Must Read Texas – January 3, 2014

AP on Democratic Women-Led Statewide Ticket;
Perry Obamacare DMN Op Ed;
DMN on Harold Simmons’ Legacy;
AP: Barbara Bush Remains Hospitalized;
Mackowiak & Stanford on Political New Year’s Resolutions
Good morning from Austin.
Thanks for your patience.

At long last, the Tomlin-Mackowiak wedding weekend is upon us.  I just received word that in honor of theSaturday celebration, banks will be closed in Austin on Sunday.

Here’s the end of 2013, start of 2014 brief:


AP’s Paul Weber reports:
Forget whether Hillary Clinton could win the White House in 2016. Women still have yet to run many statehouses, but in 2014 two Texas Democrats are going for a new kind of history: Winning as an all-female ticket for governor and lieutenant governor.

Woven into one of the nation’s most intriguing gubernatorial races this year is whether Democrat Wendy Davis, whose 11-hour filibuster over abortion restrictions catapulted the state senator to national fame this summer, can not only overcome long odds in a fiercely Republican state but pull off a political first.

If Davis and fellow state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who is running for lieutenant governor, prevail in their March primaries as expected, they’ll form what political experts say is only the fifth time in at least the past 20 years that a party has nominated women for both governor and lieutenant governor.

None of these pairings has ever won — nor have a woman governor and lieutenant governor ever served concurrently. Arizona in 1998 picked five women to the state’s top executive offices, including then-attorney general Janet Napolitano, though the state has no lieutenant governor.

The last all-female governor and lieutenant governor ticket was steamrolled in November by New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie on his easy path to re-election. That pair came away some advice for their Texas cohorts.

“Expect to be marginalized. Just be ready for it,” said New Jersey Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono, who lost to Christie by 22 points.

Not all nominees run as “tickets” in the traditional sense. Texas is among the states that elect a governor and lieutenant governor separately, meaning that Davis and Van de Putte don’t come as a package even though they’ll overlap in message.

That message hasn’t focused on gender. Davis talks about education and weeding out cronyism while trying to forge a broader identity among voters who might only know her from her stand in pink running shoes on the Texas Senate floor for reproductive rights.

But Davis and Van de Putte, who’s Hispanic, can’t escape their obvious contrast to Republicans, whose entire statewide ticket in Texas this year is shaping up to be almost exclusively white and male.

“Diversity in government, I think, is incredibly important,” Davis said. “Bringing a variety of perspectives to the leadership table creates better government.”

Yet Republican can argue they’re doing the better job of putting women in governor’s mansions right now. The GOP has four nationwide to the one held by Democrats. But the party has recently acknowledged it could do better with women voters, including U.S. House Speaker John Boehner saying in December that some members of his caucus could stand to be more “sensitive” at times.

Unlike New Jersey, Davis and Van de Putte aren’t challenging a popular incumbent-turned-potential presidential candidate. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is stepping aside after 14 years and giving Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, the presumptive Republican nominee, the task of preserving two decades of statewide GOP rule.

That relegates Davis and Van de Putte to the status of most female tickets before them: underdogs, despite Texas having a stronger history than many states of electing powerful women leaders.

Former South Carolina GOP chairwoman Karen Floyd, who helmed the state party when Nikki Haley became South Carolina’s first female governor in 2011, hosted a summit in August to brainstorm how Republicans can elect more women.

The problem, she said, isn’t message but getting more women to run.

“The Democratic Party has a better track record. They’ve been doing it longer,” Floyd said. “I think you’ll see more Republican woman offer up. It’ll be a cascading effect.”

The closest two women have come to sweeping a state’s top two offices was 2004 in Missouri, when now-U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, and the party’s female nominee for lieutenant governor narrowly lost.

Female Democratic candidates tend to amplify the gender gap in elections, said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. She said the other recent all-female tickets were a pair of Illinois Democrats in 1994 and a pair of Kentucky Republicans in 1999.

Buono doesn’t believe being a woman was the deciding factor in the New Jersey gubernatorial race, but said they faced misogynistic and belittling remarks in a state where none of its 12 congressional members are women. One GOP county chairman compared Buono choosing Milly Silva, a labor leader who previously never ran for statewide office, as her running mate to picking his secretary.

Van de Putte recalled feeling marginalized in the Texas Senate in June when, as Republicans began stopping Davis’ filibuster, she took the microphone and asked: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?”

Van de Putte, who will face one of the four men vying for the Republican nomination, acknowledged it’s unusual to try winning with two women.

“But, you know, maybe it shouldn’t be,” Van de Putte said. “We just happen to be two gals. That’s the way it ended up.”

Your absolute must clicks:
> Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) had an Obamacare op ed in Wednesday’s DMN.
> The DMN editorial board on Harold Simmons’ legacy of giving to medical research.
> Former First Lady Barbara Bush remains hospitalized.


MRT co-founder Jason Stanford and I share our opposing views on Republican and Democratic resolutions for the New Year in today’s (Monday) Austin American-Statesman.

Here’s Jason’s:

Texas Democrats need to embrace their inner underdog for 2014
By Jason Stanford
December 30, 2013

Here we are, Texas Democrats. We’ve got a rock star candidate, a long-term organizing program and a strain of optimism that seems to have infected donors, insiders and activists alike. But all that means is that we’ve accomplished the equivalent of getting an expensive new treadmill and fancy running shoes for Christmas. The real work of changing our mindset is ahead of us. If Texas Democrats are going to have a happy new year in 2014, we need to resolve to stop campaigning like fake frontrunners and start running like the underdogs we are.

It might be easier to get into that pair of pants that haven’t fit you since George W. Bush’s first term as president than it will be to get Sen. Wendy Davis into the governor’s mansion. But that just means Davis is an underdog. If the favorites always won, Gov. Clayton Williams would have spent four years fighting Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower. Instead, Ann Richards overcame a double-digit deficit — and so did Rick Perry.

Instead of worrying about Davis’ long odds, Texas Democrats need to embrace our underdog status. George Washington? Underdog. King George? Favorite. Gen. Sam Houston? Underdog. Santa Anna? He was, as Texas Monthly’s Jake Silverstein described Greg Abbott, the “prohibitive favorite’s prohibitive favorite.” Vince Young’s Texas Longhorns? Underdogs. Reggie Bush’s Trojans? Favorites. Calling yourself an underdog, as Texas Democrats most assuredly are, isn’t an admission of defeat but a sign of sanity and a promise of glorious victory. People root for the underdog. (See, also: Rocky, Rudy and the Average Joe’s dodge ball team.)

Too often, Texas Democrats eschew the underdog label and embrace their share of the status quo. Our representatives brag about subcommittee assignments in the Legislature. We criticize mismanagement and remain relatively silent on the radical changes Republicans have instituted, such as tuition deregulation. We talk as if we’re about to come back into power after spending a few years as a minority party that has played a constructive role in governance. Instead of storming the castle, we camp outside, convinced we’re about to be allowed back in.

Running like an underdog doesn’t mean the usual rules of engagement don’t exist, just that they might no longer apply. An underdog is free to experiment with unproven methods, flouting the gospel of “That’s not the way things work around here.” Texas Democrats have lost more than 100 statewide races in a row. Nothing works around here.

Running like an underdog allows us to take advantage of the opportunities that Texas Republicans pile at our feet. In other states, they call these “Todd Akin moments.” In Texas, we call them “Tuesday.” Republicans are running so far to the right in several statewide primaries that the winners might end up in the Gulf of Mexico. An underdog wouldn’t care that not a single insider thinks Democrats are competitive in these elections. An underdog would wake voters up to the fact that the Texas Republican Party has come to represent some of the finest political thinking of the 19th century.

And running as an underdog might give us the courage we need to talk to voters unaccustomed to the virtues of casting donkey ballots — i.e., white voters. Yes, they overwhelmingly voted for Mitt Romney, but they also will comprise 65 percent of our electorate in 2014 and don’t like underfunded schools, unpaved state roads or business-as-usual corruption in state government any more than Democrats do.

To be sure, getting Republicans and independents who believe in the spherical nature of our planet to vote for Democrats requires careful planning and judicious tactics. We won’t win statewide elections by shouting louder, campaigning everywhere, or worshipping at the church of “I’m right and you’re wrong.” But no one ever won a revolution on a conference call, and an opinion poll is no substitute for daring and conviction.

New Year’s resolutions are best when they are specific and achievable. To resolve to embrace our underdog role is admittedly vague, but it is certainly doable. To have a happy new year, Texas Democrats face long odds and determined foes, but it will be a lot easier — if not more fun and interesting — to embrace our underdog status and campaign like we’ve got nothing to lose, because in truth, we don’t.

Here’s mine:

GOP New Year’s resolution: Sell positive agenda for a wave election
By Matt Mackowiak
December 30, 2013

Can 2014 be like 2010 and 1994?In a word, yes, the 2014 midterm election can be a wave year, sweeping in dozens of new Republican members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, taking down unsuspecting incumbent Democrats.

But we must first acknowledge that the Republican resurgence is, more than anything else, the result of Democratic incompetence.

On its current trajectory, the federal health care law, known as Obamacare, is ruining President Obama’s second term and will soil his legacy. Premiums and deductibles are rising. The administration, on what seems like a daily basis, lawlessly issues more delays. More than five million have lost their insurance, the very thing that President Obama, (by saying “… if you like your plan, you can keep your plan …”), repeatedly promised would not happen. Uninsured Americans are having difficulty enrolling or have given up due to the disastrous rollout. Many health care experts do not believe the program will have the requisite number of healthy, young people enroll to make the math work. Ultimately, the program will implode.

Republicans should let this happen. The mainstream media is now holding the Obama administration accountable for its broken promises. Republican predictions of Obamacare’s problems now appear prescient.

Obamacare likely will cause the House to remain in Republican hands and may even turn the U.S. Senate into a Republican majority. The final two years of President Obama’s second term will be markedly different, as he will then have to deal with a Republican Congress from a weakened position, as President Clinton did in 1995.

I subscribe to the dictum that Sun Tzu wrote in “The Art of War” more than 2,200 years ago: “When your enemy is in the process of destroying himself, stay out of the way.”

But staying out of the way is not enough.

As a resolution for the New Year, Republicans should work to present a clear, national agenda that demonstrates their positive vision for the country.

When you are in the minority, without the White House, it can be hard to get your message out.

For example, many Americans are unaware that in 2013 the Republican-led House passed 168 bills that were stuck in the Democrat-led Senate.

Unfortunately, the Senate majority, in breaking with 200 years of tradition, is refusing to take up and amend House-passed legislation, to protect its own vulnerable members from taking tough votes.

My hope is that the Republican Party, made up of both conservatives and more moderate establishment members, can unite in early 2014 with a three-point, simple, powerful positive agenda to push in the New Year: school choice, domestic energy growth and a market-based, private sector health care alternative.

Let’s take them individually:

The hyperventilating arguments made against school choice are ludicrous. Competition in the private sector is a good thing. The sad fact that we do not have it in public education is why we are failing to innovate as other countries are better educating their younger populations. Education should not be an economic or geographic question. Allowing parents to choose which public school their child attends would revolutionize our public education system and anyone who blocks it is engaging in parochial, selfish, bureaucratic thinking. These reforms have worked in places like Washington, D.C. and in Louisiana and the GOP should fully embrace them nationally.

An energy boom is occurring across the United States today and the shame is that it could be so much bigger. Hydraulic fracture, a process known as fracking, has turned the energy industry upside down, making legacy fields economically viable, unlocking huge amounts of natural gas, and creating massive economic development in new areas in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Texas, North Dakota and many other states. Out on an active shale play, new hotels are being built in three months, and employees can start out making $70,000 annually. Families are becoming overnight millionaires. The shame is that all this development is happening almost exclusively on state and private lands, not on vast federal lands. The Obama administration is needlessly blocking development on federal lands, shackling our economy in the process.

Obamacare may be failing before our very eyes, but the GOP needs to unite behind one approach as an alternative. We know this can include small business health plans, tort reform, portability, equalizing the tax treatment of health care, and other reforms. Several viable bills exist in the U.S. House, authored by members who are doctors.

The GOP can continue to let its “enemy” destroy itself, or they can unite and present a clear agenda that can become a mandate.

I hope they seize the moment.

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– Questions raised about the Texas Finance Commission.
– The Straus era began five years ago, yesterday.

2013 / 2014 / 2016:
– NYT / TT’s John Reynolds reports on the dearth of campaign staff in Republicans races in Texas, with a photo of Corbin Casteel’s backyard view.
– Chron’s Mike Morris reports on the inaugural address of Houston Mayor Annise Parker.
– SAEN / Chron’s Peggy Fikac and Chris Quinn ask some non-political questions of the two likely gubernatorial nominees.
– KVUE ABC Austin reports on U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) whirlwind 2013, and possible future, with comment from Stanford and yours truly.

Other stories of interest:
– Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will present his new memoir at Texas A&M University onJanuary 21.

Lighter clicks:
– Now you can buy beer at SMU basketball games. (I love Methodists!)
– Ladies and Gentlemen: Your 2014 Winter Olympics 
U.S. Hockey team.
– Two starting NFL quarterbacks 
from the same Austin high school will face off this weekend in the playoffs.
– Texas A&M WR Mike Evans 
declares for NFL draft. (Johnny Football not far behind?)

Your Daily Source of Inspiration:
– The most spectacular fireworks display of 2013 was in Dubai.
– Overwhelming compassion and generosity.


AP: Wendy Davis, Leticia Van De Putte Aim To Make History In 2014 (1/3/14 8:10am)

AP: Barbara Bush remains hospitalized (1/3/14 8:10am)

AP: Popular Texas mayor leaves job to follow his heart (1/3/14 8:09am)

HUFF POST: In Texas, Toll Collection Outsourced To Payday Lender (1/3/14 8:09am)

DMN: Ted Cruz not writing a book (yet), calls Rick Perry “terrific governor” (1/3/14 8:04am)

DMN: Wendy Davis calls on payday lender to leave state post (1/3/14 8:03am)

DMN: Carona challenger airs attack ad during Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (1/3/14 8:02am)

DMN: Steve Stockman’s acceptance of bitcoins moves debate over online currency to politics (1/3/14 7:59am)

DMN: Greg Abbott goes to bat for campaign contributor targeted by Wendy Davis as anti-consumer (1/3/14 7:58am)

FWST ($): Several deaths linked to swine flu in Texas (1/3/14 7:48am)

FWST ($): American employees endorse new flag design for aircraft tail (1/3/14 7:47am)

CHRON ($): In final inaugural address, Parker promises busy last term (1/3/14 7:45am)

CHRON ($): Oil train crash spurs alert (1/3/14 7:44am)

CHRON: HB2 final rules: a quick breakdown (1/13/14 7:38am)

SAEN ($): Edwards Aquifer hits a low milestone (1/3/14 7:32am)

SAEN ($): San Antonio road projects set to receive $800 million (1/3/14 7:32am)

SAEN: Toll lanes in San Antonio could be coming soon (1/3/14 7:28am)

AAS ($): Texas Supreme Court weighs polluter’s toll on ranch’s value (1/3/14 7:25am)

AAS ($): Statesman fights subpoena from Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (1/3/14 7:22am)

KXAN NBC AUSTIN: Those helped by Andrea Sloan remember her (1/3/14 7:15am)

KXAN NBC AUSTIN: Firearm accessories manufacturer relocates to Texas (1/3/14 7:14am)

AUSTIN BUSINESS JOURNAL: Future of Texas Enterprise Fund uncertain after Perry steps down, report says (1/3/14 7:12am)

TT: Farms Aren’t Going Away, but a Lot of Little Ones Are (1/3/14 6:53am)

KVUE ABC AUSTIN: 2013 IN POLITICS: Texas freshman puts DC on ‘Cruz Control’ (1/2/14 7:53pm)

NYT / TT: Crowded Field Has Candidates Seeking Best Help of Who’s Left (1/2/14 7:01pm)

NYT: Houston and Its Strip Clubs Call a Truce (1/2/14 7pm)

ELP TIMES: Texas finance panel’s actions attacked (1/1/14 11:21pm)

FOX NEWS: Cruz closes high-profile year by standing tall for efforts to gut ObamaCare (1/1/14 7:07pm)

TT / KUT: New State Law Could Mean Higher Prices for Mixed Drinks (1/1/14 7:04pm)

POLITICO: States in play: 2014’s top governor races (1/1/14 7:01pm)

TT: As Year Begins, Texas Governor’s Race Will Heat Up (1/1/14 7pm)

KTBC FOX AUSTIN: Turning Texas purple (1/1/14 11:54am)

AP: Perry to headline Kentucky GOP event (12/31/13 3:57pm)

KTBC FOX AUSTIN: Benghazi attacks report (12/31/13 7:14am)


DMN: Harold Simmons’ legacy in medical research (1/3/14 8:07am)

DMN: DART should use facts, not gut instinct (1/3/14 8:06am)

DMN: Dwindling credibility for Judge Carlos Cortez (1/3/1 8:05am)

DMN: Voter ID laws remain troublesome (1/3/14 8:05am)

FWST ($): News will be happening fast this year (1/3/14 7:52am)

FWST ($): TEX Rail safety must be top concern (1/3/14 7:51am)

FWST ($): Texas’ continued rapid growth can bring opportunities and problems (1/3/14 7:50am)

FWST ($): Selection of new county elections administrator should be void of politics (1/3/14 7:50am)

CHRON: The right target: More degrees in the Houston region (1/3/14 7:41am)

CHRON: Keep schools safe (1/3/14 7:40am)

SAEN: Southside paying twice for top job (1/3/14 7:31am)

SAEN: Sex trade finding a Texas home (1/3/14 7:31am)

SAEN: Restore U.S. dues to UNESCO (1/3/14 7:30am)

SAEN: South San needs TEA intervention (1/3/14 7:30am)

AAS ($): Austin’s new bike sharing project can help with New Year’s resolutions (1/3/14 7:27am)

AAS ($): Drone testing center is good news for Texas (1/3/14 7:26am)

AAS ($): State fire marshal’s efforts commendable (1/3/14 7:26am)


KENNEDY ($): Republican gains at risk with party’s immigration divide (1/3/14 8:26am)

GOV. PERRY: You can’t dress up the failures of Obamacare (1/3/14 8:07am)

IRELAND ($): Texas oil and natural gas keep on giving (1/3/14 7:57am)

HARLOW ($): Cattleman teaches a lesson by making life-and-death decision (1/3/14 7:55am)

CLELAND ($): Will technology favor liberty or the state? (1/3/14 7:53am)

KERN ($): A better society without death penalty (1/3/14 7:52am)

DAWSON ($): Hurricane research is critical (1/3/14 7:46am)

KATZ & PARILLA: NAFTA helps poise Houston to grow trade (1/3/14 7:41am)

KING: Police pension crunch may come sooner than we think (1/3/14 7:40am)

FALKENBERG ($): Time to dump payday loan exec as watchdog (1/3/14 7:39am)

KRAMER ($): Democrats overreach with ACA (1/3/14 7:35am)

B. WILSON ($): Conflicting narratives drive immigration debate (1/3/14 7:34am)

G. GARCIA ($): Why Tony Parker should have known better (1/3/14 7:33am)

BRODESKY: Questions remain in Parker incident (1/3/14 7:29am)

HERMAN ($): How one rep appears twice in Texas House photo (1/3/14 7:24am)

RAMSEY: Changing the Characters, but Not Their Parts (1/3/14 6:54am)

BOZELL: Remembering Harold Simmons (1/1/14 7pm)

MACKOWIAK ($): GOP New Year’s resolution: Sell positive agenda for a wave election (12/31/13 11:35am)

BLOGS (from the left)

BOR: Paying Your Way: Finances of Texas Prisoners (1/3/14 8:32am)

BLOGS (from the right)

ABBOTT CAMPAIGN: Voter Fraud in RGV (1/3/14 7:14am)

BIG JOLLY POLITICS: Wendy Davis voted FOR William J. White (1/3/14 7:13am)

EXAMINER: MSNBC falsely claims Ted Cruz ‘big on the birther movement’ (12/31/13 5:50pm)

NEWSBUSTERS: Wendy Davis and Ted Cruz Articles Show Dramatic ‘Texan of the Year’ Tilt of Dallas Newspaper (12/31/13 5:49pm)

NEWSBUSTERS: MSNBC’s Williams Rants Ted Cruz ‘Biggest Fraud,’ Pouts ‘He Wasn’t Supposed to Be Elected’ (12/31/13 5:48pm)


Author: Must Read Texas

Matt Mackowiak (@MattMackowiak) & Jason Stanford @MustReadTexas