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Entries in Texas (85)

Tuesday
Feb072012

Back in Texas, Rick Perry’s Adamant He Still Has the Fight

Alex Wong/Getty Images(ROUND ROCK, Texas) -- Back on his home turf in the Lone Star State, in his first public appearance since leaving the presidential race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry vowed he wouldn’t fade away into obscurity now that he’s off the presidential campaign trail and returning to his duties as governor.

“I’m not slipping off in to the sunset.  I’m not riding off into the West.  We’ve got plenty of work to do right here in the state of Texas,” said Perry at a hotel ballroom just north of Austin, adding, ”and I’ve got plenty of fight left in this 61-year-old body.”

Speaking before the Williamson County GOP Dinner, Perry, who dropped out of the race in mid-January, admitted his withdrawal from the presidential campaign symbolized a new frontier as the Texas governor suffered the first defeat of his 28-year political career.

“Aggies have a really interesting way of admitting defeat,” said Perry, an alumnus of Texas A&M.  “We’ve never been outscored.  We just ran out of time, and the fact is I’m really not used to running out of time but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.”

Eighteen days after he declared an end to his candidacy, Perry, accompanied by his wife, Anita, was at ease as he addressed the crowd in a sort of “welcome home” speech, saying, “I don’t know what y’all have been doing for the last six months, but I think you kind of know what I’ve been up to.”

Perry never referenced the candidate he is now backing in the 2012 race -- Newt Gingrich.  But instead, the Texas governor continued his attacks on President Obama, repeating many of the criticisms he launched against the president during his five months on the campaign trail -- challenging the Obama administration’s rejection of the XL oil pipeline, questioning the pro-choice agenda he’s adopted, and lambasting his other priorities.

“We cannot afford four more years of this misguided socialist policies from President Obama and his administration,” said Perry.

The Texas governor was introduced by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is pursuing a bid for the U.S. Senate.

“He’s back and he’s stronger,” said Dewhurst to applause from the Republican crowd.

Perry’s jaunt onto the national stage will continue later this week when he addresses CPAC in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb062012

Glimmer of Hope in Texas Redistricting Battle Could Preserve April Primary

Hemera/Thinkstock(SAN ANTONIO) -- There was a glimmer of hope Monday for a resolution in the long and tangled battle over Texas’ redistricting maps, when state Attorney General Greg Abbott and members of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund agreed to a set of interim congressional maps.

The rare moment of consensus between the state and the Latino leadership organizations comes just in time to possibly preserve the Lone Star State’s April primary date, which was originally scheduled for Super Tuesday on March 6 but was moved back a month because of the redistricting fight.

As the second-largest state, Texas is fighting to preserve its relevance in a GOP primary race that is beginning to be dominated by Mitt Romney. And while Texas pushes to stay in the heat of the battle, so too is GOP candidate Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich vowed Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation that his campaign would push on through Super Tuesday and said that after Texas voters take to the polls, his goal is to be “about tied in delegates” with Romney.

But the Texas redistricting battle is far from over and thus the state’s primary date is far from certain. Some minority groups still oppose the state’s newest compromise maps and the lingering disagreements may force the Texas primary into late May or June.

MALDEF, which represents Texas’ Latino leadership organizations in the redistricting lawsuit, issued a statement Monday saying it was “amenable” to the new maps and would not challenge them.

“While neither plan is perfect, the Task Force feels it is time to move forward with Texas primaries and let the voters decide the outcome under a legally valid map that protects all existing minority opportunity districts … [and] complies with the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution,” the statement said.

But Trey Martinez Fischer, chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, which represents Texas’ Latino elected officials, said the newest maps “are a beginning point, not an end.”

“The Attorney General presents an illusion of an inclusive map; the reality is that it falls short of recognizing minority growth in Texas,” Martinez Fischer said in a statement posted to the group’s Facebook page. “While all the parties support a primary as soon as possible, we want to ensure that Texans have fair and legal redistricting maps.”

Abbott said in a statement Monday that the newest maps “incorporate reasonable requests” from opposing parties “without compromising the will of the Texas Legislature” and make changes “only where necessary” to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The original maps, drawn by the Republican-controlled state legislature last summer, were immediately challenged by a cohort of Latino advocacy groups which claimed the maps illegally diluted Hispanics’ voting power.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in January that the legislature’s maps violated the Voting Rights Act and sent the maps back to the San Antonio court where a compromise is being hammered out.

Texas gained four new congressional seats following the 2010 Census -- more than any other state -- in large part because of the state’s booming Hispanic population, which accounted for 65 percent of Texas’ population growth over the past decade.

The San Antonio court will hear an additional round of arguments on the compromise proposals Feb. 15. If no consensus is reached then, the Texas primary will again be delayed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan202012

Supreme Court Ruling Favors Texas Decision, Republicans, in Redistricting

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In a big victory for Texas’ Republican Attorney General, the Supreme Court on Friday threw out interim congressional redistricting maps drawn by a federal court in Texas that had favored Democrats.

In a unanimous and unsigned opinion the Supreme Court said that it was “unclear” whether the Texas court had followed the appropriate standards in drawing interim maps to be used for the 2012 election and it ordered the lower court to go back to the drawing board consistent with new guidance from the Supreme Court.

The dispute over the congressional maps has wreaked havoc in Texas and already caused the state to push back its primary date from March to April. How the maps are drawn determines which neighborhoods and areas are represented in which congressional district and influence which party gets more seats in congress.

At issue are two very different set of congressional redistricting maps drawn after 2010 census numbers awarded the state four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Minorities account for the majority of the growth.

One set of maps was drawn up by the Republican dominated State legislature. Democrats and minority rights groups immediately criticized the maps arguing they didn’t reflect the growth of minority representation.

Because Texas is a state with a history of discrimination in voting, it is subject to a provision in the Voting Rights Acts that requires the state to get approval or “preclearance” from the Department of Justice or a federal court in Washington before the maps can be implemented.

While the preclearance process plays out in a federal court in Washington DC, a Texas court drew up another set of maps to be used on an interim basis for the next election.

Those court-drawn maps triggered today’s decision.  Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott charged they were improperly drawn up and should have paid at least some deference to the maps drawn up by the state legislature.

On Friday the Supreme Court agreed, writing that the Texas court should have used the legislature drawn maps at least as a “starting point.”

The court said the legislature-drawn map, “provides important guidance that helps ensure that the district court appropriately confines itself to drawing interim maps that comply with the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, without displacing legitimate state policy judgments with the court’s own preferences.”

Richard L. Hasen election law expert of the University of California, Irvine says, “the Supreme Court sent the case back to the three-judge court in Texas to redraw congressional and legislative lines using Texas’s own plans as a starting point. The Court held that the three-judge court should deviate from Texas’s maps only if it is likely that parts of the maps violate the Voting Rights Act. ”

Minority advocacy groups are sure to be dismayed by the decision. Joined by the Obama administration, they had argued against the use of the legislature drawn maps at all, arguing that they had not yet been precleared as required by Section 5.

Lurking in the background of this case is a much more controversial question: whether Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act itself violates the Constitution. Critics of the landmark 1965 law say that states who had discriminated in the past should no longer be subject to the part of the law that forces any change in the election process to be cleared by the Department of Justice or a federal Court in Washington, D.C.

Only Justice Clarence Thomas addressed the issue Friday.  In a concurring opinion Thomas went farther than his colleagues to reiterate his belief that Secton 5 is unconstitutional.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan102012

Supreme Court Hears Messy Texas Redistricting Case

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The congressional map is wreaking political havoc in Texas and on Monday the Supreme Court waded into the controversy, hearing arguments on who should decide where four new Texas congressional districts should be located.

The justices tried to float possible fixes to disputes relating to redistricting maps in the state, but acknowledged they were working under tight deadlines caused by the upcoming 2012 general election. The case has already caused officials to move the state’s primary.

At issue are two sets of redistricting maps drawn after new census numbers reflected that Texas’ population had exploded since the last census. Minorities account for the majority of the growth. Based on the population increase, Texas was awarded four additional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

One set of maps was drawn up by the Republican dominated State legislature. Democrats and minority rights groups immediately criticized the maps arguing they didn’t reflect the growth of minority representation.

Because Texas is a state with a history of discrimination in voting, it is subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Acts and is required to get approval or “preclearance” from the Department of Justice or a federal court in Washington before the maps can be implemented.

While the preclearance process plays out in a federal court in Washington DC, a Texas court drew up another set of maps to be used on an interim basis for the next election.

Those court-drawn maps, that favor democrats, triggered Monday’s hearing at the high court. Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott charged they were improperly drawn up and asked the Supreme Court to take up the issue.

A few weeks ago, the Court agreed to hear the case on an expedited schedule and temporarily froze the maps.

Paul D. Clement, an attorney for Texas, told the Justices on Monday that the maps drawn up by the Texas court were “profoundly wrong.” He said the Texas court had improperly ordered sweeping changes to the legislative drawn maps and made controversial policy judgments. He said that the Texas court should have given more deference to the maps drawn up by the state legislature.

Clement argues that the Supreme Court should allow the maps drawn by the legislature-not the Texas Court-to be used on a temporary basis in the upcoming election while the preclearance procedure runs its course.

But minority advocacy groups, joined by the Obama administration, say that if the Supreme Court were to allow the use of legislature drawn map, before the preclearance process has played out, it would undermine Section 5′s mandate.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor seemed to agree with that argument.

“I don’t see,” she argued “how we can give deference to an enacted new map, if Section 5 says don’t give it effect until its been precleared … doesn’t that turn Section 5 on its head?”

As things stand now, there are no approved maps in Texas. The Justices grappled with how the Texas Court should have drawn up interim maps and what will happen next.

Lurking behind today’s case is a much larger issue regarding whether Section 5 should continue to be implemented almost 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was signed.

Conservatives argue that states should no longer be subject to preclearance restrictions so many years after discrimination occurred.

In court Monday when Jose Garza, representing minority advocacy groups tried to make the argument that there is “good reason” that Texas is covered by Section 5 , he was cut off by Chief Justice Roberts.

“The constitutionality of Voting Rights Act not at issue here, correct?” But election law experts argue it’s only a matter of time before the Supreme Court address that critical issue.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan042012

Rick Perry Moving Forward: ‘Here We Come, South Carolina’

Alex Wong/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Rick Perry on Wednesday hinted that he has no plans to end his campaign, one day after a fifth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, which prompted the Texas governor to announce a brief hiatus for reassessment.

“And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State,” Perry tweeted Wednesday. “Here we come, South Carolina.”

The Texas governor will likely head to New Hampshire for the debates this weekend and then move on to South Carolina next week, a campaign source told ABC News.

Perry, 61, invested heavily in the Hawkeye State, buying more than $4 million in advertising in Iowa and establishing a strong ground game, which included more than 500 volunteers from 30 different states infiltrating the state in the week before the caucuses. Although Perry spent the most amount of his personal money in Iowa than any other candidate, he only earned 10 percent of the vote in the caucus there.

As the Iowa results Tuesday night showed a hefty loss for Perry, the Texas governor said he would return to his home in Austin to determine whether there is a path forward for his campaign. His aides said they have the money to campaign in South Carolina, but needed to reassess whether it was worth it.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, who finished sixth behind Perry, suspended her campaign Wednesday morning.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec292011

Perry Draws Blank on Landmark Texas Supreme Court Case

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry admitted Thursday that he didn’t know about the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, a case decided while he was governor which struck down the state’s anti-sodomy law and similar laws in 13 others.

A voter at a meet and greet asked him to defend his criticism of limited government in the case.

“I wish I could tell you I knew every Supreme Court case. I don’t, I’m not even going to try to go through every Supreme Court case, that would be -- I’m not a lawyer,” Perry said at the Blue Strawberry Coffee Shop here. “We can sit here and you know play I gotcha questions on what about this Supreme Court case or whatever, but let me tell you, you know and I know that the problem in this country is spending in Washington, D.C., it’s not some Supreme Court case.”

In 2003, the Supreme Court deemed Texas’ anti-sodomy law to be unconstitutional in a 6-3 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, and the case nullified anti-sodomy laws in 13 other states at the same time. Perry, a strong opponent of gay marriage and the ability of homosexuals to serve openly in the military, served as governor when this case was decided.

Asked by Ken Herman, a columnist with the Austin American Statesman, for clarification on whether he knew what the case concerned, Perry responded, “I’m not taking the bar exam … I don’t know what a lot of legal cases involve.”

When told that the Supreme Court case struck down the Texas sodomy law, Perry said, “My position on traditional marriage is clear ... I don’t need a federal law case to explain it to me.”

The Texas governor referenced Lawrence v. Texas in his 2010 book Fed Up!, calling it one of the court cases in which “Texans have a different view of the world than do the nine oligarchs in robes.”

Perry had a previous Supreme Court trip up earlier in the month when he misstated the number of justices on the Supreme Court and stumbled over the name of Justice Sotomayor during an editorial board meeting with the Des Moines Register.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec162011

Voting Rights Controversies Wreak Havoc in Texas

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Texas is once again embroiled in a controversy surrounding redistricting maps redrawn to reflect growth in the Texas population since the last census.

As things now stand, there are no approved district maps, and three separate federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, are racing to untangle the mess that threatens to delay the state’s March 6 primary.

How did it come to this?

When the latest census came out in February 2011, it revealed  that Texas’ population had exploded by more than 4 million people, and that the state would get four more congressional seats. The increase in population was dominated by Hispanics and African-Americans.

As required by federal law, the state legislature set to work to draw new districting maps for the
state’s legislative and congressional seats that would reflect the new census numbers.

But when the new maps were released last spring, minority groups and Democrats were enraged at the results and charged that the Republican-dominated legislature had drawn up maps that did not reflect the growth in minority representation.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires Texas and other states with a history of discrimination  to get approval or “preclearance” from the Department of Justice or a federal court in Washington, D.C., for any election-related changes.

Texas chose to submit the maps directly to the D.C. court and argued that the newly drawn maps did not diminish the ability of minorities to elect candidates of their choice.

The D.C. court recognized that the issue of redistricting and the legislature’s redrawn maps would probably not be resolved in time for deadlines related to the 2012 election, so it asked a panel of federal judges in Texas to draw up interim maps to be used for the upcoming election.
Sparks flew when the court-drawn maps were released: Republicans claimed they favored more Democratic and minority districts.

The Texas’ Attorney General Greg Abott, a Republican, asked the Supreme Court to block the court-drawn maps, arguing that federal judges should have paid some deference and made fewer changes to the maps drawn up by the legislature.

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked the maps and agreed to take up the case on an expedited schedule. Oral arguments will be heard Jan. 9. The decision caused a near meltdown in Texas, as candidates had no idea where and when to file.

Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California at Irvine, who also runs the popular Election Law Blog, said that the Supreme Court might send the case back to the lower courts to draw new districts under new standards.

Some have suggested that the Supreme Court could go further and look at the continued viability of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Hasen doesn’t believe it will. “It’s unlikely that the court would use this case as an opportunity to consider the constitutionality of the preclearance law, but it could well come before the court in the next few years.”

Hasen said  the Supreme Court’s decision could have serious political ramifications for Texas.
“It is potentially very important if we have a close contest for the control of the U.S. House, because up to three or four Democratic seats could be in play, depending  on how the redistricting is conducted.”

The Supreme Court is expected to rule within weeks of the argument.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec092011

In Texas, Romney’s Rich Fans Wait for Perry to Bow Out

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Friends and associates of the Texas governor who want to support Mitt Romney for president are living by a certain credo: Don’t mess with Rick Perry.

Major fundraisers for Romney’s campaign in the Lone Star State say that even though Perry has fallen in national polls since entering the GOP primary, prominent lawmakers, businesspeople and other Texans are afraid to sign a check for Romney out of fear that Perry will turn on them when he returns as governor.

For these major donors, say the fundraisers, it’s a waiting game until Perry loses the contest for the nomination -- then they’ll be free to give to Romney without fear of repercussion.

“People said that he’s gonna lose, and he’s gonna come home, and he’s gonna beat the s*** out of us,” one big-dollar bundler, who feared recrimination and so would speak only anonymously, said of conversations with top donors. “He’s the most vindictive guy there ever was.”

Perry’s campaign rejects the notion that the governor would hold a grudge against prominent Texans who support his opponents in the primary, saying that he conducts his state business based on his views, not on donations.

“When it comes to state business to official policies, political support -- political contributions are completely irrelevant,” said Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan. “Donors need to make their own decisions, and frequently, they will find an excuse to stay on the sidelines, whether those excuses are entirely accurate or not. That is an easier answer than a flat ‘no.’”

But another fundraiser said that people in Texas who have gotten state commissions or appointments feel that they would be “cut off” by Perry if they support Romney while the governor is still competing.

“A lot of them do business with the state,” said this fundraiser, who raised more than $1 million for John McCain in 2008. “They’re just not going to take a chance.”

One well-connected fundraiser in Texas, one of the bigger cash wells for Republican fundraising, said that many bundlers have said, “We want Mitt -- Mitt’s the guy, but we just can’t do anything until Perry is formally out of the equation.”

“Mostly, it’s fear of retribution,” said the fundraiser, who, like the others, would speak candidly about the situation only without being named.

Despite the frustration, Romney’s Texas fundraisers said that rich donors waiting for the general election to take shape will have plenty of time to empty their wallets. “The closer we get to an election and the closer we get to having a limited field,” Zeidman said, “the more they’re getting involved.”

Jeff Wentworth, a state senator who supports Perry, said that closet Romney backers’ worry of a backlash from Perry is a “legitimate concern,” though he questioned whether the governor would be the one to remember their names, rather than his political operatives.

“I think it’s pretty likely Rick’s not going to be the nominee,” Wentworth said. “So whoever you give money to … I guess you do run that risk.”

Leticia Van de Putte, a Democratic state senator, said Perry has a “solid track record of finding disfavor with those who support his opponents” in elections. “What is not tolerated, and he does exercise selective enforcement, is when they give to another candidate who he’s running against,” she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov282011

Dems Could Gain Three Seats in Court-Drawn Texas Redistricting Map

Hemera/Thinkstock(SAN ANTONIO) -- While most Americans were still recovering from their Thanksgiving turkey-induced comas, Democrats in Texas were getting one step closer to gaining three Congressional seats in the traditionally red state’s redistricting battle.

After Democrats and Latino groups filed a lawsuit against the map drawn by the Republican-controlled state legislature, a San Antonio-based federal court redrew the map, which is expected to be finalized on Monday.

Texas, which grew by more than four million people over the past decade, picks up four additional House seats in light of the 2010 Census -- more than any other state.

Minorities accounted for 89 percent of the state’s growth in the past 10 years, with Hispanics alone comprising 65 percent of the state’s population growth over the past decade.

The map, which adjusts the legislature-drawn districts in an attempt to better represent the state’s burgeoning Hispanic population, makes at least three districts more competitive for Democrats by eliminating a Democratic primary challenge in the Austin-San Antonio area and creating two minority opportunity districts.

“This state is changing by the day and our members of Congress should represent those constituencies and not the other way around,” said Trey Martinez Fischer, chairman of the Texas House Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the legislature’s map.

State Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, immediately appealed for a stay on the map.

”It seems apparent that the proposed map misapplies federal law and continues the court’s trend of inappropriately venturing into political policymaking rather than simply applying the law,” Abbott said in a statement Wednesday.  “Perhaps worst, in the name of protecting Hispanic voting power, the court seems to be discarding already elected Republican Hispanics in favor of drawing maps that may elect Democratic Hispanics.”

Abbott’s appeal will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the justices will decide whether to make the San Antonio court re-draw the maps.

Martinez Fisher said a stay from the Supreme Court would be “problematic” because it would create further uncertainty over where the district lines will ultimately be and could possibly delay Texas’s primary election, which is scheduled for March.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct312011

Texas Senate Candidate Says ‘Conservative, Hispanic’ Politicians Face Media ‘Hit’

Bill Clark/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Former Texas Solicitor General and GOP Senate candidate Ted Cruz is often compared to freshman superstar Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.  Both are young (40), Hispanic and quick to highlight their Tea Party credentials. Most important, both are the children of Cuban exiles.

On ABC’s Topline Monday, Cruz lashed out at a recent Washington Post story that charged Rubio with embellishing the facts about his parents’ immigration story.

“I think the Washington Post piece was a hit piece and I think it was silly and it was predictable,” Cruz said. “In my opinion, Marco Rubio’s election in 2010 was the most important election in the country in 2010. And in fact a great many people have been comparing the Texas Senate race between me and [GOP Lt. Gov.] David Dewhurst to that race in 2012 between Marco Rubio and Charlie Christ. Both of us have parents who fled oppression, who came here with nothing seeking the American Dream.”

Cruz went on to say that he, like Rubio, has been accused of telling misleading stories about his own family history.

“It’s interesting, just like the Post did a hit piece, the Dallas Morning News this past week has been going after me on the exact same issues and for whatever reason it seems establishment moderate candidates hand-in-hand with some of the mainstream media like to go after strong, conservative, Hispanic senators or candidates,” he said.

A supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s bid for president, Cruz does part ways with Perry on one of the hot-button issues of immigration.

“There are a number of issues on which I disagree with Rick Perry and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants is one of them,” he said. “I don’t agree with him on that and I think most Texans don’t agree with him either. I think that’s a position where to my mind we have a crisis with illegal immigration, we need to get serious about securing the border and it doesn’t make any sense to give special preferences and privileges to those who are here illegally.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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