September 21, 2018      12:28 PM

People on the Move

A new senator, a major retirement, new hires at lobby shops, and more

Well, the first person on the move this week has to be Senator elect Pete Flores, a mild-mannered conservative retired game warden who made national headlines by winning his seat in South Texas’ special election Tuesday. Welcome to the Texas Legislature, sir. It’s the best show in town and your chance to make a difference for real people.

One observer quipped “With 21 Republican senators, can the Texas Senate go back to the two-thirds rule now? Kidding, of course.” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick pushed in all his chips on a longshot and won big. Now, he’s got as many as three GOP seats to defend in the fall. As Democrats not named Pete Gallego or Christian Archer will tell you, it’s not as if the minority party put up much of a fight in Senate District 19. Apparently “Vote for Pete” wasn’t the optimal message in this race.

Meantime, some big career news to pass along this week in the lobby. The Quorum Report audience loves nothing better than to gossip about each other, so feel free to send along career news about you or yourself anytime to ksbraddock@gmail.com and put POTM in the subject line. Thanks for all your submissions this week.

Here’s Texas’ weekly edition of People on the Move:

By Scott Braddock

September 21, 2018      12:23 PM

Video: Justin Nelson ad focuses on Paxton stealing a pen at the courthouse where he was indicted

Justin Nelson, he won't steal your pen, the ad says

September 21, 2018      7:47 AM

Cook Political moves Texas Senate race to toss-up column

The Cook Political Report updated its rating for Texas's Senate race on Friday from leans Republican to toss-up amid new polls showing Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) in a tight race with Sen. Ted Cruz (R).

Via The Hill:

Cook's authors did not immediately give any explanation for the ratings change, but the move follows a series of polls showing Cruz with at most a single-digit lead over his insurgent opponent, who has outraised Cruz by millions since the year began.

September 20, 2018      5:30 PM

Updated: Under pressure, TRS board holds the line on TRS-Care Benefits

No changes made to premiums, benefits

The Teacher Retirement System has taken no action to increase healthcare premiums for retired teachers this morning, heeding the call of Senate leadership and possibly putting the legislature on the hook for $238 million.

By Kimberly Reeves

September 20, 2018      5:15 PM

City of Houston says TCEQ ignores data in draft plan for distribution of Volkswagen settlement

Meantime in San Antonio, health officials say “There is a region-wide urgency and commitment to meet the standard in less than three years and avoid more severe regulations.”

Houston leaders are crying foul as Texas’ draft plan to distribute a $209 million settlement with Volkswagen sends almost three times as much money to San Antonio as it does to the Bayou City.

Volkswagen was directed to create a $2.9 billion environmental mitigation trust fund as part of its restitution to reduce diesel emissions. The car manufacturer also set aside $10 billion to retrofit existing Volkswagen vehicles and $2 billion to create a national zero emission vehicle investment plan.

By Kimberly Reeves

September 19, 2018      5:02 PM

Lawmakers urge HHSC to move on contracting reforms, promise new action on agency contracts in 86th

Chair Nelson says contracting problems don’t appear to have anything to do with the size of the agency or where the division is on an organizational chart, instead it’s a failure to elevate the problems “to a top level at which the legislature believes it should be”

Lawmakers are urging the Health and Human Service Commission to aggressively move forward on contracting changes and not wait on what is expected to be a third round of legislation intended to address contracting problems at multiple state agencies.

By Kimberly Reeves

September 19, 2018      5:00 PM

Press Releases: SD 19 reactions, wrecking ball, endorsements, and silence from Sid Miller

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

September 18, 2018      9:10 PM

Gallego concedes to Flores in SD 19 special runoff

Looks like the final result will be about 53 to 47

September 18, 2018      5:01 PM

Updated: Quinnipiac poll of likely voters finds Cruz with a 9 point lead over O'Rourke

Only 7 percent are undecided; also, Trump approval is split at 49-49 in Texas

The complete polling memo is available to subscribers at the end of this story – SB

In the first of Quinnipiac’s polls of likely voters in Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz leads Rep. Beto O’Rourke by 9 points, 54 to 45 percent. In the poll, a whopping 93 percent of likely voters have already made up their minds about how they’ll vote in the race.

“Congressman O’Rourke may be drawing big crowds and media attention, but Texas likely voters like Sen. Cruz better,” said Peter A Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

September 18, 2018      5:00 PM

Political nonprofits must name many of their donors after SCOTUS declines to intervene

FEC Chairwoman Hunter said the names of certain contributors who give money to nonprofit groups to use in political campaigns beginning Wednesday will have to be publicly reported

Via the Washington Post:

Advocacy groups pouring money into independent campaigns to impact this fall’s midterm races must disclose many of their political donors beginning this week after the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to intervene in a long-running case.

....With less than 50 days before this fall’s congressional elections, the ruling has far-reaching consequences that could curtail the ability of major political players to raise money and force the disclosure of some of the country’s wealthiest donors.

September 18, 2018      11:25 AM

TxBIZ PAC unveils endorsements for the fall, including two Democrats

John Turner, the Democrat running for Rep. Villalba’s seat, and Julie Johnson, who faces Matt Rinaldi, both have business backing; also TAB took a pass on endorsing in Burton's and Huffines' races

The full endorsement list is here.

September 18, 2018      11:22 AM

Democrat John Turner up on TV in Dallas County

Democrat running against Lisa Luby Ryan for the Villalba seat says there's too much extremism in politics

September 17, 2018      3:13 PM

Lee Chapman--Long time Ft. Worth auto dealer lobbyist passed away

Details to follow, meantime check out video of Lee from 2016 passed along by Bud Kennedy this afternoon

September 17, 2018      2:31 PM

ICYMI: Cruz camp confirms fundraising mailers disguised as legal summonses

Via Newsweek:

Ted Cruz’s Texas senatorial campaign has sent hundreds of thousands of mailers seeking donations that are meant to look like official county summons, a high-ranking campaign official confirmed to Newsweek.

The brown envelopes read “SUMMONS ENCLOSED-OPEN IMMEDIATELY” in large black letters, and have a return address of “official county summons.”

While the letter inside the envelope was a donation form for the Cruz campaign, there was some fear that some voters might be confused by the mailer and believe that they were required by law to pay a fee.

One former staffer for the Ben Carson presidential campaign said it was reminiscent of when Cruz’s campaign notified Iowa voters that Carson had dropped out of the race when, in fact, he had not.

September 17, 2018      10:37 AM

Video: Colin Allred up on TV

Democrat running against Rep. Sessions tells the story of his life

September 14, 2018      5:30 PM

People on the Move

Retirements, promotions, changes of career venue, and Ramiro Canales is back

Well, the cross currents in these campaigns are starting to get interesting.

Just today, the Democrat running against Sen. Konni Burton, Beverly Powell, is slamming the incumbent for opposing GOP Gov. Greg Abbott’s pre-k initiative back in 2015. Meanwhile the Texas Democratic Party is embracing the words of Republican Jerry Patterson – you know, the godfather of the modern gun rights movement in Texas – after he endorsed Miguel Suazo, the Democrat running against GOP Land Commissioner George P. Bush.

And we’re just starting the sprint to November.

While the candidates really start to duke it out on the campaign trail, political professionals are movin’ and shakin’ back in Austin. Seems like a lot of folks have been leaving the governor’s policy shop as of late. Also, some notices of retirements have come across my desk plus those of you asking what Ramiro Canales is going to do now have your answer.

As always, if there’s career news to share about yourself or a colleague, send it my way at ksbraddock@gmail.com and put POTM in the subject line.

Here’s Texas’ weekly roundup of People on the Move:

By Scott Braddock

September 14, 2018      5:14 PM

Empower Texans and other politically active nonprofits press budget writers to deny the TEC money for outside lawyers

Ethics Commission officials mum after preliminary budget hearing where “conservative” nonprofits framed the agency as a group of regulators gone wild and recommended that lawmakers strip funding

Ahead of the upcoming legislative session, politically active nonprofits warring with the Texas Ethics Commission are urging budget writers to reject the agency’s latest request for money to pay outside lawyers for legal defense in Empower Texans cases.

By David Saleh Rauf

September 14, 2018      5:12 PM

Cruz and O'Rourke agree to 3 debates in the fall

September 14, 2018      5:07 PM

ICYMI: Jerry Patterson endorses Democrat Miguel Suazo running against George P. Bush

Three other former GOP primary opponents of Bush — Rick Range, Davey Edwards and David Watts — also said they would not vote for Bush in November. Democrat Miguel Suazo said he was honored

September 14, 2018      4:58 PM

DFPS looks for another $410M next session to maintain its forward momentum

Exceptional items would address forecasted growth and reducing caseworker caseloads, cutting down on crisis hotline wait times, strengthening data-based decision-making and create parity among caseworkers

The Department of Family and Protective Services has requested another $410 million above its baseline budget in order to maintain progress to reform the beleaguered agency.

By Kimberly Reeves