Vol 33, Issue 36 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Much like some party elders, college Republican groups in Texas are ambivalent about embracing presidential nominee Donald Trump. College Republican chapters at the University of Houston and Rice University have decided not to endorse Trump. Conservative student groups at the University of Texas at Austin have split. That has left GOP operatives concerned that the party's usual pool of eager young volunteers might be shallower this election season.

The long-complicated feud between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, fraught with animosity since at least the Republican National Convention, is showing some signs of thawing. On Wednesday, one of Cruz's top advisers suggested the U.S. senator is warming up to Trump — the first such signal since Cruz dropped out of the presidential race. The two former rivals also have found common cause in stopping the Obama administration from transferring oversight of the internet domain system to an international organization.

As part of its fight to keep Syrian refugees out of the state, Texas is threatening to withdraw from the nation's refugee resettlement program if federal officials don't “unconditionally approve” a state plan requiring additional vetting.

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio, is getting support from former GOP presidential candidate John Kasich in his campaign to hold on to his West Texas seat.

Is George H.W. Bush voting for Hillary Clinton? It's a question that has consumed the political world for the past 24 hours, raising the specter of a remarkable rejection of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Though unconfirmed, Bush voting for Clinton would not be entirely surprising. He and other members of his famous family have largely refused to get behind Trump, who savaged former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the primaries.

Officials in Amarillo on Tuesday agreed to chip in $15 million to help Texas Tech University open a new veterinary school in the city.

Travis County prosecutors say “criminal intent would be difficult to prove," so they're not pressing charges against Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller for controversial state-paid trips to a Mississippi rodeo and to receive a "Jesus Shot" in Oklahoma.

Texas must issue new press releases and other materials in its voter education campaign. That comes after the federal government and other plaintiffs accused state officials of misleading voters about identification requirements.

Texas is helping lead a lawsuit against President Barack Obama's administration over a new rule that makes millions of more workers eligible for overtime pay. Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Tuesday he is joining his counterpart in Nevada, Adam Laxalt, to file the lawsuit on behalf of 21 states. Critics of the rule say it will place a new burden on businesses, potentially forcing them to demote or lay off workers whom they cannot afford to pay more.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, stepped up his criticism Tuesday of congressional colleague Ted Cruz, saying he "broke his word" by declining to endorse presidential nominee Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.

Rice University's marching band made headlines nationwide Friday by taunting Baylor over its sexual assault scandal. The attention is hardly new for the marching band, which has a history of courting controversy.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has been quiet about U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's lack of support for Donald Trump, warned Monday Cruz will be left "in the rearview mirror of the Republican Party" if he doesn't endorse the businessman.

Disclosure: The University of Houston, Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Tech University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Political People and their Moves

Speaker Joe Straus named his allotment of members to a joint select committee that determines how large a balance should remain in the state’s Rainy Day Fund. The House appointees are: Sarah Davis, R-West University Place (co-chair); Donna Howard, D-Austin; Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio; Drew Springer, R-Muenster; and Armando Walle, D-Houston.

Carlos Zaffirini Jr. of Austin has been named by the Texas Supreme Court to the board of directors for the Texas Access to Justice Foundation for a term to expire August 2018.  The Court reappointed Joseph Barrientos of Corpus Christi, Lamont Jefferson of San Antonio and Jon Levy for three-year terms. Additionally, the State Bar of Texas reappointed Becky Baskin Ferguson of Midland and Terry Tottenham of Austin.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation on Monday named Chip Roy the director of its Center for Tenth Amendment Action, which focuses on issues involving the constitutional balance between the states and the federal government. Roy most recently worked for a super PAC supporting Ted Cruz's unsuccessful presidential run. He previously served as first assistant attorney general of Texas, chief of staff to Cruz, and adviser to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and former Gov. Rick Perry.

Republican SD-24 candidate Dawn Buckingham received endorsements this week from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Comptroller Glenn Hegar. She is competing with Democratic candidate Jennie Lou Leeder for the seat being vacated by Horseshoe Bay Republican Troy Fraser.

Annie’s List, a political organization working to elect more progressive women to office in Texas, announced Tuesday that it is endorsing Terry Meza, the Democratic challenger in the Dallas County-based HD-105. She is running against incumbent Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie, who was endorsed this week by the police associations of Grand Prairie and Irving.

Annie’s List announced on Wednesday a trio of endorsements in some high-profile local races: Ann Harris Bennett for Harris County Tax Assessor Collector; Kim Ogg for Harris County District Attorney; and Lupe Valdez for re-election as Dallas County Sheriff.

Kevin Roberts, the Republican candidate in Harris County-based HD-126, was endorsed Tuesday by the National Federation of Independent Business in Texas (NFIB/Texas). He is running to succeed Patricia Harless, R-Spring, who opted not to run for re-election this year.

The Houston Police Officers’ Union endorsed Tuesday the re-election campaign of Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson.

Mark Miller, the Libertarian candidate for Railroad Commission, has scored his third major metro daily paper endorsement this month. This time, it’s the San Antonio Express-News throwing its support behind the third-party candidate’s long shot bid. He was previously endorsed by the Houston Chronicle and The Dallas Morning News.

Tom "Smitty" Smith, 66, announced this week that he is retiring from Public Citizen Texas after 31 years of organizing and lobbying on behalf of consumers and citizens on a range of issues like utilities, insurance and political ethics. He told the Tribune's Ross Ramsey this week that he's learned over the years that “Citizen activism does matter, and it’s the only known antidote to organized political corruption and political money.”

After almost 16 years with the Texas Medical Board, Mari Robinson announced Wednesday that she is stepping down as executive director. 

Deaths: Jacqueline Ellis, chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston. In addition to earning the distinction of the longest serving African-American woman congressional chief of staff, Ellis is being remembered as a pioneer as one of the first black women to attain that office during a nearly 30-year career in the House.

Disclosure: The Texas Public Policy Foundation and Carlos Zaffirini Jr. have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.