Cruz Weighs In on Kaepernick National Anthem Protest

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., to consider five nominees to fill vacancies on federal courts in Texas. The hearing was Sept. 7, 2016.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., to consider five nominees to fill vacancies on federal courts in Texas. The hearing was Sept. 7, 2016.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is weighing in on the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who is refusing to stand at games during the National Anthem.

TMZ asked Cruz about Kaepernick’s protest, which the player said is about racial injustice, as the senator returned this week to Washington, D.C. following the congressional recess.

“It’s sad when you see rich, spoiled athletes that don’t recognize what an incredible blessing this country is,” Cruz said. "It’s very easy when you’re sitting there rolling in millions of dollars to disrespect this country.”

Cruz also criticized President Barack Obama’s response to Kaepernick’s protest. Obama said Monday that Kaepernick was “exercising his constitutional right” to advocate for racial justice.

“I was disappointed to see President Obama stand with Kaepernick and say, ‘That’s right. Disrespect the flag,’” Cruz said. “That’s not the job of the president."


Vice President Joe Biden is coming to Texas to promote his efforts to boost cancer research.

Biden will speak about the White House Cancer Moonshot initiative Sept. 16 at Rice University, the Houston school announced Thursday afternoon. The event will also include remarks from Biden's wife, Jill Biden, and James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state who has a namesake institute at Rice.

The vice president's remarks will roughly coincide with the 54th anniversary of the speech former President John F. Kennedy gave at Rice in which he declared, "We choose to go to the Moon."

Biden's speech at Rice is scheduled for 3-4 p.m. Sept. 16 at the school's Tudor Fieldhouse, 6100 Main St. 


Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is adding another event to his trip next week to Texas.

Trump is set to speak Sept. 17 in Houston at the national conference for The Remembrance Project, a group that draws attention to killings by people in the country illegally. Trump was already scheduled to be in Houston that day for a fundraiser.

Trump's appearance at the conference will mark his fourth public event in Texas since he became the presumptive nominee. It is unusual for a presidential nominee to publicly campaign so much in Texas, a reliably red state that candidates typically visit during the general election only to raise money.


Bill Metzger announced Monday he has resigned as the Victory chairman of the Dallas County GOP, where Phillip Huffines recently took the helm.

Metzger, a Dallas County justice of the peace, had been tapped by former Chairman Mark Montgomery to serve as Victory chairman, overseeing the party's efforts in November. But with Huffines' election to replace Montgomery last month, it appears Metzger's service was no longer needed.

"I knew that when Mr. Montgomery decided to step down for personal reasons that whoever would be elected would have the ability to go in any direction they choose to go in," Metzger said in a statement. "With that in mind, I resigned as Victory Chairman so that Mr. Huffines could chart his course for victory this fall. I look forward to helping our party out in any way that I can moving forward. I wish Mr. Huffines all the success in the world."

House GOP Leader Talks Up Will Hurd's Re-Election Chances

Freshly minted U.S. Rep. Will Hurd
Freshly minted U.S. Rep. Will Hurd

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, the leader of House Republican campaign arm, held a news conference Wednesday in which he heaped praise on U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio.

“He’s in much stronger shape going into this time than last time, even with the presidential model dynamic in terms of the electorate,” Walden said of Hurd, who is the freshman incumbent of Texas’ only competitive federal race.

But then Walden turned his commentary to Hurd’s rival, former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, a Democrat. Hurd and Gallego are locked in a rematch for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. 

"Pete Gallego is not exactly the most aggressive campaigner,” Walden said. “I mean he’s got a rap of being a little bit lazy. It’s not just me. That’s what I pick up from people."

The Gallego campaign declined to respond, citing a focus on a high school shooting in Gallego’s hometown of Alpine.

But the House Democratic campaign arm did weigh in.

“By resorting to these personal, offensive attacks, it’s clear that the NRCC Chairman recognizes the threat that Pete Gallego and his top-tier campaign pose for Will Hurd’s reelection chances in November, particularly on the Trump ticket,” said Javier Gamboa, a spokesman for the House Democratic campaign arm.


The Houston Chronicle has endorsed Libertarian Mark Miller in the race to replace David Porter on the three-member Texas Railroad Commission.

“Our editorial board interviews scores of candidates for political office every election year, but seldom do we find ourselves wholeheartedly endorsing a nominee from the Libertarian Party,” the editorial board wrote Tuesday night. “Then again, seldom have we met a Libertarian candidate like Mark Miller.”

Miller, a petroleum engineer who now develops software for the industry, previously ran for commissioner in 2014, earning about 3 percent of the vote.

He followed that race by authoring a book about the commission.

In this year's race, Miller faces Republican Wayne Christian, Democrat Grady Yarbrough and Green Party candidate Martina Salinas.


On Wednesday, the Texas Digital Library announced plans to increase the visibility of Texas archival materials after receiving a $71,877 grant made possible by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the Library Services and Technology Act.

The grant will go toward exploring ways to make digital archives from across Texas accessible to the world in the Digital Public Library of America. Throughout the coming year, TDL and its partners will begin developing a prototype aggregation system.

“Expanding the offerings of Texas-based content to include collections hosted in other repositories across the state will make Texas’ digital cultural heritage more visible and discoverable, while offering opportunities for them to be used in novel ways,” said Texas Digital Library Executive Director Kristi Park.

The project will accompany the University of North Texas’ Portal to Texas History, which contributes content from a collection of over 800,000 items to the DPLA.

Inside Intelligence: About That Kickoff to the Fall Elections...

For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked about Labor Day and the kickoff to the sprint to the November elections.

With the way that the presidential contest has dominated headlines for more than a year, we thought it would be good to start this week's survey by asking whether Labor Day still keeps its relevance as the traditional kickoff of the general election season or if that designation is more relic than relevant.

Nearly two-thirds of the insiders said the Labor Day holiday still serves its role of focusing attention on races, especially those down-ballot. About a third thought the conventions are the true kickoff to the general election season now.

We next asked if the lengthening presidential election contest helps or harms voters' ability to pick the best leader. About half the insiders said the length of the election harms voters while about a third said it helps.

We followed by asking the insiders for their opinions on how long the presidential race should run. Nearly half the insiders said it should run between six and 12 months while another quarter said it should run less than six months. About a fifth of the insiders thought the race should last between 12 and 18 months while a single percent of the insiders felt the race should last longer than 18 months.

We closed by asking whether Texas should move its primary election day relative to the general election. On this one, a solid majority of 57 percent thought the primary date is fine where it is. Almost a third of the insiders would move it closer to the general election while 11 percent would move it closer to the beginning of the primary contests.

We collected comments along the way, and a full set of those is attached.


Is Labor Day still the kickoff to the general election season?

• "Consultants would answer that the season begins with the summer conventions. But in reality, the season begins after Labor Day."

• "Races don't stop. People may tune out, but the political machine is 24/7/365..."

• "Media might push agendas, and candidates might be out there doing candidatey things, but the overwhelming majority of voters aren't paying attention until after Labor Day."

• "Before Labor Day, a candidate can sink his or her campaign by doing or saying something stupid — which will be used by their opponent later. After Labor Day, the general public starts to pay attention, and those mistakes from earlier times come back to haunt candidates. It's always been that way."

• "The insider class always overestimates how much real people are paying attention to elections and candidates. It's not that they are dumb or disinterested; it's just that they have lives."


Has the length of the presidential race helped or harmed the ability of voters to pick the best leader for the country?

• "It usually helps in that voters get a bead on the character and qualities of each candidate over a long period. Short campaigns can be more easily scripted."

• "I don't think it helps ... voters are smart enough in the end. Doesn't hurt except having to endure it."

• "Harms democracy by discouraging any serious person from paying attention. The long season attracts the wrong candidates — having the stamina to repeat the same thing a thousand times while holding a phony smile is not a presidential trait. The long season is also why it is so expensive."

• "I think the 24-hour news cycle, more than the length of the presidential race, has harmed voters. The news requires conflict, and when it isn't there, they make it up."

• "The length of the term is irrelevant — it's the constant coverage of the campaigns and the fracturing within the two-party primary system that I believe has harmed the voter's ability to consider the 'best' leader for the country."


How long should the presidential race run?

• "Your question is impossible to answer. People are already planning for 2020. Do you mean how long should it run in the public eye? Primaries are important so it is at least two years of campaigning so they can win those Iowa primaries."

• "Many countries manage with six weeks."

• "The way it is now — the honeymoon is over before you get to the altar!"

• "As a political consultant, I'd say continually. As a voter, I'd say less than six months."

• "If you can't make the case for why you're the best, most qualified candidate in 6-12 months, then something is wrong with you as a candidate and/or your ability to persuade voters."


Should Texas change its primary election date relative to the general election?

• "For such an important state, it has always been a wonder to me why it doesn't have larger role in the primary season."

• "Current early primary date acts to protect incumbents. Since nobody pays attention during the previous year, the race starts in early January as a practical matter and lasts less than two months. That's usually not enough time for a challenger to make his/her case. Cruz would not have beaten Dewhurst if the original primary date had held."

• "We need time to rest (and heal) after the primary."

• "Thanks to redistricting, most primaries are the 'real' election. Moving them back to the summer/early fall would help voters and result in better outcomes."

• "Texas should follow the lead of most states and hold a separate presidential primary, earlier than state primary elections. Our primary now is way too early for anyone to be interested in the contests. We should go back to the fourth Saturday in July (used from 1906-1958) or at least the first Saturday in May (1960-86)."

Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Clyde Alexander, Jay Arnold, Dave Beckwith, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, Raif Calvert, Lydia Camarillo, Elna Christopher, Randy Cubriel, Beth Cubriel, Denise Davis, June Deadrick, Glenn Deshields, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Jack Erskine, John Esparza, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, John Greytok, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Susan Hays, Deborah Ingersoll, Jason Johnson, Mark Jones, Walt Jordan, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Dale Laine, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, Luke Legate, Ruben Longoria, Homero Lucero, Vilma Luna, Matt Mackowiak, Jason McElvaney, Steve Minick, Bee Moorhead, Mike Moses, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Robert Peeler, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Richard Pineda, Allen Place, Gary Polland, Ted Melina Raab, Karen Reagan, Patrick Reinhart, David Reynolds, Carl Richie, A.J. Rodriguez, Grant Ruckel, Andy Sansom, Barbara Schlief, Stan Schlueter, Robert Scott, Steve Scurlock, Ben Sebree, Christopher Shields, Nancy Sims, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Mark Smith, Leonard Spearman, Dennis Speight, Sherry Sylvester, Trey Trainor, Ware Wendell, David White, Darren Whitehurst, Michael Williams, Seth Winick, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.

The Calendar

Friday, Sept. 9

  • LBB Criminal Justice Forum - Overview of the June 2016 Projections; Robert E. Johnson Conference Center, 1501 N. Congress Ave., Austin (1:30-3 p.m.)

Saturday, Sept. 10

  • Hillary for Texas – Democratic National Committee headquarters opening; 1730 Jefferson St., Houston (12:30 p.m.)

Tuesday, Sept. 13

  • 85th Texas Legislative Session preview luncheon with House Speaker Joe Straus, hosted by the Dallas Regional Chamber; Fairmont Hotel Dallas, 1717 N. Akard St., Dallas (12-1:30 p.m.)
  • State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, fundraiser; Austin Club, 110 E. Ninth St., Austin (4:30-6:30 p.m.)
  • HD-146 Democratic candidate Shawn Thierry fundraiser; Austin Club, 110 E. Ninth St., Austin (4:30-6:30 p.m.)

Wednesday, Sept. 14

  • Guitars & GOTV with state Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin; Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin (5:30-7 p.m.)

Thursday, Sept. 15

  • State Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, 6th annual Sunset Soiree with special guest Admiral Bobby Inman; The Oasis, The Starlight Room, 6550 Comanche Trail, Austin (6-9 p.m.)

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

The Democratic National Committee plans to open a headquarters Saturday in Houston that is expected to be run in conjunction with the campaign of presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Democrats characterized the move as another step in capitalizing on the race for the White House to help down-ballot candidates.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn is declining to endorse fellow Texas Republican Ted Cruz for re-election to the Senate, just as Cruz did not back Cornyn for another term two years ago. Cruz is facing the prospect of a serious challenger after he upset some Republicans by not supporting Donald Trump at the GOP national convention.

More than 3,200 Texas students who were studying at 10 ITT Tech campuses may have to start their educations over after the private, for-profit chain shut down nationwide on Tuesday. They may be able to get student loans forgiven, or switch to community colleges.

The federal government is accusing Texas of circulating “inaccurate or misleading information” to poll workers and would-be voters about relaxed identification requirements for the November elections.

Texas consistently ranks as one of the states with the most open seats on the federal bench, with some judgeships vacant for years. Five nominees sat for a U.S. Senate committee hearing Wednesday. The hearing came after legal scholars and analysts have accused Republican senators, including Cruz and Cornyn of Texas of intentionally stalling several nominations.

After struggling with mental illness, including three admissions at psychiatric treatment centers, Republican Susan Hawk stepped down from her position as Dallas County District Attorney on Tuesday.

Political People and their Moves

Gov. Greg Abbott named Freddie “Fred” Rangel of San Antonio to the Texas Real Estate Broker Lawyer Committee for a term to expire Aug. 31, 2021. The agency helps standardize forms used in real estate transactions. Rangel is the founder and president of Adco Master Builders Inc.

Wayne Christian, the GOP nominee for a seat on the Railroad Commission, announced on Tuesday that he has received the endorsement of Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced Thursday that she has received the endorsement of the “C” Club of Houston for her re-election bid.

Walter Zaykowski has left U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul’s office where he worked as communications director for a job with the Austin Chamber of Commerce where he will serve as director of education and public engagement.

Allen Blakemore announced on Thursday that he’s launched an Austin-based affiliate of his Blakemore & Associates consulting firm. The new venture is called Blakemore Public Affairs. Partnering with Blakemore in the new firm are former Kyle Janek aide Casey Haney and former Gov. Rick Perry communications director Allison Castle.

Lisa Benjamin Goodgame and Laura Stromberg Hoke are joining forces to launch a new public relations firm. Goodgame | Hoke Communications will be based in Austin and will work exclusively with nonprofit organizations. Goodgame was most recently at the Center for Public Policy Priorities where she worked in digital communications. Hoke most recently was chief of staff to Austin state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez and also has handled communications gigs for NFIB/Texas and for Kinky Friedman.

Disclosure: The Center for Public Policy Priorities, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Allen Blakemore and Eddie Rodriguez have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Quotes of the Week

My culture is a very dominant culture. It is imposing, and it's causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you're going to have taco trucks on every corner.

Marco Gutierrez, founder of Latinos for Trump, issuing a statement last week with what was viewed as a threat by some and a promise by others

I gotta say, I was disappointed to see President Obama stand with Kaepernick and say, ‘That’s right, disrespect the flag.’ ... The president should be standing up for America.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, when asked by TMZ this week about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision not to stand for the National Anthem to protest racial injustice

We'll see what happens, but we've got plenty to worry about between now and November 2016 before we start worrying about November 2018.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, declining on CNN to immediately endorse Cruz for re-election despite speculation that Cruz will receive a primary challenger over his refusal to endorse Donald Trump for president

And what is Aleppo?

Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson, after being asked on MSNBC how he would address the humanitarian crisis in the Syrian city