Jim Henson

Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics - February 5, 2016

February 5, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The Texas political world is all in a tizzy this week after Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses, using a combination of evangelical support, streamlined political science, crack campaign organization, and, of course, charm.  Seems a sure thing that Marco Rubio will make a play in Texas, and to this end he announced his “Texas Leadership Team". Speaking of wanting to lead, aspiring Texas GOP-chair Jared Woodfill announced while on his day job that his client, the fake fetal tissue dealer David Daleiden of Planned-Parenthood-sting-gone-wrong fame, would not take a plea deal offered by the Harris County DA, presumably at least in part to use the trial as a forum to air his views on abortion (after all, he’s an activist). For those who really want the inside baseball on abortion politics, theDallas Morning News took a good look at the competing anti-abortion groups in Texas, pegging the story of dueling defenders of all things life to their taking sides in the fight between Pro-Straus and anti-Straus forces in the GOP primary. Their struggle inspired us to include a bonus video.

Rounding Up Texans' Attitudes Toward Ted Cruz After Iowa Win

February 3, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

In the aftermath of Sen. Ted Cruz's narrow first place finish in the Iowa Republican caucuses, we've gathered up some different survey results capturing attitudes toward Sen. Cruz in the most recent University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll. Start with the trend graphics of his favorability ratings between May 2012 and November 2015, then have a look at his favorability ratings and job approval numbers from the most recent poll in November. There are 58 graphics – and you can download them in different formats, too.

Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics - January 29, 2016

January 29, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

When Comptroller Glenn Hegar assured the Senate Finance Committee that he would “much rather be in this state than the other 49 states in this nation,” Dallas Senator Royce West captured the underlying tension in the Senate’s engagement with the economy, budget prospects, and taxes when he cracked back, “I just don’t want to be in a state of denial.” The finance committee’s worry about what the budget might look like was little in evidence the next day when the Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief convened in San Antonio to wave a red flag on local taxation. The Senate State Affairs Committee explored how the state is muddling through implementation of the state’s new gun laws, while over on the House side, Republicans flipped a seat in the HD118 special election, triggering Democratic dismay and some public self-loathing. A Houston grand jury propelled Texas into the national headlines after reviewing the case of the surreptitiously filmed attempt to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood and indicting the fraudulent would-be tissue peddlers rather than anyone at Planned Parenthood. Way back at the beginning of the week, Rick Perry also got back in the national news for about half a news cycle after leaking to Politico (take that, state press corps) that he would be endorsing Ted Cruz. Perry revealed that he apparently doesn’t know Cruz real well, but he former governor reported that the endorsement comes after they “spent some very appropriate time together."  

With Houston Indictments, Will Planned Parenthood be the New Voter ID?

January 26, 2016
By: 
Joshua Blank
Jim Henson

As this particular case unfolds, one has to wonder: In a nationalized election year in which the Democratic nominee is (still) likely to be a woman, and in which the Republican nominee (whomever he may be) will likely have to at least attempt to deflect if not overcome the "war on women" charge, could the war on Planned Parenthood become the lightning rod that voter identification laws became between 2010 and 2012 for Democrats?

Rick Perry in the Eyes of Texans and His Endorsement of Ted Cruz

January 25, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

While Rick Perry’s national stature among Republicans has never been the same since the unfortunate demise of his 2012 presidential nomination bid, it nonetheless has some meaning in the midst of the GOP candidates’ efforts to put together a winning coalition of both GOP voters and party elites. 

Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics - January 22, 2016

January 22, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Oil may be struggling to stay above $30 a barrel, but the Comptroller made multiple public appearances this week urging the political and business communities not to worry. We’ll see how that looks in January 2017. Speaking of not worrying, the Dallas City council is floating the idea of moving to a cite-and-release approach to possession of less than four (!) ounces of marijuana. Lest you think Texas is going completely in the direction of personal freedom, the Attorney General cried foul over fantasy sports betting, reminding everyone that key sectors of the Republican base are still very uptight about gambling...

Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics - January 15, 2016

January 15, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The saga of sanctuary city politics continued in Texas this week, with the issue being used to attack candidates in at least three Republican primary races in the Texas House: the HD-8 contest between incumbent Byron Cook and challenger Thomas McNutt, and in the races in the districts of both Speaker Joe Straus and Rep. Charlie Geren. Friday afternoon, a story in the Texas Tribune suggested that Texas cities account for only a tiny share of undocumented arrestees not held in custody for deportation nationally. You’d never know it by these campaigns – or by looking at either the Texas Legislature or public attitudes on sanctuary cities, for that matter. Nationally, the president gave a State of the Union Address that was part victory lap and part attempt to shape the tone of the 2016 campaign season, with some taunting thrown in for sport (mainly his). And there was another GOP presidential debate, in which Ted Cruz and Donald Trump went at like they were scrapping for the One Ring. We’ll leave it to you to figure out who the other candidates were in that reference.

How Obama’s Executive Actions Affect Texas Gun Politics

January 8, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Texas voters may not be currently clamoring for ever fewer restrictions on gun rights, but the political leadership is determined to deliver them anyway.

Texas Data Points from the Week in Politics - January 8, 2016

January 8, 2016
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The holidays were definitely over this week with the primary contests heating up and President Obama making a big push on gun safety and earning a swift, even preemptive responses from Republicans in Washington and Texas. Speaking of Washington Republicans in Texas, Marco Rubio made his first campaign visit to Texas this week in an effort to break into the top tier here.  The DPS officer who pulled over and arrested Sandra Bland, who later died in custody in Waller County, is out of the job and in legal trouble, while federal law enforcement officials are taking a MUCH more measured approach to the constitutionalist occupation of a building on national park land in Colorado – perhaps following a little-noticed Texas precedent. As we were gathering material for this post, Greg Abbott called for a Constitutional Convention – U.S., not state, so if you’re a Texas legislator, it’s ok – and 9 new amendments broadly aimed at reasserting state authority vis-a-vis the federal government and putting new checks on the U.S. Supreme Court. He seems sort of fed up! To borrow a phrase.

How Ted Cruz's Edge in Texas Helps Him in the Debate Showdown with Donald Trump

December 14, 2015
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The immediate question about the mutually reinforcing phenomena of Cruz’s recent success in the polls and the attendant media attention he has received is whether Cruz is emerging from the pack to become a real contender for the GOP nomination.

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