Vol 33, Issue 14 Print Issue

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul speaks to the press about his decision bring on Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, as a senior advisor to his anticipated presidential campaign during the Dallas GOP "Reagan Day" event on Friday, January 30, 2015.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul speaks to the press about his decision bring on Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, as a senior advisor to his anticipated presidential campaign during the Dallas GOP "Reagan Day" event on Friday, January 30, 2015.

Former RPT Chief Munisteri Draws New Convention Role

Also, Gov. Greg Abbott brushes off White House speculation after announcement of his new book. Abbott and Texas Sen. John Cornyn both submit briefs against Obama's immigration orders.

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

***We are taking a quick one-week hiatus for Spring Break. We will not publish April 15, but will be back the following Friday.***

After a decisive win over Donald Trump in Wisconsin Tuesday, U.S. Sen Ted Cruz is now staring down a string of GOP presidential primaries in northeastern states that tend to be more moderate and friendlier to his two Republican rivals, Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Technical issues last week that caused students to lose their answers on state standardized exams impacted about 14,220 computerized tests, Commissioner Mike Morath told the State Board of Education on Wednesday. Most were tests taken by special education students, and Morath said school districts get to decide if students will be tested again.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said Wednesday that he will continue to remain neutral in the GOP nomination fight and will not endorse his fellow Texan, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, for president.

The criminal case against former Gov. Rick Perry was officially dismissed on Wednesday, weeks after the Texas' highest criminal court ordered that it be dropped. The case had centered on a 2013 veto threat.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will publish his first book next month, 16 months into his first term. "Broken But Unbowed" will recount his life story and advance his push for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution, his political team announced Monday.

In a unanimous decision released Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold Texas' current system for drawing legislative districts so that they are roughly equal in population.

Ted Cruz's presidential campaign claimed a "resounding victory" in North Dakota on Sunday after the state's GOP finalized its list of delegates to send to the Republican National Convention, with many viewed as supportive of the U.S. senator from Texas.

A state plan to eradicate invasive Carrizo cane along the Rio Grande — cited by Gov. Greg Abbott as a border security priority — is finally getting some funding after sitting dormant for almost a year. But environmental groups are ramping up to protest use of herbicides and aerial spraying to wipe out the pesky plant.

Attorneys painted two vastly different pictures of former Carthage mortician Bernie Tiede Wednesday during opening statements in his second sentencing trial for Marjorie Nugent's 1996 murder. The killing inspired the 2011 dark comedy "Bernie," and Tiede is hoping a jury will reduce his original life sentence.

Pablo Lucio Vasquez, who admitted to slitting the throat of a 12-year-old boy and beating him to death before stealing a ring and necklace from the body 18 years ago, was executed by lethal injection Wednesday evening. It was the sixth in Texas and eleventh in the nation this year.

An El Paso-based immigrant rights group has been trying to convince city leaders to create a municipal ID card that would help undocumented residents get basic services and escape financial predators. But their hopes may be dashed because officials fear creating the ID would brand El Paso a "sanctuary city."

Five years after issuing a ruling cheered by property rights advocates, the Texas Supreme Court is set to rehear a case pitting two Texas brothers against Denbury Green Pipeline-Texas, which seized their land through eminent domain. The long-winding legal battle has re-emeged as state lawmakers have discussed overhauling eminent domain laws.

Political People and their Moves

Gov. Greg Abbott has reappointed Deeia Beck as public counsel for the Office of Public Insurance Counsel. Her new term expires Feb. 1, 2017. She’s held the post since September 2008.

Abbott has reappointed Jessica Corna of Austin as Injured Employee Counsel. Her new term expires Feb. 1, 2017. She has held the post since October 2014.

Abbott has named Patty Maginnis of Conroe to the bench in Montgomery County’s 435th District Court. Maginnis, already a candidate for the seat, is assured of winning in the November general election after the incumbent resigned and withdrew from his re-election campaign.

Abbott has appointed Wes Tidwell of Paris to fill the vacancy on the 6th District Court, which has jurisdiction in Red River and Lamar counties. Judge Eric Clifford resigned last month, having previously withdrawn from the GOP primary election for the post. Tidwell has a Democratic opponent in November.

Abbott announced Tuesday that he’s reappointed Jim Jeffers of Nacogdoches and David Landis of Perryton to the Texas Municipal Retirement System Board of Trustees. Their terms expire Feb. 1, 2021.

Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tom Mechler announced on Friday that former Republican National Committeeman Ernie Angelo has endorsed his re-election campaign.

Wayne Christian, GOP candidate in the runoff election for the open seat on the Railroad Commission, announced on Wednesday endorsements from former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams and state Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano. He followed on Thursday with an endorsement from the political arm of the Texas Association of Business.

The Texas Home School Coalition Association released on Friday its slate of endorsements for the May 24 runoff elections. The list is highlighted by endorsements of Bryan Hughes for the open SD-1 seat as well as Kyle Biedermann and Briscoe Cain, who are challenging sitting incumbents in HD-73 (Doug Miller) and HD-128 (Wayne Smith), respectively. The THSC also chose to endorse Ray Wheless in the runoff for Place 2 on the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Dawn Buckingham announced Monday an endorsement from the advocacy arm of Texas Values in her bid to win the open SD-24 seat. On Tuesday, she received the backing of the political arm of the Texas Farm Bureau. And on Wednesday, she announced the support of the Texas Wildlife Association. She is in a runoff for the Republican nomination against state Rep. Susan King, R-Abilene.

Ernest Bailes, who is in the Republican runoff to succeed John Otto, R-Dayton, in representing HD-18, announced on Wednesday an endorsement from the political arm of Texas Alliance for Life.

The Texas Democratic Party announced this week that it has hired Tariq Thowfeek as the party’s new communications director. He most recently served as digital director for Texas-based consulting firm Y Strategy. He succeeds Javier Gamboa, who left to join the communications shop at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Carmen Ayala has been named the new executive director of the Dallas County Democratic Party. She’s been with the party for four years, having served most recently as the organization’s director of operations.

The Beer Alliance of Texas has hired J.P. Urrabazo as the organization’s vice president of industry affairs. He comes to the Alliance from Longbow Partners, where he represented the group during his four years there.

Disclosure: The Office of Public Insurance Counsel, the Texas Association of Business, the Texas Farm Bureau and the Beer Alliance of Texas are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. The Texas Wildlife Association was a sponsor to the Tribune in 2014. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.