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October 28, 2020      4:52 PM

TLR shores up Republicans in the Texas Legislature with $11 million in spending as Democrats make their final push for a majority

Speaker candidates, and potential candidates, ramp up their giving as well

Democrats are meeting their match now in the most recent campaign finance reports., with Texans for Lawsuit Reform propping up potentially endangered incumbents and candidates in closely watched races that may decide the fate of who leads the Texas House.

Here’s a breakdown:

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By James Russell

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October 28, 2020      3:16 PM

Updated: 8-day reports show flood of money to candidates across competitive Texas House races

GOP incumbents and some of their challengers now in the millionaires club for cash raised; reports start to look more like congressional races

The 8-day reports are in and needless to say that if past legislative election cycles were college football, we have moved up to the NFL when it comes to spending.

Let us know what you’re seeing.

For now, here is our down and dirty breakdown.

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By James Russell

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October 28, 2020      9:09 AM

HEB CEO invests $10 million in his Charles Butt Public Education PAC

Has spent $380K so far in legislative races, it appears from reports

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October 28, 2020      8:13 AM

Harris County Democratic members of the Texas House support Chair Thompson for speaker

"Garnering respect and admiration from both sides of the aisle, we ask our colleagues representing the diverse constituencies of Texas to come together to make what they know is the right choice (and the right side of history) by electing Senfronia Thompson the next speaker of the Texas House," they wrote.

Their letter of support is here.

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October 27, 2020      4:15 PM

NYT: Bloomberg Funds Last-Minute Advertising Blitz for Biden in Texas and Ohio

Mr. Bloomberg was reportedly presented with polling showing the best opportunities to change the electoral map were in Texas and Ohio, where he's kicking in an additional $15 million to support Biden

Via the New York Times:

Michael R. Bloomberg is funding a last-minute spending blitz to bolster former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in Texas and Ohio, directing millions toward television advertising in two red states that have shifted away from President Trump in the general election. A political adviser to Mr. Bloomberg said the billionaire former mayor of New York City would use his super PAC, Independence USA, to air intensive ad campaigns in all television markets in both states. The cost of the two-state campaign is expected to total around $15 million.

The decision by Mr. Bloomberg reflects just how much the electoral landscape appears to have shifted in the final few months of the presidential race, as Mr. Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic has intensified his unpopularity and further alienated crucial voting groups like women and suburbanites.

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October 27, 2020      4:12 PM

Final Faceoff booklet is out with endorsements from various business groups

Public Blueprint's guide includes the newest endorsements from HOMEPAC (Texas Association of Builders), NFIB Texas PAC (National Federation of Independent Business), TAA PAC (Texas Apartment Association), Texas Parent PAC, and TLR PAC (Texans for Lawsuit Reform)

Check it out here.

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October 27, 2020      1:52 PM

Special daily editions of the podcast underway

Each weekday leading up to election day and beyond we’ll have special editions of the show for you with Editor Scott Braddock, Houston Chronicle political writer Jeremy Wallace, and others

Here’s the first of the special editions if you’d like to check it out. Depending on your browser, you may have to right click the link and open in a new tab.

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October 27, 2020      1:47 PM

FWST: One-third of Tarrant County mail-in ballots have a defect, but votes will still count, per officials

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram this afternoon:

About one-third of Tarrant County mail-in ballots have been rejected by scanners because the bar codes are not legible, but the votes will still be counted, election administrator Heider Garcia told county commissioners on Tuesday. The county’s state-approved print shop is not making the bar codes 100% scannable, Garcia said. The county’s election board will have to copy the mail-in ballots into new ballots and scan them, Garcia said. If about 60,000 mail-in ballots get returned, Garcia expects about 20,000 of those will need to be redone by the election board.

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October 26, 2020      4:28 PM

Chairman Trey Martinez Fischer announces for Speaker of the Texas House

Martinez Fischer, who has helped build toward a Democratic majority with more than $1 million in contributions in the last decade, says he respects and has learned much from Chair Thompson as he joins her in the race

Saying he respects Chair Senfronia Thompson and has “learned much from her,” Chairman Trey Martinez Fischer on Monday announced he is joining her in the race to be the next Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

He is filing this afternoon.

“The number one job of the Speaker is to protect the House and its members,” Martinez Fischer said in his announcement. “Members know that I have been a defender of the House rules and wielded them to protect the institution and the people we serve. My vision for the Texas House is an independent body that will work respectfully in a bi-partisan manner with the best minds at the table. That is not negotiable.”

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By Scott Braddock

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October 26, 2020      4:22 PM

Commissioner Bush considers running for Attorney General

The Dallas Morning News reported first that adviser Ash Wright said several campaign donors have asked Bush to consider running in 2022

Full story here by reporters Allie Morris and Lauren McGaughy.

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October 26, 2020      12:51 PM

New York Times/Siena College poll of Texas: Trump leads Biden 47% - 43%

"With Weakness Among Hispanic Voters, Biden Trails in Texas; Large Democratic gains among white suburbanites suggest risks down the ballot for Republicans in congressional and state House races"

From the New York Times writeup:

President Trump maintains a narrow lead in Texas, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll on Monday, as he faces a rebellion in the state’s once overwhelmingly Republican suburbs but survives with support from an unlikely ally, Hispanic voters.

Over all, Mr. Trump leads Joe Biden, 47 percent to 43 percent, among likely voters. The majority of interviews were conducted before the final presidential debate on Thursday. In the Senate race, the Republican incumbent, John Cornyn, holds a larger lead, 48-38, over the Democrat, M.J. Hegar.

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October 26, 2020      12:11 PM

State releases expanded strategic fiscal review for agencies under Sunset

The Legislative Budget Board has posted its first expanded strategic fiscal review, a review now done in tandem with the Sunset Commission process.

Finance Chair Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, passed Senate Bill 68 last session, with a goal of minimizing mission creep in agency expenditures. LBB staff, using programmatic and fiscal data, would look at all activities of an agency and then rank, itemize and review funding levels and sources.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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October 26, 2020      11:17 AM

Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee raised more than $10 Million, with $4.5 million of that raised in the last month

The $4.5 million is from 3,400 donors, more than 80 percent of whom are from Texas. "The average grassroots contribution was 43 dollars," the HDCC said

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October 26, 2020      10:56 AM

UH Hobby School poll: Trump leading by 5 in Texas, Cornyn up by 7

Here’s the poll from the University of Houston Hobby School for Public Affairs.

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October 25, 2020      11:14 AM

HK: In the last Texas House majority shift, the new Speaker was determined by the day after the election

Ms. T positions herself to move quickly if the House flips

Democratic Houston State Representative Senfronia Thompson has been on multiple short lists of Speaker candidates should the Democrats take the House this cycle. But her filing Friday nonetheless startled quite a few in the political community.

It should not have.

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By Harvey Kronberg

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October 23, 2020      7:24 PM

Mrs. Thompson declares for Speaker

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October 23, 2020      12:54 PM

People on the Move

Significant career moves, appointments, staffer moves, awards, a law review and more

DALLAS – Good afternoon from a cold, rainy Metroplex, where there are way more questions than answers when it comes to early voting. As of yesterday, a full 24 percent of the votes already in the bank in Collin County were cast by people who have no voting history at all. Let that sink in as we head into the weekend.

More to come on competitive races across the state in the days ahead. The Financial Times reached out to Quorum Report for our take on what’s happening in Texas House races. The article is a really thorough piece that you can read here. And if you haven’t already, be sure to check our in-depth coverage of races in The Daily Buzz including Rep. Sarah Davis’ contest against Democratic challenger Ann Johnson in Houston and the clash between Rep. Michelle Beckley and Republican Kronda Thimesch in Denton County.

There are some significant career moves, meantime, to tell you about. You can always let us know what’s happening with you or someone else – it’s called gossip, people – by sending the scoop to ksbraddock@gmail.com. Please use POTM in the subject line.

Thanks so much.

Here’s the latest edition of People on the Move:

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By Scott Braddock

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October 22, 2020      5:30 PM

In the only blue Texas House district in Denton County, GOP challenger takes a different approach

It is a district that rejected hardline social conservatives but voted for mainstream Republicans; will that lead to a full embrace of Democrats?

Rep. Michelle Beckley, D-Carrollton, likes to say, “Denton County is Democratic.”

To the surprise of even some members of her own party, she proved in 2018 that it is at least purple when she defeated former Rep. Ron Simmons and Justice of the Peace Chris Lopez defeated incumbent Republican Gary W. Blanscet. They were just shy of victory against GOP County Commissioner Ron Marchant. He defeated Democrat Brandy Jones by less than 360 votes.

Rep. Beckley faces former Lewisville Independent School District trustee Kronda Thimesch for the eastern Denton County House District 65 – considered one of the most competitive races in North Texas.

Should Beckley win a second term, it will help answer whether Denton County really is trending Democratic and if the last election result was more than simply attributable to “Betomania.”

According to the latest campaign finance reports, Beckley and Thimesch are attracting a lot of money in what polling suggests is a tight race.

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By James Russell

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October 22, 2020      5:23 PM

North Texas business leaders begin push to expand health insurance coverage for uninsured Texans

Sen. Nathan Johnson points to business demand for expanding coverage: “It’s about the well-being of Texas citizens, about the productivity of Texas businesses, the growth of the Texas economy, and it’s about revenue and fiscal responsibility for the state of Texas.”

DALLAS – Standing alongside business leaders in the Metroplex, Sen. Nathan Johnson on Thursday rolled out a plan that he said has “no ideology” and is neither a Republican nor Democratic idea: Expanding health insurance coverage to as many Texans as possible, in part, by drawing down federal dollars under the Affordable Care Act.

“This is neither a Republican bill nor a Democratic bill; this is a Texas bill,” said Johnson, the Democrat who succeed former Sen. Don Huffines in the Texas Senate partly on the argument that Republicans needed to rescue their party from the far right. “It’s a Texas bill because it’s about the well-being of Texas citizens, about the productivity of Texas businesses, the growth of the Texas economy, and it’s about revenue and fiscal responsibility for the state of Texas.”

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By Scott Braddock

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October 22, 2020      4:42 PM

Texas Supreme Court rejects GOP suit to halt drive through voting in Harris County

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October 22, 2020      11:57 AM

Video: Gov. Abbott attacks Texas House Democratic candidates as Beto acolytes who want to turn this state into California

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October 22, 2020      11:51 AM

Video: Democrat Lorenzo Sanchez on TV blasting Chairman Leach as a Trump Republican and right wing extremist

Sanchez was accused of being an "anti-police" zealot in an ad run by Chair Leach. Sanchez now calls his GOP opponent "Lying Leach" and says he's a "Trump Republican"

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October 21, 2020      5:01 PM

Bringing their most firepower yet, Democrats look to unseat Rep. Sarah Davis while she stays positive in reelection bid

There's been a mountain of stinging mail pieces coupled with negative TV ads from challenger Ann Johnson backed up by national third-party groups; Rep. Davis has no plans to return fire in the Houston district with a legendary independent streak

WEST UNIVERSITY PLACE – After a decade in the Texas House of Representatives as a rank and file member and part of leadership under former Speaker Joe Straus, Rep. Sarah Davis faces what may be her most serious challenge yet in Democratic former prosecutor Ann Johnson. Johnson has in recent weeks, with the help of well-funded outside groups, stepped up attacks against the Republican incumbent on an issue dominating many campaigns across the state but felt even more acutely in the home of the Texas Medical Center: Health care. Specifically, protections for preexisting conditions.

With the minority party in position to potentially win a majority in the House next month, traditionally Democratic-allied organizations are all pulling in the same direction in competitive races across Texas.

But not here.

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By Scott Braddock

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