Politico on Cruz v. Perry; Abbott Reveals New Policy Proposals;
TFR Endorses Abbott; Tuesday is Last Day to Show Voter ID;
McKenzie: Ritter is my Nominee for Texan of the Year
Good morning from Austin.
Here’s the brief:
POLITICO ON THE COMING PERRY-CRUZ BATTLE
Politico’s Katie Glueck reports:
A Texas tussle could be on the 2016 horizon.
Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry are both angling to run for president. And the prospect of a clash between the two Texas-sized egos who represent different eras of the GOP – and who aren’t openly rivals but haven’t betrayed warm fuzzies for one another, either – has tongues wagging.
“It would be the battle of the titans,” said Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Texas Republican Party. “They are both very popular here. Obviously Ted Cruz is riding a wave of immense popularity, but I think the governor has a lot of residual goodwill.”
Perry spoke in Iowa on Thursday night and has had his eye on another presidential bid since before Cruz got to the Senate. The governor is slated for South Carolina and Iowa again next month. Cruz has been visiting a slew of early states — Iowa last month, South Carolina last week — further stoking speculation.
If the two ultimately take the plunge, their dynamic would highlight just how far to the right the Republican Party has moved over the past year. As staunchly conservative as Perry is, Cruz could make the longtime governor look like an old-guard member of the GOP’s establishment wing, Texas observers say. For activists furious over Obamacare and enthralled with Cruz’s aggressive approach to taking on Democrats and even moderates of his own party, the freshman senator represents the best hope for the next generation of conservatism.
“What we do know is that what was once Rick Perry’s party is now very clearly Ted Cruz’s,” a Texas GOP operative said.
Perry is no moderate. He has moved to defund Planned Parenthood, opposes gay marriage and is a Second Amendment champion. In 2012, the Texas governor was a conservative bomb-thrower in the GOP presidential primary, and he endorsed Newt Gingrich over Mitt Romney after dropping out.
But Perry, who won’t seek reelection next year, has also been in the office for 13 years, making him the longest-serving governor in state history and a dominant figure in the Austin political apparatus. Cruz — elected to the Senate just last year — came to power with the help of an increasingly forceful and conservative grass roots that helped him defeat Perry’s lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, in the primary contest.
“To the hard-core conservative activists that form the base of the party, Cruz is the new hero,” the Republican source continued. “That group will always have fondness for Perry, but Perry has been governor since the final days of the Clinton presidency. Perry may still have a better network of supporters in every little corner of the state, but the passion is with Cruz.”
Jim Henson, an Austin-based pollster and the director of the Texas Politics Project, said the contrast between Cruz and Perry could represent a generational divide.
“It’s not hard to conceive of what Ted Cruz’s line of criticism against Perry would be: ‘This is somebody who is the past, a member of the establishment. I’m the future,’” Henson said.
Perceived distance between the governor and senator was fueled when Perry, speaking overseas, recently dismissed the government shutdown as “political theater” and added, for good measure, that he never even heard Cruz’s name mentioned abroad. Cruz, of course, played a starring role in that drama, prodding his GOP cohorts – successfully, but by many later readings, self-defeatingly – to shutter the federal government in an attempt to debilitate Obamacare.
“No one has come up to me and even said the word ‘Cruz’ — no, not once did I hear that,” Perry said of his time in London and Israel. A spokesman later downplayed the remark, saying the governor thinks Democrats are to blame for the shutdown.
In an Iowa interview with the Dallas Morning News, Perry was asked how he felt about Cruz’s role in the shutdown, and he seized the opportunity to draw a contrast.
“Everybody gets to go out and do their thing,” he said, “That’s his thing. My thing is governing.”
Observers like Henson say that Cruz and Perry wouldn’t be expected to train their fire on each other, at least initially, in a presidential primary. And Perry had gentler words for Cruz on Sunday, saying on ABC’s “This Week” that he “certainly enjoyed the 21 hours of him standing up and pointing out the foibles and problems of Obamacare.”
But they have squabbled before, including during last year’s Senate primary contest.
Perry rarely endorses in competitive GOP primaries, but he went to bat for Dewhurst on the campaign trail, appearing in ads for the candidate and campaigning for him across the state — even though doing so at the state GOP convention earned the governor boos. During the campaign, he questioned Cruz’s experience and blasted outside groups, such as Club for Growth, that bolstered his campaign.
Cruz said he was running against the Texas political establishment, and his victory was portrayed as a loss for Perry. Both sides say fences have mended, though some Texas politicos say it’s common wisdom that the two travel in different political circles.
“They have a very good relationship, a very cordial one,” said Catherine Frazier, Cruz’s spokeswoman, who previously served in that role for Perry, noting that the two have met “several times in person” since the election.
Still, even before the government shutdown, Cruz was the star among the base: A University of Texas-Texas Tribune poll from over the summer found Cruz the presidential primary favorite of a quarter of Texas Republicans, besting Perry by 15 percent. A survey out Thursday from Public Policy Polling showed that for Cruz, that number had jumped to 32 percent, while Perry was down to 3 percent.
“I think Ted Cruz would crush Rick Perry in Republican primaries,” said Mark McKinnon, a former Bush aide. “Cruz cuts right into the very base that Perry would hope to count on. And he does it with more passion, commitment and intellectual rigor.”
Munisteri stressed that Perry is a conservative who has a record of enjoying tea party support. But “it would be hard to out-Cruz Cruz,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean Gov. Perry wouldn’t be popular with the tea party, that [he would] not be perceived as being a friend,” he said. “Just not perceived as being more of a friend to the tea party than Ted Cruz.”
Matt Mackowiak, a GOP strategist with deep Texas ties, noted that historically Perry has done well with the business community.
“Their major support in Texas tends to come from different parts of the party,” Mackowiak said. “Cruz is more of a recent star within the Texas activist community. His support is based much more among grassroots-type folks, tea party leaders…whereas Perry is much more big-business major donors.”
The two Texans have very different job descriptions. Cruz is able to oppose Obama at every turn because of his perch in Washington, while Perry is responsible for the economic development of his state and so spends more time on business issues. Perry’s spokesman, Josh Havens, bristled at the notion that the governor is part of the establishment.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard him mentioned as an establishment Republican,” Havens said. “He’s got a large grassroots following, a very large, I guess what you’d call a tea party following. … Whether you’re talking about Ted Cruz or Rick Perry, you’re talking about Republicans reading from the same book.”
Aside from immigration, on which Perry has taken a more moderate line, the two share many conservative policy positions. But other differences — Washington versus Texas; Cruz’s Harvard-and Princeton- credentials and fluent filibuster versus Perry’s infamous “oops” moment — would surely be highlighted in a match-up.
“Regardless of Sen. Cruz’s lack of integration into the culture in Washington — he is and remains an irritant to Congress and the Washington establishment — the fact of the matter is, he is still a member of Congress,” said one Texas Republican strategist. “It will be very difficult for him to develop any significant policy or legislative accomplishment prior to a presidential campaign. Gov. Perry’s entire career has been in state government.”
Except, of course, for his brief stint on the 2012 presidential campaign trail, which ended disastrously. Several strategists told POLITICO that Perry would likely run a better campaign in 2016, but that many donors would initially look at him skeptically, their view colored by his last go-round on the national stage.
If Cruz and Perry both ran, they would be competing for that Texas donor pool — which is deep — along with early support from big Lone Star names and enthusiasm from the grassroots, Mackowiak said.For political junkies in Texas and elsewhere, a Perry-Cruz showdown would be a sight to behold, said Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune.
“It will be Christmas every day for people who do what we do,” Smith said. “It will be amazing.”
ABBOTT UNVEILS PRIVACY, ETHICS, DNA PROPOSALS
TT’s Aman Batheja reports:
In the most detailed speech since launching his bid for governor earlier this year, Attorney General Greg Abbott laid out a dozen new policy proposals Monday evening, touching on ethics reform, privacy rights, education, guns and Obamacare.
“I’m showing, if you would, a new kind of Republican candidate. One that is very substantive. One that has a lot of policy details,” Abbott said after delivering a 25-minute speech to the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party that drew a standing ovation.
On ethics reform, Abbott said he wanted elected officials to have to disclose “any conflicts they or their family members have with any state agency or any local governmental body,” and to strengthen current laws that block legislators from voting on legislation that could result in a financial benefit for them.
“They’re supposed to be working for you, not their own bank accounts,” Abbott said.
The policy proposals suggested that the Abbott campaign may be preparing to make a campaign issue of conflict-of-interest allegations lobbed by critics of Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis in her 2012 re-election campaign.
Abbott also advocated for ending the long-standing tradition of candidates disclosing large, last-minute contributions after an election.
“I’m proposing that candidates should not be able to spend contributions of $5,000 or more in the final 30 days of a campaign until that contribution is disclosed online,” Abbott said.
The attorney general agreed that some of his ethics proposals are similar to ones that were proposed by lawmakers in this year’s regular legislative session and failed to gain traction.
“I do feel like there’s going to be a new opportunity to make the push to get them passed,” he said after the speech. “For one, because I am going to campaign on the issue and, if elected, I am going to have a mandate to get these issues passed.”
Abbott also proposed changes to state privacy laws. He described his proposals as pushing back against federal and state efforts to turn government “into Big Brother.”
“Government agencies like the NSA, like the IRS, like the EPA, are increasingly using tools to look at our emails, to tap into our phone calls, to look at our financial information or our health records,” Abbott said.
He said he wanted to bar state agencies from selling Texans’ personal information without their consent. Abbott described the practice as routine at agencies including the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and the Texas Department of Health Services.
He also proposed creating “a personal property right for your DNA.”
“Your DNA belongs to you, and no one else has the right to access that information without your consent,” Abbott said. “But the reality is that advances in technology are threatening that privacy right… You should have control over how your information about your DNA is used.”
He next waded into the debate over red light cameras, one which he acknowledged pits those arguing the safety value of the devices against those with privacy concerns.
“I believe it should be up to you, the people, to decide whether red light cameras is right for a community,” Abbott said, explaining that he would push to change state law to allow for voters to push for a ballot initiative to repeal a local red light camera ordinance.
During the speech, Abbott also said he supports barring school districts from hiring lobbyists to lobby the state legislature for funding. He also supports allowing Texans to legally carry guns on college campuses and changing the law to allow Texans to openly carry firearms.
Abbott ended his speech discussing the federal health care reform law.
“I will support legislation that prevents creating state exchanges that try to implement Obamacare,” Abbott said. “I will work to make it illegal to use any state resources to implement that flawed law.”
The speech came two weeks after Abbott’s first policy address of his gubernatorial campaign, which focused on state spending. He said more policy addresses are coming, including ones on education and border security. He gave a preview of his education platform, explaining he wants to “get away from the cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to educating our students” and “drive a stake through the heart of CSCOPE,” referring to the state’s controversial curriculum delivery system.
Abbott also said he has a plan to secure the border.
Your absolute must click stories:
> The Chron reports (behind paywall) that if you voted provisionally, Tuesday is the last day to show your Voter ID and have your vote count.
> DMN columnist William McKenzie nominates retiring State Rep. Allan Ritter (R-Nederland) for Texan of the Year, for his successful efforts to pass water funding legislation.
– SAEN reports (behind paywall) on what comes next now that Prop. 6 has passed.
– AAS reports (behind paywall) UT Regents are seeking an Attorney General opinion on withholding requested documents from the House Committee investigating UT Regent Wallace Hall.
– State Senators John Whtmire (D-Houston) and Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) jointly authored a Chron op ed on indigent defense in Harris County.
2013 / 2014 / 2016:
– U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke (behind paywall) to the Greater Houston Partnership Monday.
Other stories of interest:
– Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was in Austin Monday to swear in two new members of the Texas Supreme Court.
– Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says he has been working on his speech for the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK since January.
– Post Office announces it will deliver Amazon packages on Sundays.
– The bet between Kobe Bryant and Kevin Ware has a winner.
– An interesting interview with NBC Hall of Famer John Stockton.
– Esquire Magazine on why Carlito’s Way is the most underrated gangster movie.
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BLOGS (from the right)