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June 19, 2018      5:07 PM

HK: GOP Convention opts for small tent Republicanism

This Convention leaves little doubt it prefers purity over party-building but that has not always been the case

You can put a ribbon on the 2018 State Republican convention now and one thing is clear. The “small tent” Republicans carried the day.

With the exception of a chairman battle which typically represents the soul of the party for the next two years, this was more a celebration of Donald Trump and “party unity” than growing an even more formidable Republican Party of Texas.

This year there was more rhetoric about stopping the blue wave and George Soros and less about the challenges facing a Party that should never stop its effort to build its ranks despite its current formidable numerical success.

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By Harvey Kronberg

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June 19, 2018      5:05 PM

Press Releases: Immigration, child detentions, appointments, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest submissions

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June 19, 2018      4:24 PM

Fort Worth could be the next city on the hot seat for pension reform at the legislature

Without adjustments to benefits, the pension fund could run out of money within 20 years; the city has been agreeable to increase contributions on its side of the ledger

Fort Worth could be the next city on the hot seat for employee pension problems, a problem the Fort Worth City Council has only begun to address.

The Texas Pension Review Board has begun round-robin sessions with some of the most problematic pension funds in the state at each meeting. The clock is ticking on Cowtown, which is scrambling to address chronic pension shortfalls before legislative action is needed.

“The mayor and council feel very strongly they would like to solve this pension issue locally, as compared to the state level,” said Fort Worth Employee Retirement Fund Executive Director Joelle Mevi. “I believe they are very sincere in that effort.”

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By Kimberly Reeves

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June 19, 2018      9:52 AM

Speaker Straus asks President Trump to rescind policy causing family separations at the border

"It is wrong to use these scared, vulnerable children as a negotiating tool”; meantime Rep Villallba asks Gov. Abbott to provide for family facilities instead of separate ones

Saying children should not be used as a "negotiating tool," Texas House Speaker Joe Straus on Tuesday asked President Donald Trump to rescind his administration's policy causing family separations on the Texas-Mexico border.

In a letter to Trump dated today, Straus said "There is no federal law requiring the separation of children and parents." He also cited the fact that some of the facilities being used to house immigrants right now "have in recent weeks requested variances to exceed their licensed capacities."

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June 18, 2018      5:41 PM

SB: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declares no civil war in the GOP and he may be correct

A smaller Texas House GOP caucus could prove more compliant for Patrick and Abbott, the latter usually deferring to Patrick for setting an agenda; Democrats would have to ride a “blue wave,” though, that may never materialize

Perhaps every column should now start like this: Before you’re done reading, the president may tweet something that changes almost everything I’m about to say.

In his speech at the RPT convention and again in an email to supporters on Sunday evening, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick – who finished about 15 points behind Gov. Greg Abbott in the primary but remains the spiritual leader of the party – declared there is no civil war among Republicans. Patrick argued that at this point, any assertion to the contrary is solely a media creation.

“As we saw clearly in our Primary Election in March, when it comes to the key issues that are central to the work we are doing in the Legislature in Austin, we are close to unanimity,” Patrick said, pointing to ballot questions voters answered about things like toll roads, abortion, and how the speaker should be chosen.

Setting aside the hair pulling and gnashing of teeth in the Texas GOP Chairman’s race along with the vicious and ineffective attacks lobbed by “conservative” groups and Gov. Greg Abbott against Texas House Republicans leading up to the March primary, let’s entertain the idea that Patrick is correct.

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By Scott Braddock

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June 18, 2018      5:39 PM

SCOTUS takes another pass on partisan gerrymandering, leave Texas decision ahead

Given the ultimate outcome in the Wisconsin case, the Supreme Court might end up hung up on the jurisdiction issue in the Texas case

The U.S. Supreme Court discarded two of the pending redistricting cases this morning, leaving the issue of partisan gerrymandering unresolved and the fate of the Texas maps still murky.

The cases for Wisconsin and Maryland were partisan gerrymandering cases, one for each major party.

But instead of validating the idea of redistricting, the court punted, sending the Wisconsin case back to the lower court to reconsider standing and deferring to a federal court on the lines drawn in the single district challenged in the Maryland case.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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June 18, 2018      11:52 AM

Sen. Uresti resigns, asks Abbott to call a special election in November for successor

"After 22 years of public service to the great State of Texas - both as the State Representative for District 118 and the State Senator for District 19, I formally announce my resignation as State Senator effective June 21, 2018."

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June 18, 2018      9:28 AM

SCOTUS rules against Wisconsin Democrats over legislative map; leaves open broader issue of partisan districting

"It was a technical resolution of what has seemed to hold the promise of being a landmark decision about extreme efforts to give one party advantage over another...."

Here’s the latest via the Washington Post.

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June 18, 2018      8:38 AM

Husch Blackwell Strategies Adds Larry Gonzales to Texas Team

"I am honored to join Husch Blackwell Strategies," Larry Gonzales said. "Their success and continued growth across the nation speaks to their ability to serve their clients." Former Chair Gonzales is senior consultant

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June 18, 2018      7:47 AM

One man arrested after suspected arson at Austin Club

Minimal damage, police believe the man stole some booze from the building

Per KXAN TV in Austin:

A suspect is in custody following a fire at a historic building in downtown Austin Monday.

Austin police discovered a door to the Austin Club at 110 E. Ninth St. had been pried open. A man came out before 4:40 a.m. and started running, but an officer was able to chase him down.

While police were sweeping the building, they found water and smoke and called the fire department. Crews first arrived and reported smoke on two floors, then found the fire on the third floor. A sprinkler had gone off and put out the fire, but firefighters worked to remove the smoke and make sure the fire hadn't spread.

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June 17, 2018      4:31 PM

Full text of the RPT platform is released

The full text of the Republican Party of Texas platform is right here.

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June 16, 2018      2:04 PM

People on the Move

Republicans gather in SA, appointments, lobby sightings, swearing in ceremonies, and more

SAN ANTONIO – Good afternoon from the Alamo City, the site of the 2018 Republican Party of Texas Convention, which has been called the “largest political convention in the free world.”

In the exhibit hall, I filled my Kelly Hancock tote bag with swag from George P. Bush, Sid Miller, and others while catching up with the likes of Kevin Moomaw, Sen. Paul Bettencourt, numerous Texas House members, business lobbyists, and Mike Hailey (here in his hometown).

In the sweltering heat, Speaker Joe Straus actually had his tie loosened a bit at the TFRW “Margaritas with Senoritas” happy hour but lobbyist Jonathan Saenz had his just as tight as always at Chairman James Dickey’s party at the Menger Hotel. It’s okay to cut loose a little, Jonathan. There was free ice cream, after all.

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By Scott Braddock

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June 16, 2018      2:00 PM

Smith: Silence of the Wolves

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues Texas GOP leaders are ignoring Trump’s kidnapping of children in Texas and should be condemned

“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Jesus said that. Gov. Greg Abbott and his fellow Republicans should listen to the advice.

As the world knows – and as religious leaders of all faiths have rightly condemned – Donald Trump has begun a policy of kidnapping immigrant children from their mothers and fathers and placing them in internment camps. In Texas.

The full column by Glenn W. Smith is in the R&D Department.

By Glenn W. Smith

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June 15, 2018      5:11 PM

Dickey elected RPT Chairman 65% to 35%

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June 15, 2018      4:40 PM

RPT Convention grinds to a halt during chairman race

Dickey winning in SD caucuses; Asche forces floor fight and accuses Dickey of lying about party finances, cites abrupt resignation of longtime party accountant

SAN ANTONIO – The Republican Party of Texas convention screeched to a halt Friday afternoon when Chairman James Dickey’s challenger, Cincy Asche, and her supporters demanded a floor vote on the question of who will lead the party going forward.

Amid nasty accusations that he has been cooking the books when it comes to party finances, Chairman Dickey said the party is seeing days of “amazing unity” despite what has been a challenging year.

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By Scott Braddock

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June 15, 2018      4:00 PM

In the middle of the RPT convention, the party's accountant quits

Chair challenger Cindy Asche says the accountant, first hired by Cathy Adams, claims Chairman Dickey is manipulating the party's finances; no comment from Dickey just yet

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June 15, 2018      11:55 AM

RPT Chair race update: SDs won by Dickey, 22 SDs won by Asche: 9

That's from the Official State Nominations Committee Report, per Matt Mackowiak speaking for the RPT

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June 15, 2018      11:11 AM

ICYMI: Lt. Gov. Patrick considers bathroom bill fight over, settled

“We won,” Gov Patrick told reporters at the RPT convention in San Antonio, going further than he has in previous comments: “This issue is settled.”

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June 15, 2018      9:42 AM

RPT Chair race: Dickey leads Asche in senate district conventions this morning at GOP convention

Incomplete results via Matt Mackowiak: With 23 SDs reporting, James Dickey's won 19 and Cindy Asche has won 4. Nominees need to win 3 SDs to be a nominee for the floor vote

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June 14, 2018      7:22 PM

Texas GOP chair candidates make their pitch to delegates, begin final push before Friday vote

Chair Dickey stresses his past fight with an employer’s PAC’s practice of supporting Democrats; Asche argues “we need to make the Republican Party of Texas better and stronger than it is today”

SAN ANTONIO – Delegates to the Republican Party of Texas convention on Thursday gave warm reactions to both candidates running to preside over the majority party in this state.

It’s a race that, unlike some in the past, seems to have very little if any involvement from business groups while certain sponsors of the RPT have either pulled back their financial support or eliminated it altogether, as is the case with powerhouse contributor AT&T.

Still, Chairman James Dickey told the crowd during a short speech that despite certain challenges, “We are on track to have the largest self-funded convention on record.”

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By Scott Braddock

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June 14, 2018      7:16 PM

Advocates petition to throw out Texas legislature's abortion restrictions

Paxton spokesman Rylander says a “radical pro-abortion agenda” would sacrifice women’s health; Democrats counter “These are all thinly veiled efforts to disenfranchise women from exercising their constitutional right to bodily autonomy and choice.”

Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office is once again defending the state’s statutes on abortion as a coalition of abortion advocates sued Texas in federal court today to roll back layers of abortion-related laws passed over multiple sessions.

Paxton, and conservatives who have backed Texas’ expansion of abortion restrictions, calls the passage of recent abortion-related bills to be an expression of the state’s constitutional right to protect women’s health.

Paxton spokesman Marc Rylander said the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the right of Texas to safeguard women’s health and protect unborn life.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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June 12, 2018      3:59 PM

Sen. Bettencourt leads work group effort to price out new education spending

Sen. Bettencourt says the group will thoroughly review Gov. Abbott’s revenue cap proposal, as well as look at the cost of the Equity Center’s school finance fix and even some yet-to-be-formulated proposal to wean the state off of recapture

The work group led by Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, on revenue will begin to price out proposals – in the categories of both best practice instructional programs and school finance fixes – as the Commission on Public School Finance goes into the summer months.

The timeline for the Commission on Public School Finance’s final report continues to slide toward the end of the year. This past week, the commission heard some of its last testimony on best practices. It now appears most of the commission’s work may be done in its three working groups, which are sifting through recommendations they intend to bring back to the commission for a final vote.

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By Kimberly Reeves

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June 12, 2018      3:55 PM

Grusendorf: The Establishment vs. The Folks

Former Texas House Chairman Kent Grusendorf argues that despite the fact that incumbent Texas House Republicans held their own in the primaries and runoffs, external forces pushing for change in state government have the wind at their backs

The revolt against establishment forces is alive and well in the world today. In Europe, Brexit was the first major crack in the dam; then other events such as those in Austria and Italy have reinforced the movement. In America, Donald Trump defeated 16 establishment Republicans in the primary, and a very establishment former First Lady in the General Election.

In Texas the anti-establishment dynamics are also clear: Ted Cruz handily defeated establishment Republican David Dewhurst, Dan Patrick later defeated then incumbent Dewhurst for Lt. Governor, and Ken Paxton won over establishment choice Dan Branch for Attorney General. Greg Abbott did not need to beat a credible establishment Republican in the primary; they were all afraid to challenge him. Abbott easily defeated the establishment Democrat, Wendy Davis, in the general election.

The only establishment leader in Texas over recent years has been Speaker Joe Straus. However, his ascension to power was more of an anomaly, due to rebellion in a closely divided Texas House against a leader who was viewed as ignoring the will of the House.  Straus was not elected by the public, and probably could not win a statewide race; instead he was elected by 150 house members.  His position of power is definitely not indicative of public support for empowering “the establishment” in Texas.

The complete column by former Rep. Kent Grusendorf is in the R&D Department.

By Kent Grusendorf

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