Governor's Race

Julia Reihs / KUT

We here at KUT spend a lot of time reminding you about the down-ballot races in an election. This season, we hosted City Council forums because local elections really affect your life the most.

But we know the big shiny races at the top of the ticket get more attention. So, here's what you need to know about the races everyone in the state gets a chance to vote on.

flickr.com/gageskidmore

The month before Election Day is always filled with a wealth of rhetoric as politicians plead their case before the polls open.

This October has been no exception; the sheer influx of information this week alone can be daunting. So Texas Standard's David Brown sat down with Austin American-Statesman chief political correspondent Jonathan Tilove to sort through the run-up to early voting.

KERA via Texas Tribune

Republican Attorney Greg Abbott and Democrat State Sen. Wendy Davis met for a second and final debate in Dallas last night.

There was plenty of sniping: Abbott alleged Davis profited from an incentive while she served on Fort Worth's city council and Davis vilified Abbott for his alleged lack of oversight of the Texas Enterprise Fund.

But both made sure voters understood their ideological differences – even if their policy specifics remained a little fuzzy – and tried to use the night to gain momentum ahead of Election Day next month.

Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune for KUT News

Republican candidate Greg Abbott has reversed his decision to appear in the only gubernatorial debate to be broadcast on statewide television. 

Abbot and his Democractic opponent, Wendy Davis, had both agreed to participate in a roundtable debate in Dallas on Sept. 30 broadcast on WFAA.  But Abbott's team reversed an earlier decision and said it will not participate because of disagreements with the round-table format. 

Emily Ramshaw, editor of the Texas Tribune, joins Texas Standard host David Brown to discuss Abbott's decision and whether the 2016 presidential election speculations are over-shadowing the Texas governor's race.  

Marjorie Kamys Cotera via Texas Tribune

The agency charged with prosecuting state public corruption cases wrapped up an investigation into state Sen. Wendy Davis last year without finding any issues worth pursuing, its director said, and did not uncover anything it believed it should refer to the FBI.

The Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorneys Office closed an investigation into a complaint made against Davis’ law firm last year. The Dallas Morning News reported Friday that documents related to Davis’ legal work as a lawyer for the North Texas Tollway Authority are part of an FBI inquiry into the agency's board members, citing a letter from the Public Integrity Unit about its own closed investigation into Davis.

Laura Buckman / Bob Daemmrich

The latest debate between the major candidates for governor is taking place in the letters to the editor section of McAllen's newspaper, The Monitor. The sparring began after remarks about the border made by Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, in which he compared public corruption in South Texas to “third-world country practices.”

Abbott made the comment during a campaign stop in Dallas last week. Democrats immediately took issue with his comparison. His expected Democratic opponent, state Sen. Wendy Davis, joined them with a letter to The Monitor on Sunday. She called on Abbott to apologize for his remarks, disputing his comparison and calling it hurtful to the state and harmful to economic development in border communities.

The campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has released letters from her two adult daughters who say they want to correct “untrue things” and “ludicrous comments” about their mother.

James Malone, Texas Tribune

Signs offering promises of “quick cash” can be seen all over Texas. So-called payday lenders offer short-term loans under $700, but those loans have been criticized for interest rates that can climb to 500 percent.

For some customers, taking one on leaves them in a never-ending cycle of debt. It’s controversial, and the practice is actually banned in 12 states.

Recently, it’s become an issue in this year’s governor’s race.

The topic was kicked up after the chairman of the Texas Finance Commission – William White – made comments to the El Paso Times suggesting payday lenders should be able to charge whatever fees they want. Previously unheard of, White’s comments put him in the spotlight among payday loan regulation advocates.

Mark Graham / Cooper Neil via the Texas Tribune

State Sen. Wendy Davis, who got off to a slow and often rocky start in her race for Texas governor, will ring in the New Year with a much bigger bank account and an aggressive new strategy designed to keep front-running candidate Greg Abbott on the defensive. 

For Abbott, a three-term attorney general, it’s steady as she goes: He’ll keep unveiling carefully crafted policy initiatives and tying Davis to President Obama while remaining hyper-cautious in his own dealings with the news media — lest he become the first Republican in nearly a quarter-century to blow a governor’s race.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Democrat Wendy Davis only makes $7,200 a year in salary as a state senator, but her take-home pay more than doubled between 2010 and 2012 thanks to steadily rising income from her private law practice, tax records show. 

Davis, who is running for Texas governor, provided her last three tax returns to The Texas Tribune late Tuesday. Her expected Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbottpreviously provided his last three returns.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Davis lists two attorney jobs on her résumé: She's a partner in her own firm, Newby Davis, and a lawyer “of counsel” to the much larger Cantey Hanger firm. Both are located in Fort Worth. 

Wendy Davis made headlines earlier this year with her abortion rights filibuster heard around the nation. In September and October, she teased the Texas body politic with her gubernatorial guessing game.

After bursting into the race in early October with a big announcement in Fort Worth, the Davis campaign has hit the ground running, from Brownsville, to … Pharr, Texas?

So where’s Wendy Davis? That's what Paul Burka is asking.

The current dean of Texas political writers and senior executive editor at Texas Monthly, Burka sat down with KUT’s David Brown to discuss the Davis campaign. 

 

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

SAN ANTONIO — Long rumored to be a contender, state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte has now made it official: She is running for lieutenant governor.

"I want to be your lieutenant governor because Mama ain't happy — because Texas, we can do better," Van de Putte said Saturday in a fiery announcement speech in front of about 200 supporters at the San Antonio college gymnasium.

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

The closer we get to next year's March  primaries, the faster the campaign promises fly. Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Greg Abbott recently made a splash by releasing an extensive list of items he says he’ll push for once elected.

One proposal in particular stood out a bit: safeguarding your DNA.

The proposal is a part of Abbott’s “We The People” plan. It also includes things like gun rights, campaign ethics and blocking the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. But DNA is item number one.

 

KUT News

Several races in the 2014 GOP primary appear promising for advocates of expanding gun rights in Texas.

Top Republican candidates are making sure primary voters know they’re opposed to any gun control efforts at the federal level – with some even proposing ways to loosen current Texas law.

Attorney General Greg Abbott has included a couple of gun-related proposals as part of a major policy paper released by his gubernatorial campaign. As spelled out in his “We the People” plan, Abbott would allow Texans to openly carry handguns and allow guns to be brought on college campuses.

Jack Plunkett/Erika Rich, Texas Tribune

It’s filing time for Texas candidates running in the March party primaries. The gubernatorial frontrunners – Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis – have already filled out their paperwork.

But there’s a big difference between the two candidates in terms of what’s below each of them on the ballot.

Attorney General Abbott leads a very crowded ballot in several statewide race  – including a four-way race for the GOP Lieutenant Governor nomination. And there could be equally contentious fights among Republicans up and down the ballot. There are currently 36 Republicans expected to run in 14 statewide races. 

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Attorney General Greg Abbott, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for Texas governor, holds a single-digit lead over the likely Democratic nominee, state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

In a head-to-head race, Abbott got 40 percent of registered voters to Davis’ 34 percent, with 25 percent of the voters undecided. In a three-way general election, he would get 40 percent, Davis would get 35 percent and Libertarian Kathie Glass would get 5 percent.

“What you’ve got is a race in which, for the first time in a long time, the Democrat is as well-known as the Republican at the outset of the race,” said poll co-director Daron Shaw, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin.

In 2014, Texas voters might just see something they haven't experienced in two decades — a competitive race for governor.

Current Republican Gov. Rick Perry isn't running for re-election, so it's an open race, with new faces and new optimism for Texas Democrats.

Earlier this year, the Democrats were once again facing the prospect of scrambling to find someone to run as their candidate. Then, on June 25, state Sen. Wendy Davis came to the Capitol in Austin wearing running shoes and ready to block a restrictive abortion bill.

A new statewide poll released Wednesday shows Republican Greg Abbott with an eight-point lead over Democrat Wendy Davis in the Texas governor’s race.

The poll, conducted by the Texas Lyceum, shows Abbott, the Texas Attorney General, leading with 29 percent. Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat, has 21 percent.

But most registered voters don’t know who will get their vote – 50 percent are undecided.

The new cover of Texas Monthly is likely to ruffle some feathers. 

It depicts Attorney General Greg Abbott in his wheelchair, shotgun slung over his shoulder. In bold print above him are the words "The Gov," with an asterisk. In small print: "Barring an unlikely occurrence." 

Gage Skidmore, Texas Tribune

What if George P. Bush wanted to run for governor in 2014?

It’s not what most people are talking about, now that he’s knocked on the political door. When he filed papers this month designating a campaign treasurer — the first legal step on the path to a candidacy — most of the conversation focused on the lesser statewide offices, things like land commissioner and comptroller.

And his father, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, sent out a fundraising letter last week saying his son was looking at the General Land Office.

But if you are, like many political journalists, a fight promoter at heart, you can make out faint rumblings about something bigger.

Gov. Rick Perry unveils his "Texas Budget Compact" in Houston on Monday, April 16. On stage with Perry, from left to right: state Reps. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, and Wayne Smith, R-Baytown, and conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan.
Photo by Jay Root, Texas Tribune

Ambitious Republicans have been waiting in the wings for years, anticipating when Gov. Rick Perry will step out from under the spotlight they crave. 

But the longtime governor may not be ready to move off the stage just yet.

Despite carrying the wounds from his gaffe-prone presidential campaign, Perry showed this week he still knows how to dominate the political conversation. He urged all Republican candidates for state office this year to sign on to his pledge to cut spending and oppose all tax increases — and many of them are rushing to embrace it. (And even if they're not embracing it, they're talking about it).

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry might run for re-election in 2014, and he could run again for president in 2016.

Isn’t this familiar?

Three years ago, as the legislative session began in January, politically minded Texans talked about whether it would be Perry’s last ride as governor. Lobbyists wondered openly whether they were dealing with a lame duck.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison was quietly talking to advisers about a 2010 race for governor, presumably hoping to step into the office after Perry stepped out.

Now it’s Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general, who is quietly talking about working in the Texas Capitol’s middle office. The conversation among lobbyists is there, still, along with a bemused and persistent cautionary note: Remember last time, when Perry turned out not to be a lame duck?

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News.

Bastrop Firefighters on Alert for Today's Weather

The National Weather Service says Central Texas will have near critical fire weather conditions this afternoon and this evening. Winds will pick up with possible wind gusts of up to 25 miles per hour.

Bill White TRS
Photo by Ian Dille KUT News

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White lobbed more allegations of cronyism and corruption at incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry. On Tuesday, Mayor White launched what his campaign dubbed their “October Surprise.”

The former Houston mayor spoke on the steps of the Teacher Retirement System building. TRS is the largest pension fund in the State, valued at over 100 billion dollars.

TRS Building
Photo by Ian Dille for KUT News.

Today, in an event trumpeted by his campaign as its "October surprise," Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White held a press conferance on the front steps of the Teacher Retirement Systems (TRS) building in downtown Austin. The TRS manages a trust fund valued at over $100 billion on behalf of 1.3 million current and former Texas teachers.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White and Texas Governor Rick Perry
Photo illustration by Nathan Bernier for KUT

Early voting starts today and everything is running smoothly so far at Travis County polling stations.  That's not really a surprise, given that early voting rarely draws large crowds.