Must Read Texas – October 21, 2013

Early Voting Starts Today for Nov. Election, with Voter ID in Place;
$50 Million Gift Brings Naming Rights for UT College of Communication
Mackowiak & Stanford on Cornyn’s Reelection
Good morning from Austin.
Here’s the brief:


AP reports:

Voters have a chance to cast ballots early for the Nov. 5 election involving nine proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution.

Early voting opened Monday and runs through Nov. 1. One proposal would use $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day fund to finance major water infrastructure projects.

Secretary of State John Steen says Texans can cast ballots at any early voting location in the same county as their registration. It’s also the first statewide election with photo identification requirements for in-person voting, with seven forms of ID accepted. Common forms include a Texas driver’s license, a U.S. military identification card or a passport.

Voters in state House District 50 will choose a replacement for Democrat Mark Strama of Austin, who resigned in July to join Google Inc.


TT’s Reeve Hamilton reports on Moody Foundation’s $50 Million Gift to UT College of Communications.


MRT co-founder Jason Stanford and I have opposing columns in today’s AAS.

Here’s my column (behind paywall):

Cornyn a solid conservative pragmatist
By Matt Mackowiak
Monday, Oct. 20, 2013
Austin American-Statesman

It’s sometimes easy to forget that politics is a science — which is why they call it political science.

Having spent a decade in national and state politics, I do know one thing.

Incumbents who are truly vulnerable always have credible challengers.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, does not have a credible challenger — on either side of the aisle — with about six weeks before the filing deadline.

Ergo propter hoc.

In the current political environment, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is all the rage. The junior senator from Texas wins national attention with nearly every utterance. He marshals the power of the grassroots and talk radio through a savvy and aggressive press operation and clever use of social media. He has changed politics.

Were Cruz not in the U.S. Senate, Cornyn would be Texas’ conservative standard-bearer at the national level.

I worked in the U.S. Senate from 2005-2009. There is no doubt that Cornyn is a conservative. He may not be completely pure, but he is about as close as you can get without achieving the ideal.

National Journal did a nonpartisan review of Senate voting records over the past two years (2011-2012) and found that Sen. Cornyn had the second most conservative voting record in the entire U.S. Senate.

Since then, he has voted differently than Cruz only on a very small number of occasions, primarily on procedural votes. I am convinced that much of what some of my friends on the right have criticized him for is simply stylistic.

It is useful to examine the backgrounds of both Cornyn and Cruz. The past is an excellent predictor of the future.

Ted Cruz is a constitutional lawyer and champion debater. He’s made a career out of making an argument.

John Cornyn is a judge. He has a judicial temperament. He is thoughtful, measured, not given to hyperbole or overstatement. He may not set the grassroots on fire like Cruz does, but he is solid, reliable and proven.

The pairing of Cruz and Cornyn serves Texas well.

Having two U.S. senators who are carbon copies of each other would be redundant.

The saying,”‘if two of us agree 100 percent of the time, one of us is unnecessary” comes to mind.

At present, Cruz appears to be more focused on national politics and playing the outside game. This is not a criticism. It is the manner in which he believes he can best follow-through on his campaign promises and serve the Texans who elected him.

Conversely, Cornyn has earned the respect of his colleagues by effectively working with them over a long period of time. He served in one of the toughest and most thankless roles in the U.S. Senate — chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee — for four years, where he was responsible for recruiting, training, supporting and tirelessly raising money for Republican U.S. Senate candidates across the country. How did he do as chairman? He oversaw a net gain of five Senate seats. This was perhaps fewer than what was possible but a major step forward that now makes taking back the Senate majority possible in 2014. For this work, he was elected Senate minority whip by his colleagues — a significant achievement.

He has performed rigorous oversight on committees. He has been a leader on budget restraint, calling for a Texas-style balanced budget amendment. He has fought to protect Second Amendment rights. He has led the fight against job-killing EPA regulations.

He has been a stalwart ally with the Texas congressional delegation on a range of issues: supporting Texas’ military installations and Veterans Affairs offices, working to strengthen border security and protecting Texas’ sales tax deductibility, just to name a few.

Cornyn doesn’t swing for the fences — he hits singles and doubles, consistently, representing our state with integrity and commitment.

I understand the primal desire of trying to find the next Ted Cruz to scratch an itch. As a strong conservative myself, I don’t agree with Cornyn on everything. There is nothing wrong with that.

But he has ascended to the second highest ranking (minority) position in the U.S. Senate. Not since Lyndon Johnson has Texas had a Senate majority leader — and such a position is now within Cornyn’s grasp.

Make no mistake, Democrats and Battleground Texas know that Cornyn is not vulnerable in the fall election. They will likely recruit a sacrificial lamb with a four-year state Senate term (who risks nothing) or a former elected official with nothing to lose.

I am a conservative Republican. I am a Texan. I am proud to support John Cornyn for reelection, and millions of Texans will, too.

The combination of Ted Cruz and John Cornyn covers the needs and complexity of Texas today. We should keep it that way.

Mackowiak, a Republican political consultant, is president of Potomac Strategy Group LLC. He has been an adviser to two U.S. senators and one governor and has advised federal and state political campaigns across the country 

Here is Jason’s column (behind paywall):

Cornyn will survive the conservative inquisition
By Jason Stanford
Monday, Oct. 20, 2013
Austin American-Statesman

Conservatives are calling John Cornyn a “traitor” who “surrendered” on Obamacare and clamoring for U.S. Rep. Louie “Terror Babies” Gohmert to take him on in a primary. These tea party inquisitors are wasting their time cataloging Cornyn’s sins against the conservative orthodoxy. The truth here is that Cornyn really deserves to be voted out into the street because he plays along with a radicalized Republican Party that no longer resembles the party of Reagan, much less that of Lincoln.

Cornyn’s worst crimes against conservative orthodoxy were to bail out Wall Street banks and — long story short — his reluctance to go along with Ted Cruz’s tactics to shut down the government to kill Obamacare. Cornyn finally voted against the deal to end the government shutdown. Less remembered is his 2009 vote to prop up the housing market with $192 billion in stimulus spending, and if you’re into predetermined outcomes you can find more evidence of impurities, but that’s basically it. The bailout and the you-Cruz-you-lose tactic are essentially the whole case for taking on Cornyn in a Republican primary.

Actually, that’s not true, is it? Look at him. He looks like the very model of a modern major pragmatist, someone who prefers compromise to benefit the greater good than someone who would enjoy building the party up by burning the capitol down. The conservative clerics sense his hidden sanity and distrust how phony his protestations strike their discerning ears. Basically, Cornyn looks like he’s faking it.

Take, for example, Cornyn’s reason for supporting a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage: “It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right.” The logic is unassailable. Your neighbor would be wrong to marry an animal. It would probably bring down the property values, though to be fair, your neighbor could legally consummate that union in Texas, where bestiality is legal.

Cornyn deserves commendation for his courageous stand against zoophilia, but he didn’t need to torture logic to convince the High Church of the Flat Earth that he was a true believer. To a real movement conservative, marriage is between a man and a woman, full stop. Simply put, Cornyn doth protest too much. When he strains to show his loyalty, the flop sweat of his anxiety soaks his collar.

That’s thin evidence for an excommunication, and there’s precious little evidence on the record of his disloyalty. In 2012 BC (before Cruz), the National Journal ranked Cornyn as the second-most conservative senator for voting with conservatives 93.8 percent of the time. The only groups he votes with more often are the Chamber of Commerce, the National Rifle Association, the Christian Coalition, and the National Right to Life Committee — all of which gave him 100 percent ratings.

In fact, you can’t find any room to Cornyn’s right on abortion. He voted to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program for unborn fetuses but against expanding health care coverage for children who were actually born. He voted to ban federal family planning grants to Planned Parenthood and against reducing teen pregnancy by funding birth control and education. He even thinks employers should be allowed to decide whether their employees get their contraceptives covered by insurance.

Therein lies the conundrum that is Cornyn. He speaks like a man smart enough to realize that birth control prevents unplanned pregnancies, which would reduce abortions. Despite all that, he compiled a voting record that makes Kay Bailey Hutchison look like a free-love hippie without ever convincing the right-wing jihad that he shared their mission.

That’s why Cornyn is running scared even though he only faces token opposition in the primary. His campaign has an ad up touting that he’s “conservative — like you, like Texas,” a quality he demonstrates by shaking the hands of three people but never uttering a word other than “I’m John Cornyn, and I approve this message.”

This ad, like his voting record and his rhetorical excesses, is unlikely to appease the mullahs of his party. Though strangely immune to documented fact, the spirit of cooperation and logic, the tea party can sense the obvious truth that Cornyn is not a fellow traveler. The fact that he tries too hard to curry favor among those with whom he seems to disagree is exactly why Cornyn deserves a challenge not from the right but from the center he abandoned long ago.

Stanford is a Democratic political consultant who blogs at and on Twitter @jasstanford.

– A Judge is hearing a challenge to the state’s abortion law today.

2013 / 2014 / 2016:
– Groups are organizing to “save” the Astrodome before the November election.

Other stories of interest:
– IPI’s Tom Giovanetti makes the case in a Chron op ed against taxpayer funded sports arenas.
– Bud Adams, who moved the Houston Oilers to Tennessee, 
has died.

Lighter clicks:
– How Mike Tyson became Mike Tyson.  In first person.
– The evidence that Greg Schiano is a low life is 
rapidly accumulating.

Today’s Source of Inspiration:
– Teach a (wo)man to fish, for the 21st Century…


AP: Early voting opens today for Nov. 5 Texas election (10/21/13 12:07pm)

AP: Hearing opens new round in Texas abortion battle (10/21/13 12:06pm)

AP: Groups take efforts to save Astrodome to streets (10/21/13 12:05pm)

DMN: Moody Foundation commits $50M to UT-Austin communication college (10/21/13 11:58am)

DMN: Ted Cruz has lots to learn, says US Chamber head Tom Donohue; can’t win by “rushing the net” every time (10/21/13 11:56am)

KXAS NBC DALLAS: Despite Threats, Sen. Cruz Continuing Texas Tour (10/21/13 11:56am)

FWST ($): Texas distilleries tapping into new law that permits in-house drink and bottle sales (10/21/13 11:54am)

CHRON ($): Critical Mass reaching a tipping point (10/21/13 11:52am)

CHRON ($): A&M-Corpus Christi goes to great heights for FAA drone testing site (10/21/13 11:52am)

SAEN ($): Early voting starting Monday for Nov. 5 elections (10/21/13 11:39am)

SAEN ($): Women key for Davis, Abbott in race (10/21/13 11:38am)

AAS ($): $50 million donation to UT a case of serendipity (10/21/13 11:32am)

AAS ($): Failed wind energy project becomes issue in Jonestown elections (10/21/13 11:32am)

WASH MONTHLY: Texas On My Mind (10/21/13 11:26am)

REUTERS: Cruz, McCain, Cordray to headline Reuters Washington Summit (10/21/1311;25am)

WASH POST (The Fix): Chris Christie is the anti-Ted Cruz (10/21/13 10:23am)

TPM: Chamber President: Maybe Ted Cruz Could Sit Down And Shut Up (10/21/13 10:15am)

TT: Dispute Over Scanning Machine May Stall Bridge Opening (10/21/13 10:10am)

TT: UT-Austin Announces Gift to College of Communication (10/21/13 10:09am)


DMN: Nov. 5 election will test Texas’ new voter ID rules (10/21/13 11:59am)

CHRON: Next battle: Immigration reform (10/21/13 11:48am)

BLOGS (from the left)

SLATE: Ted Cruz’s Speech Wasn’t a Filibuster. It Was a Democratic Fundraiser (10/21/13 11:24am)

MOTHER JONES: Hey, Ted Cruz! These Texans Say Obamacare Is Helping Them (10/21/13 10:23am)

TFN: The Week in Quotes (Oct. 13 – 19) (10/21/13 10:07am)

BLOGS (from the right)

OFFICE OF SEN. CORNYN: Cornyn: What’s the Price Tag For Obamacare’s Tech Surge? (10/21/13 11:37am)

EMPOWER TEXANS: Dan Patrick For Lt. Gov. (10/21/13 11:31am)

OFFICE OF SEN. CRUZ: Cruz: President Obama should listen to people who have lost their plans (10/21/13 11:25am)

THE BLAZE: Ted Cruz: ‘Lousy’ Deal That Ended Gov’t Shutdown Amounts to ‘Selling the American People Down the River’ (10/21/13 11:24am)

Author: Must Read Texas

Matt Mackowiak (@MattMackowiak) & Jason Stanford @MustReadTexas