Dan Patrick is Still Bullish on Cruz's Re-Election Chances

Photo by: Shelby Knowles
Photo by: Shelby Knowles

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick may be disappointed in U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz for not endorsing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, but Patrick doesn't think Cruz will lose his Senate seat over it.

"I think Ted is secure for his Senate seat here in Texas," Patrick told Dallas radio host Mark Davis on Tuesday morning.

Patrick was responding to a question about Cruz's controversial decision to not express any support for Trump earlier this year at the Republican National Convention, which has sparked speculation that Cruz could face a credible challenger in 2018. U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Austin has not ruled out taking on Cruz, but Davis said Tuesday it would be "crazy" to think McCaul could pull it off.

Patrick was recently named Trump's Texas state chairman, a title he held for the Cruz campaign during the primaries. He has since warned that Cruz could be "in the rearview mirror of the Republican Party" if he doesn't get behind Trump before Election Day.

While Patrick said Tuesday that Cruz appears safe in Texas for re-election, the lieutenant governor suggested the outlook outside of Texas was different.

"Nationally, he’s definitely taken a hit," Patrick said. "There’s no question — he knows it. Everybody knows it."


A top aide to Ted Cruz suggested Wednesday morning that the U.S. senator from Texas is moving closer to supporting his party's presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

In a breakfast hosted by Bloomberg, Jeff Roe, Cruz's former presidential campaign manager, said the senator is thinking on a daily basis about potentially getting behind Trump, his former bitter rival in the primaries. Cruz is one of the most prominent Republicans currently withholding their support from Trump.

"To be honest, though, watching Donald run a better campaign lately has been helpful to him," Roe said of Cruz, adding that Cruz has also been encouraged by the case Trump has recently been making against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Roe, describing Cruz as "on a journey" in his consideration of a Trump endorsement, also said he thinks Cruz will "have an answer" on the topic before Election Day.

The comments by Roe represent the first signal Cruz could endorse Trump following his controversial speech in July at the Republican National Convention, when the senator expressed no support for the nominee.


If elected to Congress, Pete Gallego could be at odds with most of the Democratic Party on the issue of guns. 

The one-term Democratic former congressman from Alpine is running against freshman U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio, and the Democrat discussed gun policy with the Tribune's Evan Smith on Thursday. 

When asked about guns, Gallego indicated that he would not be in line with his Democratic colleagues in Washington. Thanks to substantial electoral losses in rural districts and increasing fatality counts at mass shootings, national Democrats are increasingly unified in calling for more restrictions on access to guns. 

But Gallego is not on board.

"It's a question of whether or not you're solving a problem, so I'd have to look at the legislation," he said. "I will tell you as a general rule, bans don't work."

He added, "I will tell you if you want to do background checks, many of the weapons that have been used the person would have passed a background check. So for me, when we have these issues, the truth is that where we need to invest our time and effort  and money is on the mental health issue because there's clearly something wrong."

Texas’ 23rd Congressional District is an expansive stretch, with many ranches and rural regions.


The House Republicans’ campaign arm dropped a new ad on Monday attacking CD-23 Democratic challenger Pete Gallego as a “career politician.”

The ad draws on Gallego’s financial disclosure report from August 2015, in which he reported receiving $55,000 in income from the City of Austin and at least $5,000 in compensation from the City of Del Rio.

The ad suggests that Gallego was acting like a typical Washington politician in securing a lobbying position after leaving Congress. “And after you fired him, he came back and lobbied, selling his insider status,” the ad voice over said. “Now he wants you to let him back in.”

Gallego, through a spokeswoman, disputed how the Republicans characterized those two jobs, which don’t appear on his financial disclosure report for 2016.

He has taught courses at both Sul Ross State University in Alpine as well as Trinity University in San Antonio. To keep his law license active, Pete has also done legal work for various clients,” said Gallego campaign spokeswoman Lyndsey Rodriguez in a statement.

"It is unfortunate to see the deceptive things that desperate political operatives and vulnerable candidates will say in TV advertisements. This only reinforces why Pete Gallego should — and will — win this race."

James Dickey Reclaims Post of Travis County GOP Chairman

Outgoing Chairman James Dickey speaks to the Travis County Republican Party on Tuesday Mar. 8, 2016, the first executive committee meeting since Robert Morrow was elected chairman.
Outgoing Chairman James Dickey speaks to the Travis County Republican Party on Tuesday Mar. 8, 2016, the first executive committee meeting since Robert Morrow was elected chairman.

James Dickey has reclaimed the chairmanship of the Travis County Republican Party after the brief, hectic reign of Robert Morrow.

Dickey easily won the post at an executive committee meeting Tuesday night, taking 62 votes to 26 for political consultant Brendan Steinhauser. Acting Chairman David Duncan had also been expected to run but apparently bowed out before the vote.

In a fluke election, Morrow unseated Dickey in the March primary, giving way to a months-long tenure that saw Morrow embarrass the party with his penchant for conspiracy theories and lewd denunciations. Party leaders found a way to oust Morrow last month, saying that when he applied to become a write-in presidential candidate, he ran afoul of a rule saying county chairs cannot vie for another office.


Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson is planning to hold his first rally in Texas. The former New Mexico governor will headline the event Saturday in Austin, according to his campaign. It is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Palm Door on Sixth St.

Johnson was already set to speak earlier Saturday in Austin at the Texas Tribune Festival.

And independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin is also planning to hold his first event in Texas this weekend.

McMullin, a former CIA agent running as a conservative alternative to the two major-party nominees, will host a gathering for Texas supporters Saturday in Austin, according to his campaign. The event is scheduled for 1-3 p.m. at Max's Wine Dive in downtown Austin.

McMullin, who was recently certified as a write-in candidate for the November ballot in Texas, is also appearing in Austin on Sunday, when he is set to deliver the closing keynote at the Texas Tribune Festival.


On Wednesday, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced a new $7.8 million pre-kindergarten planning and implementation grant, with a goal of providing school districts the capacity to expand pre-kindergarten programs.

The grant allows 4-star Texas Rising Star (TRS) child care providers to partner with their local school districts to provide more opportunities to Texas pre-kindergarten schoolchildren. The hope is that the partnership with private, high-performing kindergarten providers will lead to quality early childhood education.

This partnership with TEA reflects a strong commitment to increase the number of Texas children in high quality early learning environments,” TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar said. “These public-private partnerships between ISD’s and 4-star Texas Rising Star providers will generate new school readiness and alignment opportunities for Texas early learners.”


Less than half of county websites contain adequate election and voter ID information. That’s the verdict from a review conducted by the League of Women Voters.

They graded the county websites on six criteria: availability of a website, ease with which to find election information, adequacy of election information, adequacy of voter ID information, link to Secretary of State’s website, and availability of information in Spanish.

The LWV found 12 counties in Texas don’t have an official website, and that 105 out of the 242 remaining Texas counties (or 43 percent) provide adequate information taking into consideration all six criteria.

Click here to view the full report.

Inside Intelligence: About That Trump Impact on Texas GOP...

For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked about Donald Trump's popularity in Texas and his long-term impacts on the Texas GOP.

Recent polling in Texas would seem to suggest that Trump, the GOP's nominee for president, is underperforming relative to how a statewide Republican candidate routinely performs.

We began this week's survey by asking whether the insiders put much credence in the numbers indicating that the race is closer at the top of the ticket than has been seen in recent presidential elections. The insiders were close to a consensus on that: 78 percent said they thought the polling is credible.

We followed up by asking the insiders to evaluate Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's statement this week that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz risks being left behind politically unless he endorses Trump for president. Exactly half of the insiders agreed with Patrick's assessment while 39 percent disagreed.

We then asked a couple of questions on the potential impact of the presidential election on the Texas GOP over the next five to 10 years.

We began by asking if a Trump win would endanger the Republicans' solid hold on the state in the years to come. Just over half the insiders said yes while 39 percent said no. We concluded by asking if a Hillary Clinton presidency might prove more beneficial to Texas Republicans. On that one, 46 percent agreed that a Clinton presidency would help the GOP in Texas while 35 percent disagreed.

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


Do you believe recent polling on the presidential race in Texas that has Donald Trump performing below a generic Republican candidate at this point?

• "I believe the polling but polls do not gauge enthusiasm, which will be a real factor in November."

• "Yes, but he's gaining ground recently as Hillary falters and as many Republicans return home, as expected."

• "I have friends who're still committed to NOT voting."

• "Those generic candidates never quite work out, do they?"

• "No, I don't believe the polls. This is a movement election. From unprecedented turnout at rallies to record breaking small-dollar fundraising — no pollster or political pundit has gotten anything right about this election so far."


Do you agree with Dan Patrick’s assessment that Ted Cruz could be left “in the rearview mirror of the Republican Party” if he doesn’t endorse Trump?

• "Yes, but the rearview mirror is attached to a horse and buggy rig."

• "Dan Patrick is the best political windsock in Texas."

• "Depends on whether Trump wins or loses and if he loses, how badly. If Trump wins or loses but keeps it close (respectable?), then yeah, Cruz will be left behind. But if Trump loses badly and drags down the ticket (U.S. Senate flips?), then Cruz gets to say, 'I told you so,' and everyone will be scrambling to get back on his train."

• "Both Cruz and Patrick are on the razor's edge; either could end up more powerful after the election."

• "For a while, people were scared to cross Ted Cruz; that is no longer the case. He asks and asks for help and the heart and soul of the GOP asked him for help and he made it about himself, again..."


Would a Trump presidency endanger Texas Republicans’ majority status in the next five to 10 years?

• "Will strengthen it, and bring new voters to the party. Yes, I said new and more Republican voters."

• "Trump will speed the inevitable demise of the urban Republican. Demographics will take care of the rest."

• "Not likely, in their primary re-election both Speaker Ryan and Sen. McCain differentiated themselves from the nominee. Similarly, Texas Republicans voters will do the same."

• "Trump is a Yankee and we won't pay much attention to him. Oh — you said a Trump presidency. That ain't gonna happen."

• "He'll be more successful than most people think, politically and substantively."


Would a win this year by Hillary Clinton be better for Texas Republicans in the long run?

• "They can keep bashing and suing the feds. However, they still face the demographic sea change that is coming."

• "It would be better for Texas as it would promote more competitiveness and hopefully moderation."

• "Define 'long run.' If she wins, it will take two generations to undo the damage, if it can be undone at all."

• "Republicans like to have a villain, real or fabricated. Makes it easier to prey on fear. Remember Jade Helm?"

• "Of course. What will the AG do if there's no bogey(wo-)man in the White House to sue? Why, they'd have to mothball that whole office."

Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Cathie Adams, Brandon Alderete, Clyde Alexander, Jay Arnold, Dave Beckwith, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, Raif Calvert, Lydia Camarillo, Marc Campos, Elna Christopher, Kevin Cooper, Randy Cubriel, Beth Cubriel, Curtis Culwell, Denise Davis, June Deadrick, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Richard Dyer, Jack Erskine, John Esparza, Jon Fisher, Tom Forbes, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Stephanie Gibson, Daniel Gonzalez, John Greytok, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Susan Hays, Steve Holzheauser, Deborah Ingersoll, Mark Jones, Walt Jordan, Lisa Kaufman, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Sandy Kress, Dale Laine, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Myra Leo, Ruben Longoria, Homero Lucero, Matt Mackowiak, Jason McElvaney, Steve Minick, Bee Moorhead, Mike Moses, Harriet O'Neill, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Robert Peeler, Jerry Philips, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Richard Pineda, Allen Place, Gary Polland, Patrick Reinhart, David Reynolds, Carl Richie, A.J. Rodriguez, Grant Ruckel, Andy Sansom, Barbara Schlief, Stan Schlueter, Robert Scott, Bruce Scott, Nancy Sims, Ed Small, Mark Smith, Leonard Spearman, Dennis Speight, Tom Spilman, Sherry Sylvester, Sara Tays, Vicki Truitt, Ware Wendell, David White, Darren Whitehurst, Michael Williams, Seth Winick, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.

The Calendar

Friday, Sept. 23

  • The 2016 Texas Tribune Festival; The University of Texas at Austin campus (Sept. 23-25)
  • Texas Oil & Gas Association 2016 Lone Star Energy Forum; The Houstonian Hotel, 111 N. Post Oak Lane, Houston (8 a.m.-1:15 p.m.)
  • Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine fundraiser; Hotel Van Zandt, 605 Davis St., Austin (3-5 p.m.)
  • State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, "A Night in Monte Carlos" fundraiser; The St. Anthony, 300 E. Travis St., San Antonio (7-11 p.m.)

Saturday, Sept. 24

  • Texas Medical Association Fall Conference; Hyatt Regency, 575 Hyatt Lost Pines Road, Cedar Creek (7:30 a.m.)

Monday, Sept. 26

  • Debate Watch Party fundraiser in support of the Hillary Victory Fund, with special guests Austin Mayor Steve Adler and state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin; Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 5701 W. Slaughter Lane, Austin (7-10 p.m.)

Thursday, Sept. 29

  • TexasDesal Association 2016 Conference; Radisson Hotel & Suites, 111 E. Cesar Chavez St., Austin (Sept. 29-30)
  • State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, fundraiser; The Houston Club, 910 Louisiana St., Houston (5:30-7:30 p.m.)
  • Keep SD 10 Red First Annual District Event, benefiting state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville; Stockyards Station: Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame Museum, 130 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth (6:30-8 p.m.)
  • State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, "Concert Under The Stars 2016" fundraiser, with guest performers Joe Ely and Anderson East; Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin (8 p.m.)

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.

Quotes of the Week

I’m hoping there’s still time for him to come forward or I think he and all the other people you named will be left in the rearview mirror of the Republican Party moving forward.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, warning U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in a radio interview this week on possible consequences of not endorsing Donald Trump for president

The vote President Bush will cast as a private citizen in some 50 days will be just that: a private vote cast in some 50 days.

George H.W. Bush spokesman Jim McGrath on a Facebook-fueled rumor that the former president would vote for Hillary Clinton

We in this room know taco trucks for what they are: the very ambassadors of community, of justice, and of guacamole.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler at the Texas Democratic Party’s annual Johnson-Jordan Dinner on Saturday night

Take it from me, I served as speaker ... Trust me when I say I have seen him dance a whole lot better than he did last night.

House Speaker Joe Straus, ribbing former Gov. Rick Perry last week on his widely panned first performance on the reality TV show, "Dancing With the Stars"