Must Read Texas – October 10, 2013

Good (late) morning from Washington, DC.
Here’s the brief:


The Washington Examiner’s David Drucker reports:

Sen. Ted Cruz during a closed-door lunch on Wednesday argued to his Republican colleagues that the campaign he led to defund Obamacare has bolstered the GOP’s political position in dealing with the government shutdown.

Republicans who attended the weekly lunch hosted by Senate conservatives confirmed that Cruz presented a poll that the Texan paid for. Cruz’ pollster, Chris Perkins, was there for a portion of the discussion to help walk members through the poll and discuss the party’s messaging strategy.Perkins is a partner with Wilson Perkins Allen, a GOP polling firm with dozens of Republican clients.

The survey’s findings mirrored other national polls: More voters blame the Republicans for the government shutdown than blame President Obama or the Democrats. But Cruz argued, based on the poll, that Republicans are in a much better position than they were during the 1995 shutdown because this impasse is defined by a disagreement over funding for the Affordable Care Act as opposed to a general disagreement over government spending.

That is notable because, during last week’s conservative luncheon, Cruz was harshly criticized for pushing Republicans into a politically risky government shutdown without a strategy to win the standoff, particularly because polls have consistently shown that voters oppose the defund-or-shut down strategy favored by the senator, despite the fact that they disapprove of Obamacare.

A copy of Cruz’ poll was obtained by the Washington Examiner. The national survey of 815 likely voters was conducted last week immediately after the government shut down. It had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. Among its findings:
– Obama’s job approval rating was 45 percent; his disapproval was 52 percent.
– 67 percent said Obamacare was the “major reason” for the government shutdown.
– By a margin of 46 percent to 39 percent, voters blamed Republicans for the shutdown over “Obama and Democrats.” Another 19 percent blamed both sides equally.
– By a margin of 42 percent to 36 percent, independent voters blamed Republicans for the shutdown over Obama and the Democrats.
– In November 1995, 51 percent of voters blamed Republicans for the shutdown; only 28 percent blamed then-President Clinton


DMN reports Brandon Formby reports this morning:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fining the parent company of the West fertilizer plant that exploded $118,300 for 24 workplace violations, including unsafely handling and storing two dangerous chemicals.

West Fertilizer Co.’s stockpile of one of those chemicals, ammonium nitrate, is what fueled the deadly and destructive explosion after a fire broke out after a workday had already ended. State fire authorities have not been able to determine a cause of the fire.

OSHA’s fines and violations were announced Thursday morning by Sen. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate’s environment and public works committee. Boxer, a California Democrat, said OSHA couldn’t publicize the findings itself because of the federal government’s ongoing partial shutdown.

“So I’m stepping in here so as a result of my telling you these things, another explosion could be prevented,” Boxer said.

Boxer said OSHA found that West Fertilizer Co. failed to train and license its forklift operators, didn’t pressure test replacement hoses on chemical tanks, had inadequate relief valves, did not have an emergency response plan and also didn’t have required fire extinguishers.

“All of these things are pretty much standard operating procedure,” Boxer said.

She also said that OSHA’s investigation isn’t complete. The fire and explosion prompted the federal agency’s look at the West plant – its first since 1985. Boxer said the agency is woefully understaffed to adequately oversee all workplaces. She said to ask Texas’ Republican lawmakers, who largely oppose government regulations and support cutting federal spending, about giving OSHA more resources.

“I don’t think they’re willing to spend any more to put more cops on the beat,” she said.

Meanwhile, the government shutdown has stalled overarching federal efforts at improving chemical safety and investigating the incident. Deadlines set by President Barack Obama for Cabinet members and agency heads to review and overhaul regulations, safety practices, data-sharing and emergency response won’t be met.

Many countries have banned or strictly regulate ammonium nitrate because of its explosive nature. But in the United States, it can be purchased by the ton and receives little coordinated oversight and regulation.


An item perhaps of interest:

A consumer survey taken last week on behalf of the National Legal and Policy Center confirms that public disapproval of the auto bailout continues to dog General Motors, and is likely hurting pickup truck sales, a highly profitable segment of its line.

When 500 consumers in Texas were asked, “Would your decision to buy a specific brand of truck be influenced by whether that company received financial assistance from the federal government?,” 40.08% answered “absolutely.”  Another 11.75% responded “very likely,” and 10.60% responded “likely.” Thus, more than 60% said that the bailout would have some influence on their decision.

Only 23.89% responded “not too likely.”

Texas is the largest truck market in the country, with more sales than the next three states combined.

The release of the survey results comes amidst a major advertising campaign for GM’s full-size trucks – the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra – with significant visibility during the Major League Baseball playoffs.

In September, GM’s full-sized pickup trucks fell 8% from the same month a year ago, while Ford and Chrysler saw sales increases. The survey data tends to confirm assertions yesterday by NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica that many consumers in the truck buyer demographic are avoiding GM products in response to the bailout. Modica pointed out that truck buyers are older, less urban and more politically conservative than other consumers. The GM ad campaign includes the “Strong” TV ad that seems calculated to appeal to this demographic.

As Modica detailed, GM executives gave varying and conflicting reasons for the sales drop. But GM North America President Mark Reuss candidly acknowledged to Business Week:

“We … know that the government ownership influence is highest among truck buyers,” Reuss says. “Being owned by the government is problematic for now.”

About 30% of those surveyed either were currently or recently in the market for a truck. Ominously for GM, the percentages of those who said their buying decision would be influenced by whether the company received financial assistance from the government were higher than those not in the market.

The survey was conducted on  October 3 by American Market Trends.


From The New Republic:

Take Texas, a famously gerrymandered state. If you want to create competitive districts, you don’t have many great options. Of the state’s 254 counties, 244 were won by either Obama or Romney by at least 10 points. That’s not how it used to be: Back in 1996, 92 counties were within 10 points. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these non-competitive counties tend to be extremely Republican. A whopping 176 of Texas’ 254 counties voted for Romney by more than a 40 point margin (at least 70-30). 81 of those counties voted for Romney by at least 60 points (ie 80-20). So, even a fair map would create plenty of incredibly red, safe, ultraconservative districts. 


Jeff Hillery starts 10/17 in the Texas secretary of state’s office as Deputy Communications Director after serving as Communications Director for State Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston).

Prior to relocating to Austin last year, Hillery was executive producer of the Fox News Channel’s talk radio division in New York City for six years. He spent 15 years in Dallas as a radio news anchor, news director and news/talk program director. In addition, he programmed successful talk stations in Denver, California and Philadelphia.

Congrats Jeff!

– AAS editorial board urges (behind paywall) transparency in the Texas tax code.
– The Chron’s Dug Begley 
reports (behind paywall) on lawmakers searching for “energy road repair solutions.” 

2013 / 2014 / 2016:
– Yahoo News’ Liz Goodwin reports on the effort of pro life activists working against State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) is her bid for Governor.
– DMN’s Bob Garrett 
reports that Democrats are pressuring gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Greg Abbott to “repudiate” a recent push to end in-state tuition for illegal aliens.
– Gilbert Garcia’s SAEN column 
focuses on (behind paywall) the race for endorsements in the crowded primary for the State Senate seat held by Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels).

Other stories of interest:
– U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) pens a Chron op ed describing the positive benefit for Texans from the Affordable Care Act.
– The Chron’s Allan Turner 
reports (behind paywall) on the changes coming to the San Jacinto Museum of History.

Lighter clicks:
– Mascots rarely suffer the same injuries the athletes do.
– Silly and childish, but still funny.
– We told you to keep your eye on Andrew Wiggins.
– $100 million for this?
– 150,000 to attend Virginia Tech-Tennessee game at Bristol Motor Speedway next year?
– Art Briles says he can’t see himself anywhere other than Baylor.
– ESPN on the effort of Texas A&M to expand its athletic brand.

Your Daily Source of Inspiration:
– Today’s issue of restoring your faith in humanity
Example 1.
Example 2.


WASH EXAMINER: Ted Cruz poll shows GOP gained in fight over Obamacare despite shutdown (10/10/13 10:42am)

YAHOO NEWS: Anti-abortion activists mobilize against Wendy Davis in Texas (10/10/13 10:41am)

DMN: Rawlings tells Dallas City Council investigation into Uber ordinance won’t be ready until October 23 (10/10/13 10:40am)

DMN: Court official says US Airways, American Airlines shouldn’t get names of people interviewed by DOJ (10/10/13 10:39am)

DMN: Democrat urges Abbott to repudiate push to end immigrant tuition break (10/10/13 10:36am)

DMN: The Texas power plant conundrum deepens (10/10/13 10:35am)

DMN: GOP fears Obamacare benefits will make it impossible to reverse law (10/10/13 10:35am)

DMN: OSHA fines West Fertilizer for handling, storage of chemicals (10/10/13 10:26am)

CHRON ($): Lawmakers look for energy road repair solutions (10/10/13 10:22am)

CHRON ($): Perry pushes water proposition as economic development issue (10/10/13 10:21am)

CHRON ($): Battlefield history moving next door (10/10/13 10:20am)

CHRON ($): Grier seeking delay in vote on tax hike (10/10/13 10:19am)

CHRON ($): Cornyn optimistic about end to shutdown (10/10/13 10:19am)

CHRON: Kevin Brady praises Yellen as Fed Chief nominee (10/10/13 10:15am)

CHRON: DNC targets Sen. Cruz over shutdown (10/10/13 10:15am)

CHRON: RNC launches outreach efforts for Hispanic voters in Texas (10/10/13 10:14am)

CHRON: Government shutdown shutters outdoors options (10/10/13 10:13am)

KTRK ABC HOUSTON: Texas AG cracks down on unlicensed assisted living homes across Houston area (10/10/13 10:12am)

SAEN ($): S.A. tries to raise its profile at Toyota (10/10/13 10:09am)

SAEN ($): Guard, Reserve troops have been left hanging (10/10/13 10:09am)

SAEN ($): With 3 businesses to bankroll it, Sandy Oaks is closer to cityhood (10/10/13 10:06am)

SAEN: Appeals court hears Bexar open records case (10/10/13 8:25am)

SAEN: Governor Perry to Congress: ‘Sit down with the president and go to work’ (10/10/13 8:25am)

AAS ($): I-35 work means tough trek to OU game (10/10/13 8:09am)

AAS ($): A&M planning water, engineering deal with Israel (10/10/13 8:09am)

AAS ($): At water event, Perry cites poll slamming Congress (10/10/13 8:05am)

TT: Texas Drops Two Spots in National Business Tax Ranking (10/10/13 6:49am)

DES MOINES REGISTER: Grover Norquist: Only 3 presidential candidates passed the ‘laugh test’ (10/10/13 6:48am)

POLITIFACT ($): Six countries, not four, allow abortions after 20 weeks (10/10/13 6:47am)

KVUE ABC AUSTIN: Perry: Voters must make state water bank a reality (10/10/13 6:42am)

NPR: Could A Democrat Become Governor In Texas? (10/10/13 6:40am)

POLITICO: SCO: A West Texas farm bill tale (10/10/13 6:37am)

TT: Abbott teams with RNC to reach Hispanic voters (10/10/13 6:36am)

TT: TxDOT may get extra money for damaged roads (10/10/13 6:35am)

TT: Scientists: Fracking Study Results Obscured by Politics (10/10/13 6:34am)

KTBC FOX AUSTIN: Hispanics & the GOP (10/9/13 10:26pm)

DMN: Grover Norquist predicts Rick Perry among GOP pres contenders (10/9/13 9:17pm)

POLITICO: Ted Cruz: Shutdown hit family trip (10/9/13 9:17pm)

NATIONAL JOURNAL: Janet Yellen, Meet Ted Cruz (10/9/13 9:16pm)

WASH TIMES: Grover Norquist: Sen. Ted Cruz owes GOP an apology (10/9/13 9:16pm)

VIDEO: U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Jim Pethokoukis on CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report” (10/9/13 9:12pm)


BURKA BLOG: Data from 2006 Comptroller Study (10/10/13 10:42am)

BURKA BLOG: Yahoo! News on Wendy Davis (10/10/13 10:40am)

FWST ($): Look at public art dollars with a critic’s eye (10/10/13 10:25am)

FWST ($): From screwball territory: Don’t elect U.S. Senators (10/10/13 10:24am)

CHRON: Stephen Costello for At-large Council Position 1 (10/10/13 10:16am)

CHRON: Brenda Stardig for District A (10/10/13 10:16am)

SAEN: Still plenty of time to fix ACA glitches (10/10/13 9:43am)

SAEN: Enough already with the shutdown (10/10/13 8:26am)

AAS ($): Transparency would help restore fairness to the state tax system (10/10/13 8:24am)

BURKA BLOG: Dan Patrick on the Fox News formula for success (10/10/13 6:43am)

BLOGS (from the left)

FORWARD PROGRESSIVES: Battleground Texas: How Rick Perry Could Be Their Last Republican Governor (10/10/13 8:16am)

SLATE: Wait, I Thought We Were Fighting Over Obamacare? (10/10/13 8:15am)

BFL: Can the GOP court Hispanics? (10/9/13 10:27pm)

BLOGS (from the right)

PJ TATLER: Bum Steer: Wendy Davis Featured Ranchers in Her First Ad, but Voted Against Protecting Ranchers from Cattle Thieves (10/10/13 6:41am)

TAMMY BRUCE: Public Podcast: Greg Abbott, Texas AG & Candidate For Governor (10/10/13 6:41am)

OFFICE OF GOV. PERRY: Gov. Perry Visits Lake Travis to Urge Support of Prop. 6 (10/10/13 6:40am)

BATTLESWARM BLOG: Texas vs. California Update for October 8, 2013 (10/10/13 6:39am)

Author: Must Read Texas

Matt Mackowiak (@MattMackowiak) & Jason Stanford @MustReadTexas