Hall.

“If your main experience is investing in companies that are called pioneers of outsourcing, then that indicates that we’ve got a different vision because I don’t want to be a pioneer of outsourcing,” he said, standing before a giant American flag and an oversized Texas flag to his right at his third fundraiser of the day in Texas.  “I want to be a pioneer of insourcing.”

Over the past month, the Obama campaign has hammered Romney for his connection to Bain Capital, accusing him of being at the helm of the company while it invested in companies that shipped jobs overseas.

The crowd, which stood shoulder to shoulder in the music venue, responded with loud applause when Obama repeated his support of LGBT issues, spoke about immigration and lauded the Supreme Court’s decision on healthcare.

“We are not rolling back healthcare reform.  The Supreme Court has spoken and we are moving forward,” Obama said to loud cheers and applause.  “If you’ve got healthcare, the only thing that now happens to you -- you’re not paying a tax.  The only thing that’s happening to you is that you have more security because insurance companies can’t jerk you around.”

Obama also pledged not to end funding to Planned Parenthood, an assurance with additional meaning in Texas as the state is locked in a court battle over whether Planned Parenthood should be included in the Women’s Health Program.

Reflecting on his early campaigns in Illinois and his 2008 run, Obama reminded voters of a promise he made to them that despite not being a perfect president, he vowed to look out for their best interests.

“In 2008 I tried to just make promises I could keep, and one of those promises I said to you -- I’m not a perfect man.  I promise you, talk to Michelle now.  I’m not a perfect man,” Obama told the crowd as they laughed.  “I said I wouldn’t be a perfect president but what I said was that I would always tell you where I stood.  I’d always tell you what I thought, and I would spend every single waking hour, as long as I have the privilege of being your president, fighting for you, thinking about you because in you I saw me.”

After appearing in San Antonio earlier on Tuesday, Obama closed out his Texas fundraising spree with two events in Austin -- the public event for 1,100 people at Austin Music Hall priced at $250 a head and a private fundraiser at the home of Tom Meredith, a former Dell executive, at the Four Seasons Residences, costing $25,000 a couple, according to campaign officials.  He is expected to raise more than $4 million on this one-day trip.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Says Texas Will Be a Battleground State 'Soon'

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(SAN ANTONIO) -- Greeting a crowd of donors in Texas on Tuesday, President Obama revved up Democrats in the traditionally red state telling them he sees shades of purple that might ultimately turn blue down the line.

“The next four months, you guys won't see them, because, you know, you're not considered one of the battleground states, although that's going to be changing soon in the next four months,” Obama said of negative ads at a fundraising luncheon at a downtown convention center. “There is going to be more money spent than we've ever seen before, folks writing $10 million checks to try to beat me, running ads with scary voices and basically one message. I mean, it's a very simple message, you know. Their message is the economy is not where it needs to be and it's Obama's fault…There will be variations on the theme, but it will be the same message over and over and over again. That's what they're banking on because they can't sell their actual economic plan. So their goal is to see if they can knock us down.”

President Obama’s Texas fundraising swing, which is expected to net him north of $4 million for his re-election effort, according to campaign officials, is squeezed in between campaign trips to two battleground states – Ohio on Monday and Florida at the end of the week.

Jimmy Carter was the last presidential candidate to win the state of Texas in 1976.  In 2008, then-candidate Obama lost Texas to the Republican nominee Sen. John McCain by nearly 12 points.

But while Republican candidates tend to fare better in the Texas polls, the Lone Star state money race between President Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney is nearly dead even, with Romney taking in only $120 more in Texas than Obama, according to an analysis of FEC filings by ABC News Houston affiliate KTRK. Texans have given more than $7.4 million to each of the candidates.

Obama described the contrast between himself and Romney, pointing to their differences on handling health care, ending the Bush tax cuts, and keeping jobs in America, an issue the Obama campaign has repeatedly raised as it attempts to tie Romney to the outsourcing of jobs at Bain Capital.

“His main calling card for wanting to be president is his private sector experience, so we ask the voters to examine that experience,” Obama said. “He invested, made money investing in companies that have been called pioneers of outsourcing.  I don’t want pioneers of outsourcing in the White House.  I want somebody who believes in in-sourcing.  Let’s bring those jobs back home.  That’s why I’m running for a second term as president of the United States.”

The president spoke to a crowd of approximately 1200 people, who paid at least $250 to attend the event, at a fundraiser in downtown San Antonio.  He then headed to a private fundraiser where attendees paid $38,500 a person to hear the president speak.  Obama will fly to Austin for two additional fundraisers this evening.

The four Texas events today bring President Obama’s fundraiser total to 112 this year, setting a new record of 182 total re-election fundraisers attended by the president in his first term.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry Demands that Obama Apologize

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- The Republican governor of Texas today welcomed President Obama to the Lone Star State by asking him to distance himself from comments made by Attorney General Eric Holder comparing the state’s 2011 voter identification law to a “poll tax,” the Jim Crow-era laws that were declared unconstitutional in 1937.

“Perhaps while the President is visiting Texas, he can take a break from big-dollar fundraisers to disavow his Attorney General’s offensive and incendiary comments regarding our common-sense voter identification law,” Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement. “In labeling the Texas voter ID law as a ‘poll tax,’ Eric Holder purposefully used language designed to inflame passions and incite racial tension. It was not only inappropriate, but simply incorrect on its face. The president should apologize for Holder’s imprudent remarks and for his insulting lawsuit against the people of Texas.”

In a speech to the NAACP one week ago, Holder said that under Texas’s law “many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes.”

Last week, a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court in Washington. D.C. heard arguments in the stand-off between the Obama administration and the state of Texas over the law. While the voter ID itself is free, the documentation required to obtain an ID – a birth certificate, a Social Security card – is not.

In his remarks, the attorney general specifically said that the Texas law would be “harmful to minority voters” because 25 percent of African Americans lack the required identification needed to obtain a voter I.D., as opposed to eight percent of whites.

“Especially in recent months, Texas has – in many ways – been at the center of our national debate about voting rights issues,” Holder said. “Let me be clear: we will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gov. Rick Perry Says Texas Won’t Implement Portions of ‘Obamacare’

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry will send a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday informing her that Texas will not implement two portions of President Obama’s health care plan despite the Supreme Court’s upholding it last month.

Perry specifically will express his opposition to establishing a state health insurance exchange and expanding Medicaid required by the plan.

Ted Oberg of ABC News' Houston affiliate KTRK-TV obtained a portion of the letter that will be sent to Sebelius Monday morning.

“If anyone was in doubt, we in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.  I will not be party to socializing health care and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government,” Perry says in the letter.  “I stand proudly with the growing chorus of governors who reject the Obamacare power grab.  Neither a ‘state’ exchange nor the expansion of Medicaid under this program would result in better ‘patient protection’ or in more ‘affordable care.’  They would only make Texas a mere appendage of the federal government when it comes to health care.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texas Town Rolls Dice to Decide Election

Courtesy City of Webster(WEBSTER, Texas) -- The town of Webster, Texas, is rolling the dice on its newest city council member. Literally.

After Diana Newland and Edward Lapeyre each won 111 votes in a runoff election Saturday and a recount confirmed the result yesterday, Texas election code forced the two to "cast lots." A nearby pair of dice settled the matter: Newland rolled a five, while Lapeyre came up short with a four.

"It seemed odd, but after discussing it [with Lapeyre], we were just ready to get it over with," Newland said, adding that her opponent was gracious about his misfortune. "I could not have gone out and campaigned a third time, and we had already gotten people to come out twice, bless their hearts."

The decisive roll followed two failed attempts. Lapeyre's first roll skipped off the table, and the city secretary had decreed beforehand that a do-over would be triggered by that outcome. When the second throws yielded a tie, Newland said she became "frayed around the edges."

But the third roll ended a race that Newland said had the town of 10,000 abuzz with anticipation since Saturday's inconclusive runoff.

Lapeyre did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

While the tiebreaker was a first for Webster, it was not the first time an election has been left to chance in Texas. In nearby Seabrook, a dice roll determined the second participant in a recent city council runoff. Last month, a coin toss decided the mayoral election in the Panhandle's Wolfbrook. In the Lubbock suburb of Wolfforth, the top two candidates in a city council election agreed to flip a coin instead of competing in a runoff, to save the town $10,000.

In Woodland, Wash., a high school class president flipped a coin in front of a gym packed with students to decide a tied city council race last year.

Sometimes tiebreakers go beyond the traditional dice roll or coin toss. A 2004 election in White Pine County, Nev., went to the candidate who drew the high card from a deck. In 2005, a North Pelham, N.Y., election was decided by drawing straws. In perhaps the most novel tiebreaker in recent history, a Wyoming legislative race was settled by picking ping pong balls out of a cowboy hat.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry Jeered for Dewhurst Support

Toni Sandys/The Washington Post(WASHINGTON) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry was met with jeers today at the Texas GOP Convention in Fort Worth after he expressed support for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Texas Senate primary race. But it seems the governor thought the set of boos was actually a supportive round of “Dew.”

“We need more strong, conservative Texans in Washington, including my friend and colleague David Dewhurst,” Perry said, according to prepared remarks.  Reporters attending the event tweeted about the boos emerging from the conservative audience.

Perry later told reporters that he thought the crowd was yelling “Dew,” a nickname for Dewhurst.

But the discontent with Perry’s endorsement of Dewhurst served as a sign of the crowd’s support for Tea Party darling and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, who is in a runoff against Dewhurst in the Republican Senate primary race.

The Republican primary race for retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat entered into a runoff after Dewhurst failed to gain 50 percent of the vote in the late May primary.  Dewhurst still beat Cruz by 18 points, but fell 2 points short of securing the nomination. The second round of voting will take place July 31.

Perry formally endorsed his lieutenant governor in May and even taped a television advertisement on his behalf.  Dewhurst also received the backing of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, but other major Republican figures leaped to the other side of the race.  Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum threw their backing behind Cruz.  Republican nominee Mitt Romney has stayed out of endorsing in the primary race.

Perry, who engaged in a five-month sprint for the White House, joked with the Republican crowd about his failed presidential bid.

“Twenty million dollars may not earn you any delegates, but it will give you a great tour of the country,” Perry said.

Perry has not ruled out another gubernatorial run in 2014 or even another shot at the presidency in 2016 and continues to keep his plans a mystery.

“I’m not riding off into the sunset. I’m mounting up for the next operation,” Perry said.

But one thing Perry, who endorsed Romney in April, always is eager to highlight is the failings of President Obama. Perry turned his own infamous "oops” moment into a critique of the president by saying, “Admit it America, 2008 was our national ‘oops’ moment.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Pitches to Hispanic Voters, Vows to Be President of ‘All Americans’

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- Making a rare stop in the Lone Star State Tuesday, Mitt Romney made a direct appeal to Hispanic voters, vowing that if elected, he would be the president of "all Americans, Hispanic and otherwise.”

“These have been particularly hard times,” said Romney, who spoke at the Hispanic-run Southwest Office Systems, the largest minority-owned, independent office supply dealer in the country.

“This Obama economy has been hard, particularly on Hispanic businesses and Hispanic-Americans, and I don’t know if you’ve seen the numbers recently, but did you know that the rate of unemployment among Hispanic-Americans rose last month to 11 percent?”

Romney, who has not paid an enormous amount of attention to the Hispanic vote during his campaign -- last month he dedicated an entire speech at the Latino Coalition’s Annual Economic Luncheon to his education policy -- Tuesday honed in on the issues facing Hispanic voters. His campaign released a Web video called “Dismal” to show the impact of Obama’s economic policies on Hispanics.

But it’s an uphill climb for Romney with Hispanic voters, and that was palpable in Texas Tuesday, when a small group of protestors chanting “Education not deportation” disrupted the event. Romney’s immigration plan includes what he called "self-deportation” to get illegal immigrants to return to their home countries, where they can then apply for legal citizenship.

And in an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken earlier this spring, 73 percent of Latinos supported Obama, compared with 26 percent for Romney.

On Tuesday, Romney briefed the crowd on the economic challenges facing Hispanic-Americans.

“And that the people in this country that are poor, living in poverty, one out of three are Hispanic-American,” Romney continued. “And among young Hispanic-Americans the poverty rate is 30 percent. And Hispanic-Americans in large measure have looked to entrepreneurs and innovators and small business to get going, but this has been such an anti-anti-small business, hostile to small business environment that it’s been harder for those businesses to open up their doors and to hire more people.”

Then, specifically pivoting to attacks on the president, Romney asked the crowd of Obama, “So what’s he doing?”

“What’s he doing now? Well it’s amazing three and a half years in, three and a half years in as president, with America in crisis, with 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work, he hasn’t put forth a plan to get us working again,” he said. “Now I know we’re getting close to an election, so he’ll come out with one soon.”

Name-dropping Texan and former President George W. Bush, Romney suggested that Obama uses the former president as a scapegoat for the flailing economy.

“President George W. Bush was at the White House for the unveiling of his painting last week,” said Romney, as the crowd cheered at the sound of Bush’s name. “You know, he’s always an easy target and so he’s blamed. But after three and half years people have figured out this is Obama’s economy, not George Bush’s economy.”

A spokeswoman for the Obama re-election campaign tweaked Romney’s new campaign slogan, “Put Jobs First,” which hung in banner form over the candidate’s head as well as on a placard on the podium, following the event.

“In Texas today, Mitt Romney stood in front of a banner saying ‘put jobs first,' but we already know that he wouldn’t put jobs first as president,” said Lis Smith, Obama campaign spokeswoman.

"As a corporate buyout specialist, he didn’t put jobs first. His only goal was creating wealth for himself and his investors. And he certainly didn’t put jobs first as governor, when he drove Massachusetts down to 47th out of 50 states in job creation. Now he wants to bring back the same policies that crashed the economy and devastated the middle class in the first place: budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthiest on the middle class’ dime and letting Wall Street write its own rules. Romney economics didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texas GOP Senate Primary Going to Runoff

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- The Texas Republican Senate primary will go to a runoff, with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Solicitor General and Tea Party up-and-comer Ted Cruz facing off in the contest, which is scheduled for July 31.

In order to win their party’s nomination outright, a candidate in Texas must receive at least 50 percent of the vote.  With almost all of the precincts reporting, neither candidate was able to do that Tuesday night.  Dewhurst came in first and Cruz followed in second, while former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former ESPN analyst Craig James finished in a distant third and fourth place, respectively.

Cruz has argued that he will be the beneficiary in a runoff.

“If we get to a runoff, we win decisively,” Cruz told ABC News in an interview.

Dewhurst said his strategy in a runoff will be the same as his strategy in the primary -- to be the top vote-getter.

“As long as I do that then we’ll either win the primary on Tuesday night or we’ll win the primary on the runoff date on July 31,″ he said.

Many GOP strategists in the state believe that Cruz will do well in a runoff, as turnout is likely to drop off to a more conservative bloc of voters, who would presumably be inclined to back Cruz.  However, Dewhurst could get a bump from Leppert supporters.  If they turnout in the primary, conventional wisdom is they would likely favor the lieutenant governor over the former solicitor general.

Meanwhile, the Democratic primary in Texas will also go to a runoff between former State Representative Paul Sadler and Grady Yarbrough, a San Antonio resident.  That primary has received significantly less attention however, as the Senate seat, currently held by retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, is widely considered to be safe for Republicans.  Democrats have not won a statewide election in Texas since 1994.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio