Departures Shake Up the SD-24 GOP Primary Contest

State Rep. Susan King, who was considered one of the frontrunners for the open SD-24 seat, announced Monday she is temporarily suspending her campaign and deferring a final decision on whether to run for the spot until later in the filing period. 

King said she’s seeking in-patient medical treatment for clinical depression, a condition that her campaign spokesman said she’s “been battling” for some time. She announced her candidacy for SD-24 back in September.

This announcement was one of several big developments to come out of the SD-24 contest in recent days. The race to succeed Troy Fraser, who has opted not to stand for re-election, is one of the most widely watched elections this cycle.

King has served as a state representative for five terms representing Abilene in HD-71. According to spokesman Bryan Eppstein, the only thing that would stop King from running is if her doctors and family advise against it.

The candidate filing period runs through Dec. 14.

“Susan is a dedicated public servant and scrappy campaign fighter,” Eppstein said in a Monday release. “If she’s cleared for the campaign, she will run to win.”

Gun rights advocate CJ Grisham left the race for SD-24 over the weekend, announcing at the same time that he was throwing his support behind retired Fredericksburg radiologist Brent Mayes.

Referring to himself and Mayes the “only two true conservatives left in this race,” Grisham said in a Friday Facebook post that he left the race to avoid “splitting the constitutional conservative, Tea Party vote.”

“With his endorsement comes the responsibility to stay true to conservative principles — CJ will rightly hold me accountable,” Mayes said in a statement Monday. “I hope voters will follow CJ’s lead and join my campaign and fight to save Texas.”

It was also announced Monday that Jon Cobb has rejoined the SD-24 race and officially filed as a candidate. He previously halted his campaign, citing a family medical issue. In a Monday press release, Cobb’s wife, Ashley, revealed that she suffered a miscarriage in October, leading to the campaign’s suspension.


Chris Bell, who was the Democrats' 2006 choice for governor, is not backing the Democrat in the Houston mayoral runoff.

Bell, also a former Democratic congressman, has chosen to throw his support behind Bill King for the Dec. 12 Houston mayoral election rather than Democratic state Rep. Sylvester Turner.

Bell himself ran for mayor this year, finishing in fifth place in the first round of voting Nov. 3.

Bell announced the endorsement Tuesday morning, acknowledging in his remarks that some might be puzzled by his decision. He further explained that he spoke with both King and Turner prior to making his decision.

“It might come as a surprise to some because of my political persuasion, but it really shouldn't. While Bill and I certainly don't agree on everything, I view him as an independent thinker capable of speaking to Republicans, Democrats and Independents,” Bell said. “And truth be told, we agree much more than we disagree. As far as the major principles of his campaign, we're in complete agreement.”

Specifically, Bell cited pension reform, street repair, crime and flood preparation as issues on which King was prepared to lead.


The Turner campaign, meanwhile, released two new television ads on Tuesday. The first presented Turner as the candidate committed to moving the city forward, and also suggested King lacked a similar commitment.

The second more directly criticized King as trying to "delete the truth" from voters, a pointed reference to a deleted tweet in which King thanked GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz for his support.

Turner also released a new website,, to accompany the ad.


Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday unveiled a second issue he would like Republican primary voters to focus on next year in Texas: ethics reform.

“I believe that those who serve in the Texas Legislature should not be casting votes where they line their own pockets,” Abbott said in an interview with The Blaze. “They should not profiteer off of their position as legislators.”

Abbott has already urged GOP primary candidates to get behind his plan to crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities,” or jurisdictions that do not comply with federal immigration law. He is expected to announce more issues in the coming weeks that he wants voters to prioritize in 2016 as they pick Republicans to represent them in Austin.


Abbott last Friday set the date for the runoff election to determine who will serve as the HD-118 representative for the remainder of the legislative interim.

Republican John Lujan and Democrat Tomas Uresti qualified for the runoff after snagging the top two slots in the first round of voting Nov. 3. According to Abbott’s proclamation, the runoff will be held Jan. 26, with early voting to run from Jan. 18 through Jan. 22.

The HD-118 seat has been vacant since Joe Farias resigned the seat in August.


The conservative advocacy group Empower Texans will launch a new project called Restore Justice that will focus on the “over-criminalization of business and daily life" and the potential abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws. Political commentator Lawrence Jones will head the effort.

“Texans have taken important steps in bringing needed reforms to the state’s criminal justice system,” said Lawrence in a statement. “More needs to be done to ensure we have an efficient system that serves the people and not the bureaucracy.”

Civil asset forfeiture has in recent months become a top priority for conservative advocates of criminal justice reform. (see here and here and here)

Cruz Issues A Challenge to Obama on Syrian Refugees

Ted Cruz speaks to reporters on the campus of Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. on Nov. 14, 2015.
Ted Cruz speaks to reporters on the campus of Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. on Nov. 14, 2015.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, challenged President Barack Obama to a debate on refugee policy after Obama criticized the Republican presidential candidates who have spoken in favor of barring Syrian refugees from entering the United States.

While he did not mention Cruz specifically, Obama said some of these politicians had personally benefitted from America’s acceptance policy in the past – possibly alluding to Cruz, whose father came to the U.S. from Cuba in the 1950s.

"If you want to insult me, you can do it overseas, you can do it in Turkey, you can do it in foreign countries but I would encourage you, Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face. Let’s have a debate on Syrian refugees right now," Cruz said Wednesday.

"Let’s have the debate any time and any place and if he actually wants to defend his policy instead of tossing cheap insults, I actually think that will be beneficial for this country."

And here’s video of his comments, via NBC News.


A super PAC supporting Cruz has released a new ad critical of GOP presidential rival Marco Rubio for his work on comprehensive immigration reform.

Courageous Conservatives PAC, while supportive of Cruz, is not one of the main vehicles for outside, independent expenditures on behalf of Cruz. Those go under the moniker of Keep the Promise.


Cruz's presidential campaign on Tuesday announced it has reached a new organizational milestone: It has recruited point people in the congressional districts that make up the states that vote in the Republican primary before March 15.

That equates to 163 so-called "coordinators" in 24 states. The achievement comes the month after Cruz's campaign announced it has county chairs in every county of the first four early voting states.

The states where the Cruz campaign now has a full slate of congressional district coordinators are Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, Alaska, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wyoming, Louisiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan and Mississippi.


At least one South Texas Democrat is publicly mulling a run for retiring U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa's 15th District seat.

Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza, noting that his current gig's term is wrapping up, said he is giving a congressional run serious consideration.

“I was looking toward going to the private sector, but obviously the news of Congressman Hinojosa not running for re-election has given me something to think about," he said.

"I'm interested in helping the region in any way I can," he added.

Garza ran for Congress in 2012 in another district, Texas' 34th, and narrowly missed the runoff. U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela went on to win that seat in the fall.

Garza said that campaign was a positive growing experience. "I learned about the importance of gaining broad-based support," he said.

Specifically? He said that beyond building grassroots support, fundraising is key to winning.

Another name floating in Democratic circles: Mission Realtor Dolly Elizondo, a former Hidalgo County Democratic Party chairwoman.

Beyond the local posturing, the race has national implications. EMILY's List, a political action committee that helps elect pro-choice Democratic women to office, is prepared to get involved.

“Electing women in seats like this is a central part of EMILY’s List mission to get more Democratic women’s voices in Congress and make the face of our government more reflective of the people they serve," EMILY's List spokeswoman Rachel Thomas said in a statement.


With the filing period now open for the Texas primary, at least three Republican presidential candidates have signed up to be on the ballot.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was the first to file Saturday morning, according to Cassie Daniel, senior director of party organization and training at the Texas GOP. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson filed later Saturday, and billionaire Donald Trump filed Monday.

To qualify for the presidential ballot in Texas, GOP candidates have to pay $5,000 or gather 300 signatures from registered voters in each of Texas' 36 congressional districts.


Texas Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter is calling on the federal government to bolster security along the state’s border with Mexico — if only to protect the state’s sprawling network of oil and gas pipelines.

“In light of the tragedy in Paris, I feel compelled to reiterate concerns I have vocalized about the security of our energy industry –the backbone of our state and national economies – and more importantly, about the safety and well-being of Texans,” he wrote in a letter to Jeh Johnson, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.  “As I reported last year, the failure of the federal government to secure the U.S. border has endangered Texas’ critical energy infrastructure.”

The letter, dated Monday, cited several recent terrorist attacks on power plants and pipelines — including ISIS' decapitation at a gas plant in France — as evidence that extremists may have reason to target “Texas’ most abundant and valuable economic resources.”

Willie Nelson Uniting the Red and the Blue in D.C.

Willie Nelson.
Willie Nelson.

Willie Nelson, it seems, is the only person who can bring Democrats and Republicans together in the nation's capital. 

A bipartisan crowd turned out to see the octogenarian Texas legend named the first country artist winner of the annual Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, an award recognizing "a living musical artist’s lifetime achievement in promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding," according to an LOC news release.

"Willie's a Texas legend and a great performer," said U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, before the festivities began.

The House Agriculture Committee chairman recalled seeing a Nelson Abilene performance in 1981.

"Probably, he and I are on different sides of the political aisle, but I like his music, and it's an honor to be here tonight to help honor him with a lifetime achievement award," he added.

Beyond Conaway, the Texas Tribune spotted a bipartisan Texas crowd at the celebration: U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, Gene Green, D-Houston, Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, and Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio.

Performers ranging the spectrum of American music turned out to serenade Nelson with his own hit songs.

Leon Bridges, a Fort Worth-based singing phenom, sang Nelson's tune "Funny How Time Slips Away," while Roseanne Cash, Cyndi Lauper, Neil Young and Paul Simon also performed from the Nelson canon of penned songs and covers.

In a gentle nod to the Congressional debate over whether to let Syrian refugees into the country, Nelson and his two sons sang, "Living in the Promiseland" from his 1986 album, The Promiseland.

Nelson closed out the night with "On the Road Again," when the normally staid crowd of politicians clapped and danced in the D.A.R. Hall's aisles.

The event will air on PBS on Jan. 15. 


On Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that the Veterans Support Organization (VSO) must stop soliciting donations in Texas, and cease to exist as a charitable organization in the state.

The settlement stems from legal action filed in Travis County in March 2014 against Florida-based VSO and its directors. The state’s investigation found VSO had raised more than $2.5 million in Texas from 2010 to 2012 and that the organization diverted more than 70 percent of that money to Florida and Rhode Island (where it was incorporated). Investigators also found VSO's work and housing programs weren’t focused on serving veterans in need.

“It is particularly outrageous that VSO cheated veterans in need of help and those good citizens who wanted to help them,” Paxton wrote. “Bad actors like these not only take advantage of people’s good intentions, they damage the good reputations of other charities that are operating in good faith.”

"It's uncommon, but it's not unheard of for organizations to try and prey on veterans," said Aaron Smith, a spokesman for the Texas Veterans Commission, the state agency that serves the military population. “It's unfortunate and it's unacceptable."

Smith said TVC had no contact or involvement with VSO.


In other Paxton news, he also announced on Wednesday that he's intervening in a lawsuit brought by seven families against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over a long-running conflict over property lines along the Texas-Oklahoma border.

For background, here's Tuesday's write up of the suit by the Tribune's Jim Malewitz.

The legal action has drawn the attention of conservatives in Austin. Lawyers from the Texas Public Policy Foundation are representing the families. And the challenge to the federal government drew approval yesterday from Gov. Greg Abbott.

“We will not allow the federal government to arbitrarily infringe upon Texas land and undermine the private property rights of our citizens," Paxton said in a statement on Wednesday. "The federal government must follow the law and recognize our correct borders, consistent with decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court defining the boundary formed by the Red River.”


President Barack Obama’s efforts to build bipartisan support for the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal have been about as simple as herding cats — but if he wants to help usher in a similar trade deal with the nations of the European Union, he might have an easier time.

On his first official visit to Texas, the EU’s ambassador to the United States, David O’Sullivan, told the Tribune a trade deal between the 28 EU member states and the United States would likely face less opposition than the TPP has.

“We both have high labor standards, we’re both high-wage economies,” Sullivan told the Tribune. “We’re both committed to high standards for consumers and health and safety protections.”

O’Sullivan said he was optimistic that an EU-U.S. trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, could be finalized within the next 14 months.

“We would really like to try and conclude this, if at all possible, in the lifetime of this administration,” O’Sullivan said.


District Judge Julie Kocurek, who continues to improve after being shot at in the driveway of her West Austin home earlier this month, filed for re-election, according to a statement from Bill Rhea, a family representative.

He said that Kocurek plans to "return to her public service duties as soon as is practicable." She has served as the presiding judge for the 390th District Court since 1999.


Keith Judd has submitted paperwork to put his name on the primary ballot — for president.

Judd has run for the highest office every election year since 1996. The Texan made headlines in 2012 when he picked up 41 percent of the vote in the West Virginia Democratic primary, trailing a mere 18 points behind the incumbent Obama. What made him headline material, though, was the fact he was a federal inmate at the time.

Judd was released from prison last year where he was serving time for making threats at the University of New Mexico.


In closing, please join The Texas Tribune on Wednesday, Dec. 9, for a daylong symposium on cybersecurity and privacy in Texas. Among the issues to be addressed:

  • How prepared our cities are against cyberattacks
  • What the public sector can learn about cybersecurity from the private sector
  • Whether the rewards of electronic medical records outweigh the risks
  • Whether state agencies have improved at protecting our personal data
  • In the era of Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks, are there any secrets anymore?

More information about the event here.

Inside Intelligence: About Those Syrian Refugees...

For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked about those Syrian refugees in the aftermath of the attacks on Paris.

Governors in roughly half of the states and GOP candidates for president all tried to inject themselves this week into the policy debate at the federal level over admitting refugees fleeing the bloody civil war in Syria. We began by asking which group carries more sway in the ongoing debate.

More than three in five of the insiders thought governors were the more influential group with just 10 percent giving the nod to the presidential field.

The next couple of questions dealt with Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to tell the federal government not to relocate any more Syrian refugees to Texas.

The first question asked whether Abbott, until recently the state's attorney general, was on solid legal footing in refusing refugees, a matter that courts have said is in the purview of the federal government.

Fifty-four percent of the insiders said Abbott was not on solid legal ground while another 25 percent said he was.

We followed up by asking whether Abbott's action made Texas safer. On this question, the insiders were more evenly split with 47 percent saying he wasn't making the state safer and 39 percent saying that he was.

We closed by asking the insiders to choose the greater threat: radicals infiltrating refugee resettlement programs or violent groups moving across the Texas-Mexico border.

An unsecured southern border was cited by 43 percent of the insiders while the refugee threat was named by 18 percent. Fully 32 percent of the insiders, though, chose to name another option.

We collected comments along the way, and a full set of those is attached. Here’s a sampling:


Two dozen governors, mostly Republicans, said Monday they would refuse the relocation of Syrian refugees to their states. Over the weekend, multiple GOP presidential hopefuls weighed in on the same issue. Whose voice carries more sway?

• "All xenophobia is local."

• "Their refusal may not hold up, but governors are obviously reflecting strong public opinion in their state. (Presidential candidates are as well, but their remarks can be deflected as self-interested.)"

• "No one's voice matters much here but Uncle Barry. The states can't keep people from moving across state lines."

• "Loud, obnoxious knee jerk ideologues who present their opinions as that of everyone."

• "I'm a bit unclear about the question, and how you're using 'sway.' Do you mean swaying the public — that is, leading public opinion? Or do you mean swaying public policy? Or do you mean swaying political popularity — as is, who gets the most public exposure and/or political benefit from their comments?"


Is Abbott on solid legal ground in saying no to Syrian refugees?

• "It doesn't matter. When the sentiments of the people of Texas are aligned with the sentiments of the people of Western Europe, the legal particulars have little impact. Paris resulted in a huge shift in thinking and feeling on the issue of border security. What the courts might decide about refugee policy in the next couple years is irrelevant."

• "Unless he's gonna wait for them at the airport and tell them to go back home, I don't know how he'll be able to refuse them if the federal government is bringing them in."

• "Texas can make it difficult though to assimilate Syrian refugees through lack of services. Texas has accepted enough refugees already. We need the federal government to act."

• "He is on strong political ground in Texas but not legal ground. The issue of state versus federal supremacy was fought over and decided in the 1860s."

• "26 other states have found the same, but I think the churches will speak up soon and encourage immigration."


Does his action make Texas safer?

• "Depends on whether one of the refugees is a terrorist."

• "Remember, the day before the Paris attacks, the President said ISIL was 'contained,' so don't you think it's smart of Democrats and Republicans alike to force the administration to upgrade its policy?"

• "Unlikely that U.S. government can (1) properly vet potential entrants & (2) prevent attacks here as even France, which has the most sophisticated encryption technology deployed (prohibited currently in U.S.) was unable to protect its citizenry."

• "No, it *literally* makes America, and therefore Texas, less safe. ISIS wants an all-out war with the West. They want us to hate all Muslims and to fear even refugee children."

• "I think Texas is already safer, ISIS knows that a lot of Texan Bubbas and Mommas are packing heat."


Which is the greater threat in Texas?

• "Legal immigrants and lone wolves. The terrorists will most likely have entered legally or are radicalized citizens."

• "I can think of a couple things: the Niño, the armed mentally ill with nothing to lose, low voter turnout in the Republican primary, the SEC recruiting our best football players away from home, ad infinitum..."

• " about any actual threat? Lack of drinking and agricultural water in 20 years? Galveston and large parts of the coast sinking into rising seas. A generation of kids who can't fu*king read because their schools have been intentionally run into the ground? This question is stupid and I'm mad at all for even granting the premise."

• "Lack of civil discourse and ability to work together as state and national leaders to move our country forward. We are spinning away from each other at an alarming and unsustainable rate."

• "The greatest threat in Texas is the Obama administration being weak on national security. We have so many assets in our state that are integral to the day-to-day operations of the country that we are, and will probably always be, a target."

Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Cathie Adams, Brandon Aghamalian, Jennifer Ahrens, Brandon Alderete, Clyde Alexander, George Allen, Jay Arnold, Charles Bailey, Dave Beckwith, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, Lydia Camarillo, Kerry Cammack, Snapper Carr, Corbin Casteel, Elna Christopher, Kevin Cooper, Beth Cubriel, Randy Cubriel, Curtis Culwell, Denise Davis, Nora Del Bosque, Glenn Deshields, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Richard Dyer, Jack Erskine, John Esparza, Jon Fisher, Tom Forbes, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Eric Glenn, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, Jim Grace, Clint Hackney, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Ken Hodges, Steve Holzheauser, Deborah Ingersoll, Jason Johnson, Bill Jones, Mark Jones, Walt Jordan, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Sandy Kress, Dale Laine, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Myra Leo, Ruben Longoria, Homero Lucero, Matt Mackowiak, Jason McElvaney, Steve Minick, Mike Moses, Nelson Nease, Keats Norfleet, Todd Olsen, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Jerod Patterson, Robert Peeler, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Allen Place, Gary Polland, Jay Pritchard, Jay Propes, Ted Melina Raab, Patrick Reinhart, David Reynolds, Chuck Rice, A.J. Rodriguez, Jeff Rotkoff, Grant Ruckel, Tyler Ruud, Jason Sabo, Andy Sansom, Barbara Schlief, Stan Schlueter, Robert Scott, Bruce Scott, Ben Sebree, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Larry Soward, Dennis Speight, Bryan Sperry, Tom Spilman, Colin Strother, Sherry Sylvester, Sara Tays, Trey Trainor, Vicki Truitt, Corbin Van Arsdale, David White, Darren Whitehurst, Angelo Zottarelli.

The Calendar

Friday, Nov. 20

  • Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) presents At the Crossroads: Energy and Climate Policy Summit; 901 Congress Ave., Austin (7:30 a.m.-1 p.m.)

Saturday, Nov. 21

  • ACA roundtable on health care enrollment and health disparities among the Latino community with U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez; 6601 Felix Ave., Austin (9-10:45 a.m.)

Thursday, Nov. 26

  • Thanksgiving Day

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

We will be taking next week off for the Thanksgiving holiday. From Texas Weekly, thank you for reading and our best wishes for time well spent with family and friends. We'll see you again the following week.

The Texas Association of Business released on Thursday the results of a survey of the state's 100 largest districts. Of the 78 that responded, 86.4 percent of students were able to graduate without passing all their tests, the group announced. Senate Bill 149 by Sen. Kel Seliger, R- Amarillo, lets high school seniors graduate without passing all five state exams, if they meet certain requirements.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller — no stranger to social media fireworks — appears to be comparing Syrian refugees to venomous rattlesnakes. In a post on his campaign Facebook page on Wednesday, the Republican juxtaposed two images: one showing a twisting mass of snakes, the other a crowd of refugees. A Miller spokesman said the post was "unapologetically" placed by Miller. He added, “I think the post speaks for itself but, what he said was he would rather invite a rattlesnake into his home than an ISIS jihadist terrorist.”

A former staffer's sexual harassment lawsuit against the office of U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold ended when both parties "agreed to dismiss the case after several months of court-facilitated mediation," according to a National Law Journal report. Both the former staffer, Lauren Greene, and Farenthold's office filed a joint court document Wednesday stating "the action shall be dismissed."

After months of talking up Texas' clout in the 2016 presidential race, White House hopefuls are taking their first formal step toward competing in the state's March 1 primary: getting on the ballot. As of the end of Wednesday, three Republican candidates had filed, according to the state GOP: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and billionaire Donald Trump. The campaign of Texas' junior senator, Ted Cruz, expects to have him on the ballot in the coming weeks.

State troopers can end inaccurate reporting of the race and ethnicity of drivers they pull over by simply asking them for that information, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told lawmakers Wednesday. A House committee held a hearing after a television news report found that troopers over the past five years have misidentified thousands of minorities stopped as white.

Weeks after a Houston-area mother sparked an uproar over a caption in her son’s textbook that inaccurately described African slaves as “workers,” the State Board of Education tentatively approved several changes to its textbook adoption process. However, the 15-member elected board on Wednesday narrowly rejected a proposal that would’ve given it the option of creating an expert panel for the sole purpose of identifying errors in textbooks.

Also on Wednesday, the SBOE rejected a rule change that would have allowed school boards to hire anyone they wanted as superintendent — even if the candidate had no public education experience — as long as they had some kind of post-baccalaureate degree and intended to pursue superintendent certification. But the board still appears poised to drop a current requirement that would-be school district chiefs have classroom teaching experience.

In an apparent effort to shut down talk of banning guns in college classrooms, state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, has asked Attorney General Ken Paxton to clarify where universities can prohibit handguns with the state's campus carry law goes into effect Aug. 1. Many professors, especially on the University of Texas at Austin campus, have seized upon language allowing gun-free zones to pressure campus administrators to ban guns in classrooms. They argue that they'd feel unsafe knowing their students might have guns and that free and open debate would be quashed.

As Republicans push to temporarily freeze admissions of Syrian refugees into the U.S., Texas Congressmen Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, and Brian Babin, R-Woodville, on Wednesday called for a temporary suspension of all refugee resettlement efforts. Republicans’ calls for halting refugee admissions to the U.S. came days after terrorist attacks in Paris linked with the Islamic State killed more than 120 people.

Lawyers for former Gov. Rick Perry fought Wednesday before the state's highest criminal court to finish off a 2014 indictment against him, while prosecutors argued that it was too early to let Perry off the hook. The case stems from his threat to veto state funding for a unit of the Travis County district attorney's office unless its head stepped down following a drunken driving arrest. Perry, who abandoned his second bid for the White House in September, did not attend the hearing, which could determine whether he stands trial in the case.

Holding up San Antonio as an example, a report released Tuesday by the Vera Institute of Justice recommends law enforcement agencies change their practices regarding mental illness, sex workers and addiction

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a boisterous rally in Dallas Tuesday to offer a thinly veiled critique of Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders, suggesting his health-care proposals would undermine efforts to reform the system.

Tired of waiting on lawmakers and bureaucrats to clear up their limbo, a group of North Texans has turned to the courts in an effort to reclaim thousands of acres of ranch and farmland along the Texas side of the Red River. The lawsuit comes about 19 months after the dispute first grabbed national headlines and sparked fiery comments from Texas leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, who said Tuesday that he supported the landowners in their fight.

Before last week’s terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris, Texas voters had illegal immigration and foreign terrorist groups at the top of their list of greatest threats to the U.S., according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. The survey would also suggest that the reaction by the state's leadership to the Paris attacks reflected partisan patterns in attitudes that existed beforehand.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has opened three investigations this year into Texas universities — Texas A&M University, the University of Houston and Trinity University — over how they handled allegations of sexual violence on their campuses, documents obtained by The Texas Tribune show. Such federal inquiries have generally been spurred by accusations that universities didn’t do enough to punish students accused of rape or harassment. But at least one of the Texas campuses currently under review — Texas A&M — is being investigated for the opposite: a claim that administrators went too far when they suspended a male student accused of assaulting a female classmate.

Ted Cruz's presidential campaign is using its first major ad buy in Iowa to highlight some of his most well-received moments in the Republican debates so far.

Baylor University President and Chancellor Ken Starr said he has "little doubt" that the private institution will opt out of the state's new campus carry law during The Texas Tribune's daylong symposium on higher education issues Monday.

A ruling from the Texas Attorney General's office has just made it more difficult to access information about the kinds of crimes undocumented immigrants have committed in Dallas County — and whether local officials turned those offenders over to federal authorities.

Disclosure: The Texas Association of Business, the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. The University of Houston was a corporate sponsor in 2013. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Political People and their Moves

Gov. Greg Abbott appointed six people to the Texas Economic Development Corporation last Friday. They are: Steve Head of The Woodlands, Mark Griffin of Lubbock, Alejandro “Alex” Meade of Mission, Mike Rollins of Austin, Nancy Windham of Nacogdoches, Sanjiv Yajnik of Dallas to the corporation. Tracye McDaniel of Austin and Bryan Daniel of Georgetown were named ex-officio members of the board.

Abbott appointed Col. Dawn Ferrell of Wichita Falls to serve as the Deputy Adjutant General for Air for a term to expire at the pleasure of the governor.

Abbott on Tuesday appointed Cecile Young as the State Refugee Coordinator. According to an announcement from the governor’s office, the refugee coordinator works to “ensure coordination of public and private resources in refugee resettlement” in Texas. Young is currently the chief of staff for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Abbott announced on Wednesday four appointments to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. They are:

•    Anna Benavides Galo of Laredo for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2019

•    Jeanne Latimer of San Antonio and Kelcy Warren of Dallas for terms to expire Feb. 1, 2021

•    Reed Morian of Houston (reappointment) for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2021

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced multiple appointments for Senate committees and state commissions last Friday.

•    Brian Birdwell, Kevin Eltife, Jose Menendez, Larry Taylor and Kirk Watson to the Senate Select Committee on State Real Property Data Collection, Reporting and Assessment

•    Joan Huffman, Jane Nelson and Craig Estes to the Committee to Study TRS Health Benefit Plans

•    Eduardo “Eddie” Lucio Jr. to the Advisory Council on Cultural Affairs

•    Brandon Creighton and John Whitmire to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission

•    Brazos County District Attorney Jarvis Parsons and Fort Worth Attorney Leticia “Letty” Martinez to the Commission to Study and Review Certain Penal Laws

The Houston mayoral runoff between state Rep. Sylvester Turner and former Kemah Mayor Bill King is set for Dec. 12. The Houston city attorney's office last Friday formally scheduled the runoff date.

Houston mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner cornered the market on congressional Greens this past week. U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, announced last Friday he is endorsing Turner in the Dec. 12 runoff election. On Monday, U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, followed suit.

On Thursday, Turner announced an endorsement from House City Councilwoman Ellen Cohen, who is also a former colleague in the Legislature. Cohen represented HD-134 for two terms from 2007-11.

The Texas State University System Board of Regents re-elected its chairman, Jamie Garza, and its vice chairman, Rossanna Salazar, at a meeting last Friday, allowing them to hold their respective positions for another year. Garza is a professor and assistant dean for South Texas Affairs at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and Salazar is the managing partner of ROSS Communications Inc., a strategic communication firm in Austin.

Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, an arm of conservative organization Empower Texans, endorsed Justice Michael Massengale in his bid for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court. Massengale is currently a judge for the First Court of Appeals in Houston. He is challenging incumbent Debra Lehrmann in the GOP primary early next year.

SD-25 State Republican Executive Committeewoman Linda Kinney said Monday that she is backing Austin ophthalmologist Dawn Buckingham in the SD-24 race, explaining in a statement that she “will help in the fight for border security and cut state spending.”

A trio of leading Texas conservatives — Cathie Adams of the Texas Eagle Forum, Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values and Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute — announced support for Jonathan Stickland in his campaign for re-election to his HD-92 seat. Stickland, one of the most prominent voices of the movement conservatives in the House, is facing a primary challenge from Bedford pastor Scott Fisher.

Stickland followed that by announcing Wednesday that he has rounded up the support of four of Texas’ “most conservative” senators — Konni Burton of Colleyville, Bob Hall of Edgewood, Don Huffines of Dallas and Van Taylor of Plano.

State Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, headlined a list of endorsements rolled out Monday by state Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, who is in a primary fight with former state Rep. Bennett Ratliff to represent Dallas County’s HD-115. Huffines has HD-115 in his Senate district. The list of Rinaldi supporters include a couple of former mayors of Farmers Branch — Tim O’Hare and Bill Glancy — the former mayor of Carrollton, Ron Branson, and the former mayor of Irving, Marvin Randle.

HD-115 candidate Bennett Ratliff announced last Friday endorsements from 20 current and former city council members in the district. The list includes, among others, current Coppell city council members Cliff Long, Marvin Franklin, Wes Mays, Nancy Yingling, Brianna Hinojosa-Flores, and Mayor Pro Tem Gary Roden; Carrollton city councilman Bob Garza; and Farmers Branch Mayor Pro-Tem Kirk Connally.

State Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, endorsed Kevin Roberts in his bid to succeed her in the House. In June, Harless announced she would not be seeking re-election to the seat she has held since 2007.

Republican HD-33 candidate Lorne Liechty announced on Thursday that he has earned the endorsement of the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition announced Monday that Shakira Pumphrey will serve as its new policy director. Pumphrey previously served as a senior policy advisor to House Speaker Joe Straus.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced Tuesday she has filed for re-election. Anderson has held the job of DA in the state’s most populous county since September 2013.

Genetics researcher Eric Boerwinkle is the new dean of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. He starts his new position Jan. 1.

Former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk on Thursday was named chairman of Texans for LNG, a new campaign to educate the public on the benefits of building up Texas' liquified natural gas export industry.

Texas Department of Insurance Actuarial Director Mike Boerner has won the Robert Dineen Award, the highest honor for a state regulator bestowed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Disclosure: The Texas State University System is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Quotes of the Week

When Donald says, ‘I think you’re great I really want you to work for me,’ I don’t think any sane person would say no to that.

Texas Tea Party activist Katrina Pierson on being hired as The Donald's national spokeswoman

We adhere to Judeo-Christian principles and stand ready to help those in need, but not at the expense of the safety and security of our own people.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on the state's move to refuse Syrian refugees in the aftermath of last week's attacks on Paris

There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.

GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, suggesting to reporters that the U.S. treat Syrian refugees differently based on their religion

If you want to insult me, you can do it overseas, you can do it in Turkey, you can do it in foreign countries but I would encourage you, Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face.

Cruz, challenging Barack Obama to a debate on Syrian refugees after the President, who is overseas, taunted Republicans on the positions they've taken against admitting more Syrian refugees to the country

Everybody advised me not to do it, but who would best represent me other than me?

State Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, on his decision to represent himself in court against misdemeanor barratry charges