Friday, March 15, 2019

Beto and Castro can run for both president and Senate

It's the good old LBJ law.

In his daily posts about something related to Beto, or the Senate race against Crony-n, "Shelley" Kuffner is yet to show any indication he gets this.

He has managed to conspicuously ignore the woman who's been in the 2020 Senate race for months, who got 24% against Bobo last year in the primary, and he's still pissing in one hand wishing for MJ Hegar/Wendy Davis/some other POS retread establishment conservaDem.  The more wars for oil, the better for his retirement plan.  Everybody votes their self-interest, after all.

It's still odd that his pining for Beto and/or Julián overlooks the historical and legal quirk that Lloyd Bentsen last took advantage of in 1988.  Ross Ramsey cleared this up weeks ago.

The law that allows Texans to run for two national offices at the same time is known as the LBJ law because it was passed to allow Johnson to run for both the vice presidency and for re-election in 1960. In his case, and later in Bentsen’s, it meant an incumbent didn’t have to risk the seat he already had for a higher one he wanted. Johnson, as it turned out, didn’t need the protection; Bentsen did. 

I've been saying for weeks that I did not think RFO'R would take on Corndog, and I still don't.  He's a top five presidential challenger upon entry yesterday, with plenty of media calf cramping, and he has 8 months to decide whether to file for another run at the upper chamber of Congress.  Castro is a different story; he's getting no traction, even after gouging Bernie Sanders on reparations at SXSW this past week.  Julián's White House bid is on life support and brother Joaquin would be an idiot to give up his seat in the House.

[B]oth O’Rourke and Castro would be eligible to be on the Texas ticket for Senate and for president or vice president, if they so desired. Texas law prevents candidates from filing for more than one office, except for that LBJ exemption. And the exemption in the Texas Election Code is broader than history might indicate: “This section does not apply to candidacy for the office of president or vice-president of the United States and another office.”

Yes, either dude is more likely, IMHO at this very early stage, to wind up as someone's #2 than the presidential nominee.  They would balance a ticket nicely with Kamala Harris, or Liz Warren, or Amy Klobuchar.  Maybe even Cory Booker.  And fantasize about the possibilities, Donkeys, with both Beto and Castro -- or vice versa, pun intended -- at the top of the '20 Lone Star ballot.  Even George Will knows that the GOP is roadkill if Texas turns blue.

So while my vote still goes to Bernie Sanders and Sema Hernandez as Democratic federal standard-bearers, I get that there are some jackasses that wouldn't be happy with those choices.  Maybe too many.  We'll see how things go in about a year.

But this is a spitballing post, and you decide what sticks or doesn't.  I think the most interesting question could be: what if Beto and Julián both run for president and Senate?  Who might you vote for in that case?  (I'd still be voting for Bernie and Sema.)  And what if there was a Senate runoff between O'Rourke and Castro next April, after the March 3rd, 2020, "Super Duper Tuesday" presidential primary results were known?

How about that!

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Hellza been poppin' the past week.  Been hard for me just to keep up on Twitter.

Should I post anything serious about Bob, or just the snark?

The Berners blew up the latest Kos poll.  (They destroyed Markos' official one, you know, so he put it out of its misery).  There goes last cycle's establishment narrative for those.  Maybe someone on teevee will point that out, but you won't ever read about it on DK.

Having used the FiveThirtyEight perspective for a few weeks now -- we'll come back to it shortly -- let's check in on some GOP takes about the field.  National Review's Dan McLaughlin, "Five Lanes..."  (Go ahead and click over.  It's not too bad.)

With Beto O’Rourke’s announcement [yesterday] morning, Joe Biden is the last major contender on the fence. Eric Swalwell, Steve Bullock, and Michael Bennet have all been scouting out Iowa (Swalwell’s home state) or New Hampshire (Bennet has been running digital ads in early states). Bennet seems the least likely of these to run, given John Hickenlooper’s entry in the race (Bennet was running the Denver schools back when Hickenlooper was mayor of Denver, so their fundraising bases overlap closely). Given the palpable desire to finally put the Clinton era in the rearview mirror, it is hard to see the rationale for a Terry McAuliffe campaign. Stacey Abrams, who lost the Georgia governor’s race in 2018, has lately begun musing about a run and reversed herself Monday after appearing to shut the door. With a late start organizing and never having won election above the state-house level, Abrams seems much likelier to stick to a 2020 Senate run or plan for a rematch for governor. 

I can buy all of that, and include Andrew Gillum as the third southern Democratic 2018 Senate loser who may -- or may not -- join the fray with actual intentions of simply raising their national profile high enough to land on the ticket as VP.

Anyway, McLaughlin's five lanes are 1) race/gender; 2) age/familiarity; 3) anger; 4) ideology; and 5) the Midwest question.  Here's one more snip from the first lane.

... [T]he 2016 Democratic electorate regularly featured more black voters and fewer white voters than 2008. In South Carolina, for example, the Democratic-primary electorate was 43 percent white and 55 percent black in 2008, 35 percent white and 61 percent black in 2016. By 2016, black women alone (37 percent of the primary voters) outnumbered all white voters in the South Carolina primary. In Texas, white voters declined from 49 percent to 43 percent. That reflects overall trends within the party, especially in the South and Midwest: Older, white ancestral Democrats died off or left the party in the Obama years, while younger generations of Democrats included more nonwhite voters. Obama’s general-election campaigns also increased the registration and participation rates among African-American voters in particular. African-American women remain the most reliably Democratic of all voter demographics, and turnout among black women is now at least competitive with that of any other voter group, quite unlike pre-Obama turnout patterns. That has major implications for Democratic primaries.

McLaughlin ranks the contenders today with Kamala Harris in first, followed by Beto, Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and in sixth ... Bernie Sanders.  I can buy some of that.

-- and the superdelegates.

... [T]he prospect of a contested convention gets all the more real.

That’s because the Democratic Party changed its nominating rules over the controversial role superdelegates played in Hillary Clinton’s nomination in 2016. Now, only pledged delegates will vote on the first ballot at the national convention in Milwaukee next July -- not superdelegates. The Democratic National Committee’s rule change was meant to prevent superdelegates from casting the deciding vote in the first round of voting, but with so many candidates in the race, superdelegates could still play an outsized role. If the results of the primaries and caucuses spread pledged delegates too thin and no one candidate has a majority, it means superdelegates could still swing the nomination when they cast their preference in a second ballot vote. So in this case, O’Rourke’s relatively late entry into the field, and perhaps that of former Vice President Joe Biden soon, may not be good for the party unless some Democratic challengers drop out or a clear front-runner emerges long before next July.

-- Go on and read about your preferred candidates there.  I'm posting just this one.

Andrew Yang

Yang announced this week that he’s surpassed the 65,000 donor threshold necessary to earn a spot in the first Democratic primary debate. Provided the number of candidates who reach the threshold does not surpass 20 -- at which point candidates would then be winnowed by poll performance --  Yang will become the first Democratic non-politician to earn a spot in a presidential primary debate since Al Sharpton in 2004.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Weekly #SXSW Wrangle

Some of the Texas Progressive Alliance spent the weekend at South by Southwest, where 2020 presidential candidates lined up for the cattle call.

The Texas Tribune had a full slate of one-on-one interviews, including Amy Klobuchar, John Kasich, Liz Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Bill Weld, Jay Inslee, Julián Castro,and John Hickenlooper.  CNN live-blogged their town halls with John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, and Buttigieg.

The documentary about Beto O'Rourke's 2018 run for the US Senate premiered, and the candidate surprised the theater audience with an appearance, but no presidential announcement was made.  Politico quotes one insider who is no longer impressed with the extended delay.

“It’s a bit much,” said one Democratic strategist who has spoken with O’Rourke about working on the 2020 campaign. “The question is: Does he have a secret sauce that no one knows about — that no reporter, no operative, no strategist understands? Or is this just ‘The Beto Show’? And if this is just ‘The Beto Show,’ there’s a breaking point between strategy and narcissism.”

PDiddie's weekly 2020 wrap at Brains and Eggs is already out of date; Kuff is skeptical of early polls but notes that Trump's as-yet-unknown opponent leads him in a recent UT/TexTrib survey; and
Socratic Gadfly has a twofer from the presidential campaign trail: women candidates who pander to gender stereotypes and Feel the Bern enthusiasts who engage in conspiracy thinking.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also made a splash.

Via Latino Rebels, RAICES Texas (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) has an art exhibit at SXSW called "AbolishICEbox".

Some other anticipated feature films and documentaries opened for SXSW fans.  Texas Standard:

Janet Pierson is the director of film at SXSW and provides a guide to what’s good this year. The selection process for SXSW Film is particularly competitive, she says.

”Every year, we approach the admissions process with the same intent. We’ve got 2500 feature submissions and 5500 short submissions and we’re… looking for 130 features that will really jump out to us and 110 shorts.”

This year, the process yielded many strong films -- more than usual. The opening night film, “Us,” was an easy choice, though.

SXSW is also showing “Longshot” featuring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen. Pierson says it  is a “really smart, satisfying rom-com – who knew?”

Anticipation for one of this year’s films began with a previous success.

“‘Spring Breakers’ was a huge title for us. We’ve had Harmony Korine at SXSW with a lot of different films. ‘Spring Breakers’ was one of the nights that people still talk about being the ultimate night,” Pierson says. “Beach Bum” is this wonderful revisiting to... the same place and same characters with some age on. The most incredible cast you could ever’s Matthew Mcconaughey and Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill, Jimmy Buffett...”

Though SXSW isn’t a regional festival, it does have a unique relationship to Texas films.

“The Texas relationship to films in the festival does seem stronger than usual,” Pierson says. “It’s always something we care about, but it’s always still a fraction of the whole. Of course, everyone is so excited about ‘Running with Beto’ ... ‘The River in the Wall’ is not to be missed. It’s this extraordinary cut -- just look at the landscape, the Texas landscape, through the whole southern border.”

In Texas Lege special elections, Christina Morales defeated Melissa Noriega for the right to represent the voters of House District 145 (Houston).

There is still one more vacant seat in the Legislature — that of former Rep. Justin Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, now a Bexar County commissioner. That vacancy will be filled by a March 12 special election runoff between Democrat Ray Lopez and Republican Fred Rangel.

TXElects believes runoff turnout favors one candidate.

Over the five (EV) days, a total of 5,228 people voted in person, exceeding the 12-day total for the February special election, including mail ballots. ... Just under half of all votes were cast at the Maury Maverick Library. In 2018, Republicans cast 47% of the straight-party votes in the precincts contiguous to and in the precinct where the library is located. Such a turnout pattern stands to benefit Republican Fred Rangel. No Republican has held the seat since it moved to Bexar County from Harris County in 1993. We’ll have live results beginning at 7 p.m. CDT on Tuesday at

Justin Miller at the Texas Observer thinks Dan Patrick has decided to blow up the Lege's comity for the sake of the usual conservative extremist agenda.  And Michael Barajas wrote about how the Tea Party fueled the most recent voter-fraud freakout.  Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer echoed that, pointing out that SoS David Whitley is entirely within the mainstream of the RPTX.

In this very critical year for public education funding, Texas teachers went to Austin to lobby lawmakers today.

Republican State Representative Dan Huberty authored House Bill 3, the school finance bill that has been introduced in the House and has been dubbed “The Texas Plan.” It proposes a $7 billion increase for public education, while the Senate’s proposal increases school funding by approximately $3.9 billion. The Senate version includes a $5,000 pay raise for full-time teachers and librarians. The House version does not includes pay raises, but does call for merit-based pay increases for teachers. 

Zeph Capo, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said the Senate’s proposed $5,000 pay raise is a good start but isn’t enough because Texas teachers would need to get a $7,000 raise per year to reach the national average, according to data from the National Education Association.

For Capo, one of the downsides of the Senate bill is that it doesn’t include raises for paraprofessionals, those who assist teachers on their daily tasks, and other public school employees such as bus drivers. “The entire team is important and everybody needs to be included in some way,” he said.

Capo commended House Bill 3 because it proposes a higher increase in funding than the Senate bill, but said that too much of the increase is connected to merit–based pay systems.

He also said the state’s turnover of math and science teachers is particularly concerning, noting many are leaving education jobs because they can double their salaries in the private sector.

Grits for Breakfast collated the latest marijuana reform news, notes, and questions at the Lege.

Leif Reigstad at Texas Monthly criticizes the Court of Criminal Appeals' ruling against the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Texas Vox supports making Election Day a state holiday.

Quianta Moore and Sadie Funk write for the HouChron calling for greater investment in early childhood development.

In an announcement this morning, the DNC -- aka Chairman Tom Perez -- passed over Houston and selected Milwaukee, WI for its 2020 national convention.  Pages of Victory blogged about his beef with the Democrats.

A long-form piece at LareDOS, 'A River Ran Through It', details growing up with the water of the Rio Grande (and how it has changed).

Texas Standard reports on how the state's increasing reliance on wind and solar power makes the power grid less nimble at peak usage.

 “You can’t store that wind power or solar power for when you need it.”

A sad dad's Missouri City doughnut shop got a big boost after his son's Tweet went viral.

Beyond Bones has a list of the best places to go fossil hunting that are a daytrip from H-Town.

The TPA bids a fond farewell to Swamplot, the best thing that ever happened to Houston real estate.

And Harry Hamid's occurrence at Fargo Street may not have even happened.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Sunday Funnies

Please send a healing thought to Don Asmussen of the San Francisco Chronicle, the 'Bad Reporter' cartoonist.  Here's his toon from last November,  just before surgery, and his Tweet from February 24 updating his health status.

Friday, March 08, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

-- Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown became the first surprise exit from the presidential campaign yesterday.

Brown said in a statement that he was confident other candidates would adopt his political mantra — "the dignity of work" — and that he would continue working against President Donald Trump in the Senate instead of joining the crowded Democratic primary field.

"We’ve seen candidates begin taking up the dignity of work fight, and we have seen voters across the country demanding it — because dignity of work is a value that unites all of us," Brown said in the statement. "It is how we beat Trump, and it is how we should govern."

-- Yeah, why did three centrists and one progressive jump out of the hot tub?

Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor; Eric Holder, the former United States attorney general; and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon officially declared … drumroll, please … that they would not be running for president in 2020. A fourth Democrat, Hillary Clinton, also said “I’m not running” to a New York City television station.

Such is the state of Democratic fervor to challenge President Trump that the party now has a subset of politicians: the almost-rans.

Bloomberg said he felt his time and personal fortune would be better used promoting immigration reform, gun control and climate change. Holder wants to continue focusing on ending gerrymandering. Mrs. Clinton, who never seriously pursued a third primary bid, said she would keep “standing up for what I believe.” And Merkley will seek a third term in the Senate in 2020, after the (Oregon) state legislature rejected his request to allow him to run for both positions simultaneously.

For those first three, I believe it's something more obvious (though for the first two, their issues re-orientation is laudable).  Tina Nguyen at Vanity Fair:

On Wednesday, Politico reported that (Joe Biden) has hired Cristóbal Alex, a high-placed alum from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the current president of the Latino Victory Fund. Meanwhile, according to Fox Business Network’s Charlie Gasparino, Biden has notified his network of Wall Street supporters that an announcement is “all but certain” in the next month. That mirrors what my colleague William D. Cohan reported last week: with Bloomberg out of the way, Wall Street executives close to Biden say, the centrist-friendly lane is wide open. And who better scratches the establishment's sweet spot between Full Socialism and Donald Trump?

Yes, there it is.

-- Meanwhile, Howard Schultz brews up a steaming pot of spoiler.  Maybe a different flavor than you were expecting, however.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has recruited at least three veteran House Republican staffers and consultants to join his presidential campaign-in-waiting, bringing on seasoned and well-connected GOP operatives who know their way around the very political apparatus helping to reelect President Trump in 2020.

They include Brendon DelToro and Matt LoParco, who served as deputy political director and external affairs director, respectively, to former National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) during the 2018 cycle.

A third Schultz hire, GOP consultant Greg Strimple, founder of GS Strategy Group, has done polling and other consulting for the NRCC, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), according to campaign finance reports.

The hires are reflective of Schultz’s efforts to cast himself as a political centrist who doesn’t neatly fit into the rank-and-file of either major party. They also signal that Schultz, a lifelong Democrat, is likely to make a play for Republican voters should he mount a campaign for the White House.

So perhaps Democrats have less to worry about than they think ... ?  What follows is the best argument one could possibly make to a skeptical etablishmentarian to get the big money out of our political system.

Sources said Schultz, a billionaire, is throwing big money at experienced, professional Democratic and Republican operatives alike — annual salaries perhaps in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In January, Schultz hired veteran GOP strategist Steve Schmidt and veteran Democratic strategist Bill Burton.

“I would insist on $500,000 a year, plus moving expenses,” said a former veteran GOP presidential campaign staffer who has been closely watching the Schultz campaign take shape. “It’s a tremendous financial opportunity. Senior jobs in a presidential campaign don’t grow on trees, and if you are not enthused about working for Trump, it’s alluring. I don’t begrudge these people at all.”

Last cycle, DelToro and LoParco worked out of the same Republican National Committee headquarters, which Trump has now merged with his 2020 reelection campaign. The merged venture is known as Trump Victory.

I got nothing to add.  Let's see what the rest of the field did last week, courtesy as always

-- CO Gov. John Hickenlooper entered the scrum on Monday.

“I’m running for president because we need dreamers in Washington, but we also need to get things done,” Hickenlooper said in the video. “I’ve proven again and again I can bring people together to produce the progressive change Washington has failed to deliver.”

In an interview on “Good Morning America” Monday, Hickenlooper touted his work with a divided legislature in Colorado to pass progressive policies, including environmental and gun control regulations.

On Thursday, Hickenlooper held a kick-off event in Denver, and on Friday and Saturday he’ll visit Iowa, according to his campaign, before being interviewed at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas on Sunday.

That last link is the TexTrib's streamer.  Here's their lineup for the weekend.

Saturday, March 9:
  • 11 a.m.: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota., speaks with Kara Swisher, co-founder and editor-at-large of Recode.
  • 12:30 p.m.: Former Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, speaks with Washington Post associate editor David Maraniss.
  • 2 p.m.: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, speaks with Time contributor Anand Giridharadas.
  • 3:30 p.m.: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks with Ana Marie Cox, the host of the Crooked Media podcast “With Friends Like These."
  • 5 p.m.: Former Gov. Bill Weld speaks with Wired contributing editor Garrett M. Graff.
Sunday, March 10:
  • 9:30 a.m.: Interview with Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Washington.
  • 11 a.m.: Julián Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, speaks with HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen.
  • 12:30 p.m.: Former Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado, speaks with BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith.

CNN also has three Democratic contenders on Sunday night.

-- Bernie Sanders is in Iowa this weekend; Council Bluffs last night.

Iowa City and Des Moines tonight and tomorrow night.

-- Kamala Harris is still riding rough seas.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday on a scandal that engulfed Harris’ San Francisco district attorney’s office involving a crime lab technician who allegedly mishandled evidence, leading to the dismissal of nearly 1,000 drug-related cases. The California senator took responsibility for her office’s handling of the situation, but at the time was criticized for mismanagement and failing to disclose the wrongdoing.


This weekend, Harris will travel to South Carolina for several meet-and-greet events across the state and the Charleston Black Expo Economic Empowerment Summit in Charleston Saturday.

-- Liz Warren is having a good week.

In a statement Wednesday, Warren weighed in on the controversy engulfing Rep. Ilhan Omar, taking issue with the way Omar’s critiques have been labeled.

“Branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse and makes it harder to achieve a peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians,” the Massachusetts senator said.

Warren will hold an organizing event in New York City on Friday, participate in a conversation at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas on Saturday and attend another organizing event in Dallas on Sunday.

Much more about the many vying for attention here.

Monday, March 04, 2019

'Les Bon Temps' Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance couldn't decide between barbecue from RodeoHouston or mudbugs for Mardi Gras this past weekend, so we had both.

Here's the weekly round-up of the best blog posts and news from around the Lone Star State.

Polling by Quinnipiac for the 2020 presidential election in Texas revealed a dead heat between Trump and three Democratic contenders: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Beto'Rourke.  Other potential challengers trailed the president in the much-too-soon survey.

The latest UT/TexTrib sampling of Texans on the issues that might drive the 2020 elections at the federal level -- climate change, healthcare, and raising income taxes on top earners -- revealed the stark partisan divides.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs stayed busy with Donkey 2020 news: Bernie Sanders' CNN town hall, the regular Friday wrap that included Jay Inslee's kickoff, and some candidate developments on the Green Party front.

Socratic Gadfly looked at bright line-drawing in the sand by backers of one presidential candidate, and reminded us of the historic value of third parties.

Off the Kuff considered a possible Joaquin Castro candidacy for Senate (joining the corporate media in blindness to the only declared challenger to John Cornyn to this point, Sema Hernandez).

Early voting begins today in one Texas House special election, and Election Day is tomorrow for another.  TXElects:

HD125 special: The five-day early voting period begins Monday for the runoff election between Fred Rangel and former San Antonio council member Ray Lopez.

HD145 special: Early voting has concluded for the special runoff election. [...] We will have live results and analysis beginning at 7 p.m. CST on Tuesday at

Voters will choose between funeral home owner Christina Morales and former Houston council member (and former state representative) Melissa Noriega.  TXElects also had some fundraising disclosures.

Morales has out-raised Noriega, $123K to $67K, and outspent her, $93K to $86K.

Morales’s top contributors for the period were Houston attorney Roland Garcia ($4K), HillCo PAC ($3K), Plumbers Local Union No. 68 PAC ($2.5K), Houston entertainment businessman Charles Kalas ($2K), Houston pharmaceutical sales specialist Adrian Castillo ($2K) and Texas Medical Assoc. TEXPAC ($2K).

Texans for Public Justice linked to the AP account of Greg Abbott's fundraising prowess.  The numbers nearly defy common adjectives, to say nothing of common sense.

As governor of Texas, Republican Greg Abbott doesn’t flash the White House ambitions of his predecessors or their big personalities. But in just five years he has quietly built his own distinction: Taking in more cash from donors than any governor in U.S. history.

Few others even come close. Since first running in 2013, Abbott has accepted more than $120 million in political contributions, an Associated Press review of campaign filings shows. He has been showered with big-donor money on a scale that is prohibited in most states and far beyond limits for members of Congress — more than 200 times receiving contributions of $100,000 or more.


“The sizes of the checks he asks for, his relentlessness — he never stops fundraising,” said George Seay, who was the Texas finance chair for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s first presidential run in 2012. “It’s a machine probably not duplicated, if at all, around the rest of the country.”

His style isn’t a soft touch. “If someone might be expecting a $50,000 ask, he’ll ask for $250,000,” Seay said.


Critics have suggested that money is just Abbott’s way of quantifying power, and that he collects it from those who want appointments or influence over policy.

“Abbott stockpiling that money is just a reflection of a one-party state that seems to protect the donor class in Texas,” said Craig McDonald, executive director of the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice. “It says more about how the system works and is bigger than Greg Abbott himself.”


Most remarkable, though, is how Abbott has become almost a party unto himself. Fortified by his donors, he was able to spend more than $2 million last year targeting a few GOP lawmakers who crossed him and to help ideological allies threatened by a minor Democratic resurgence in Texas. He could spare it: that was more money alone than what Abbott’s Democratic opponent, Lupe Valdez, raised in her own feeble campaign.

During the 2018 midterm election, party leaders say Republican Sen. Ted Cruz had a field staff of 18 for the political fight of his life against Democrat Beto O’Rourke. By comparison, Abbott financed a machine of about 200 for his own lopsided campaign and other races he wanted to influence.

“There’s no sense in being governor unless you have a legislature supportive of your ideas,” said Dave Carney, Abbott’s longtime political adviser.

Ross Ramsey at the Texas Tribune continued publishing the state's best political analysis with this piece on the resorting of Congressional targets by the GOP and the Democrats, and with this reminder that O'Rourke and Julian Castro can run for both president and US Senate next year because of the LBJ law.

In a flurry of posts from the Lege, Equality Texas warned of bad 'religious exemption' bills moving in the state Senate, and Better Texas Blog called one of those bills, SB 15, a "step backwards" for hard-working Texans.  Juan Juarez at the Rivard Report argued that Texas needs nondiscrimination laws for LGBT teachers, while the TSTA Blog pointed out that there are powerful interests that don't want to see teachers get a pay raise.  This despite the fact that while the Permanent Education Fund's coffers are overflowing, Texas Standard spoke to the Houston Chronicle's Susan Oliver, who wrote that public schools are getting less money from it than ever. 

Texas Vox threw its support behind a bill that would establish an identification system for those in need during a declared state of disaster.  And Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast aggregates criminal justice legislation, leading off with the marijuana reform debate in the Texas House and a porch piracy-as-state jail felony bill filed by Rep. Gene Wu that Henson considers a bad idea.

HPM reports that while a federal judge has blocked the purge of voters as Texas -- led by SOS David Whitley and AG Ken Paxton -- questioned their citizenship status, a state Senate committee advanced Whitley's nomination on a party-line vote to the full body for confirmation.  All Democrats in the chamber oppose him, enough to reject his appointment and force him from office, but LG Dan Patrick is likely to call that vote when some Senate Democrats are not available.

Somervell County Salon reposted the news and the ruling about the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals striking down the punishment provision of the state's Open Meetings Act on grounds of constitutionality.  From the HouChron:

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday struck down a key provision of the state’s Open Meetings Act, finding the section that makes it a crime for government officials to meet secretly to discuss the public’s business is “unconstitutionally vague.”

The ruling makes such violations no longer punishable as crimes in Texas, so long as the meetings do not involve a majority of a governing board such as a school district, city council or county commission.

“The court stuck a knife into the heart of the Open Meetings Act,” said Joe Larsen, a board member of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas who has worked on the case. “It’s the real world where the consequences are going to be backroom deals hidden from the public.”

The city of Dallas' climate plan -- advertised as public and participatory -- is neither, writes Downwinders at Risk.  And Arlington's changes to its gas drilling ordinance come up short, say activists quoted by GreenSource DFW.

The Tyer Morning Telegraph spoke with Venezuelans living in East Texas about the issues currently facing their homeland.

Christopher Collins at the Texas Observer covered Amarillo's plan to stop fighting with its homeless encampment and instead help them find housing.

To mark Texas Independence Day, BeyondBones has the story of why we were never supposed to be a Republic.

When Sam Houston sent delegates to Washington D.C. in 1836 to propose annexation, they were shut down. The U.S. had been interested in annexing Texas since the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and had attempted multiple times to purchase Texas from Mexico during the 1820’s. But by 1836 Texas had become a political hot potato. First off, annexing Texas would provoke war with Mexico; second, it would add another slave state to the union, upsetting the balance between slave and free states first established by the Missouri Compromise in 1820 and carefully maintained ever since.


So Texas was left to fend for itself. Houston withdrew the offer of annexation in 1838. Predictably, the next place Texas went to for support was Great Britain. Who could blame them? Access to British foreign markets would drastically boost trade and help Texas pay off its crippling debts. At first the Brits were not very interested in Texas, partly because the young nation had slavery, an institution which Britain had made it its mission to eradicate, and partly because they were already intimately involved with Mexico and didn’t want to sour trade relations with that country. However, as Mexico proved unable to settle its own foreign debts due to political upheaval, Parliament began to take more interest in the Lone Star Nation. Supporting Texas would have been beneficial to them in a few ways. For one, since Texas was a small, newly established nation they would be able to make profitable trade agreements much like they had with many developing Latin American countries. Texas was a big producer of cotton, which the British textile industry needed. Also, Texas could serve as a buffer between Mexico and the U.S., discouraging further American westward expansion, which might affect British commerce. With these benefits in mind, Great Britain was increasingly tempted to extend a helping hand to the fledgling nation during the early 1840’s.

It’s the British interest in Texas (as a country) that finally encouraged the U.S. to seriously consider annexing Texas. Once Britain had made inroads into the nation, it would be very difficult to wrest it from their grip. In 1845 President John Tyler requested Congress to pass a joint resolution to annex Texas.

The Rivard Report noted San Antonio's Menger Hotel celebrating its 160th birthday and anticipated renewal as the Alamo Plaza is redeveloped.

Two pieces of music news wrap up this week's Wrangle; the San Antonio Current's review of the Trampled by Turtles concert at Gruene Hall was entertaining, and Cardi B broke Garth Brooks' RodeoHouston attendance record (by three fans), last Friday night, and posted her love for the crowd and her inspiration for the performance (Selena).

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Sunday Funnies

Trump's epically bad week: Cohen testimony, North Korean summit fail, Kushner security clearance scandal, Felix Sater on deck, Otto Warmbier's parents blast his excusing Kim for son's death

Trump brazenly violates Emoluments Clause with golf course tweet

The seven most bizarre moments from Trump's two-hour, off-script, profanity-laced rant at CPAC

Breakout Sessions at CPAC (click it to big it)

Friday, March 01, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Already blogged some on the topic this week, so I'll just refer you to Bernie's CNN townhall wrap-up last Tuesday and yesterday's Green Party candidates post.

-- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared this morning.  Andy Kroll:

So Jay Inslee is running for president. His vision, he tells Rolling Stone, is an administration organized around the climate crisis, an entire federal government working in unison to decarbonize the economy and help save the planet. No candidate has his record on the issue, and none of them have said nearly enough about it, he says. “A lot of these candidates want to check the box,” he tells me. But one sentence in their campaign-launch events doesn’t solve this problem. “This has to be the number-one priority of the United States,” he insists. “Every agency has to be on board, and it has to take priority over everything else we do. You have to build a mandate for this during the campaign, and you have to express a willingness to spend your political capital to get this done. I think too many other candidates are going to say, ‘I’m for the Green New Deal, and now I’m done.’ That just doesn’t cut it.”

David Roberts, "Dr. Vox":

After years on the periphery of American political life, climate change is having a bit of a moment. Activists (along with five Democratic presidential candidates and at least 100 members of Congress) have rallied behind a Green New Deal that proposes a crash program to decarbonize the US economy. Polls on climate change show rising rates of concern across the country and among both political parties. It seems that after decades near the bottom of Democratic priority list, climate has broken into the top two or three.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who will announce his presidential candidacy Friday morning, is hoping to seize that moment. Over the course of his 30-year career in public life — first in the Washington state legislature, then in the House of Representatives, then, since 2012, governor of Washington state — he has always prioritized sustainability, and not always to his political benefit. Now he sees his signature issue and the national zeitgeist aligning at last, and he thinks it can take him to the White House.

In 2007, Inslee released a book (co-written with Bracken Hendricks) called Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy. It called for a broad suite of emission-reducing policies, led by massive investments in American clean energy jobs, with a focus on environmental justice. If that sounds familiar, well, they didn’t call it a Green New Deal, but it was pretty green, and pretty New Deal.

Now, to his delight, a youth movement has thrust a similar plan into the center of national debate. He thinks he’s the guy to take it over the finish line.

Some are not impressed.

-- Let's look at the 'leaners', as reported by 538.  Everybody has seen Beto's latest strip tease, so no need to mention him again until he shits or gets off the pot.

Michael Bennet
During a trip to Iowa last weekend, Bennet told the Des Moines Register that he is “leaning toward” entering the presidential race. The newspaper also reported that he spent much of his four stops in the Hawkeye State speaking about education — Bennet was the superintendent of Denver Public Schools for four years.

“I think we need an education president,” Bennet told the Register. “There’s no public good that’s more important than education.”

Joe Biden
Biden said Tuesday at a University of Delaware event that his family has signed-off on a presidential run, explaining that after a “family meeting,” there was a “consensus.”

“The most important people in my life want me to run,” the former vice president said.

As for the timeline of his own decision, Biden revealed that he is in the “final stages” of the process and told the New York Times that a potential campaign would begin during the year’s second quarter.

“It’s something that I have to make sure that I could run a first-rate effort to do this and make clear where I think the country should go and how to get there,” he said publicly. “That’s the process going on right now. That’s as straightforward as I can be. I have not made the final decision, but don’t be surprised.”

Michael Bloomberg
Bloomberg picked up a preemptive endorsement from fellow billionaire Warren Buffett, who revealed his affinity for the former New York City mayor in an interview with CNBC.

“I think that he knows how to run things, I think that he’s got the right goals for America, he understands people, he understands the market system,” Buffett said.

Politico reported Thursday that representatives of Bloomberg were beginning to look at office space in New York City and interviewing potential staffers.

Bloomberg stopped in Nevada Tuesday to praise the state’s new gun background check law. During a news conference related to the legislation he noted that he was still undecided on a presidential run.

Sherrod Brown
Brown took his “dignity of workmessage to Nevada earlier this week, where he said that if he chooses to run for president, he’ll be “the most pro-union candidate.”

“We will have a government on the side of workers, not a government on the side of big corporations,” the Ohio senator told members of the Culinary Union Saturday in Las Vegas.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, however, Brown said he has yet to reach a final decision on a presidential run, but would do so by the end of March.

Bill de Blasio
The New York City mayor visited Iowa last weekend, where he spoke to a crowd of 40 people at a union hall and met with former Gov. Tom Vilsack.

De Blasio acknowledged that he is “not a candidate at this moment,” but argued that Democrats “have to have a progressive as our nominee.”

“We have to be able to speak to working people across our whole country,” he continued. “We also have to have a nominee who is believable as a leader in such an important position.”

John Hickenlooper
The former Colorado governor continues to take steps towards a presidential run, expected to be announced some time in early March. Last weekend, Hickenlooper held meet-and-greet events in Sioux City and Carroll, Iowa, and spoke at the Story County Democrats’ Annual Soup Dinner.

A spokesperson for Hickenlooper told the Associated Press that he has raised over $1 million for his political action committee.

-- There's potentially another GOP primary challenger to join Bill Weld.

Larry Hogan
As speculation grows that the Maryland governor could launch a challenge to Trump, Hogan asked in a Washington Post interview why the Republican National Committee was taking steps to declare its support for the president and potentially shut down primaries.

“If he has unanimous support and everybody is on board, why shut down the normal process?” Hogan said. “It’s almost like a hostage situation.”

Referring to the governor specifically on Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said that any other potential challengers to Trump “have the right to jump in and lose.”

--And another CNN townhall is on the schedule -- to be held in Austin at SXSW on March 10 -- with some of the lesser publicized candidates to be featured.

Delaney, who is also a former businessman and entrepreneur, was the first to announce his candidacy in July 2017. Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, announced her White House bid in January while Buttigieg, who is seeking to become the party's first openly gay nominee, launched an exploratory committee last month.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Liz Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Julián Castro will also speak at SXSW, but I cannot find any indication that CNN will be hosting a town hall for those candidates at post time.

Go over to FiveThirtyEight for more on Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Andrew Yang.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

You won't have Jill Stein to kick around any more

Somewhat buried inside this New Republic piece by Emily Atkin on the Green New Deal are some interesting reveals about the US Green Party's 2020 presidential aspirations.  I'll break up the excerpts quite a bit, so if you want to read the full piece but get stopped by NR's subscription wall, there's an easy workaround.  If you can't figure it out then ask me how in the comments.

Howie Hawkins, a 66-year-old Green Party member from New York, says he was the first American political candidate to run on the promise of a Green New Deal. During his run for governor in 2010, he proposed a plan to fight climate change “with the same urgency, speed, and commitment of resources that our country demonstrated in converting to war production for the mobilization for World War II.”


“It’s a little frustrating to not have a dialogue between those of us who have been working on the Green New Deal for quite some time, and people who want to keep it solely in the realm of the Democratic Party,” said Ian Schlakman, a Baltimore-based Green Party member who’s running for president.“There are some Democrats who acknowledge the existence of third parties and independents. Congresswoman Cortez is not one of those people.”

Hawkins -- who told me he’s launching a presidential exploratory committee in the coming weeks -- also thinks the Green New Deal is being unfairly co-opted. But he’s happy that it’s become mainstream, because now the Green Party can expose the Democrats for the corporatists they truly are. “It’s our opportunity to explain how the Democratic establishment ... chopped away the pieces,” he said.

Pause for news update/explainer: AOC's GND proposal, co-sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey, is just a resolution, not a bill, and Mitch McConnell's power play to put petroleum-soaked Democrats on the spot about it is producing some breathless pearl-clutching from Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.  Protests outside McConnell's office earlier this week had no effect.  Schumer has already countered McConnell with a milquetoast Senate resolution.

Back to the central point of this post.

Stein has suggested she won’t seek the party’s nomination in 2020, so there’s potential for a new Green voice. But it’s not yet clear who that will be. Aside from Hawkins and Schlakman, only 12 people have officially declared their candidacy for the Green Party nomination. It’s hard to tell which are serious. Kanye Deez Nutz West most likely is not. But Dario Hunter is, and he’s about as diverse as candidates come: black, gay, Iranian, and Jewish. He’s also an ordained rabbi, a former environmental attorney, and a school board member in Youngstown, Ohio. These qualities all make him an ideal new voice for the party, he said. “If we want to cut through the lack of attention given [to Greens], we need someone who has a loud and clear voice and a tough skin,” he said. “It takes a tough skin to be an openly gay black son-of-an immigrant Jewish rabbi.”

Why should there be attention given to Greens, though, now that Democrats have embraced the Green New Deal? Simple, said Hunter: “This Democratic version of the Green New Deal is watered down. It pales in comparison to ours.”

I'm leaving out some good parts, but the following is the best of the entire article, IMO.

This is why some Greens say the 2020 presidential race is not a challenge so much as an opportunity to expose Democrats. “There is this growing cafeteria socialism where Democrats pick and choose elements here and there and put them on a platter because they sound conducive to running a progressive-sounding campaign,” Hunter said. “If you are espousing Medicare for All and free college for everyone, but ultimately still allowing for capitalist interests to run amok … then you are not a socialist. You’re just running on a platform that draws people in falsely.”

Calling Ocasio-Cortez a fake progressive is a risky game, given that she’s one of the most popular Democrats in America. But it does seem like the natural place for the Green Party to go in 2020. Third parties, after all, are historically for people who not only dislike the two major parties, but don’t believe the major parties will ever change. “I think if you work within the Democratic system, you have to be incredibly honest about who the Democrats are, which is that they are pro-capitalism, very moderate, and don’t want to move very far left to tackle the challenges we see worldwide,” Schlakman said. “Sure there’s an avenue for socialists to upend the Democratic Party from the inside, but they’d really have to be at war with their own party. And I don’t see that in Congresswoman Cortez.”

The chances of a socialist revolution within the Democratic Party is unlikely. Only one of its presidential candidates even uses that term to refer to himself, with the modifier “democratic” -- and Bernie Sanders isn’t even a member of the party. So the Green Party surely still appeals to those who want the American economy to become fully eco-socialist; an inconsequential niche of voters, electorally speaking. But that’s not to say the party is without political influence. The Greens’ history as a spoiler threat might keep the Democrats honest, ensuring they don’t nominate a moderate who won’t at least entertain Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

Then again, leftist voters may be so motivated to remove Trump from office that they’d hold their noses and vote for, say, Amy Klobuchar or Joe Biden.

So while I read a few mischaracterizations and "mal-assumptions" in there, nevertheless some kernels of thought were germinated about how Dems see Greens, Greens view Dems, and each see -- and fail to see -- themselves.

I would wish that Ajamu Baraka, the 2016 vice-presidential nominee, would be willing to stand for Green Party president in 2020, but Kevin Zeese at Independent Political Report -- who has some extended thoughts on this topic as well -- says he has 'decided not to run'.  And that Texans most likely will not have a GP candidate to vote for on their ballot next year anyway makes this conversation from a Lone Star perspective unfortunately moot.

That's why I'm #BernieorBust.  Again.