Politics | KERA News

Politics

Political news from North Texas, across the state and beyond.

Americans are split on whether they think the Justice Department's Russia investigation is fair and are unsure of special counsel Robert Mueller, but they overwhelmingly believe he should be allowed to finish his investigation, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Fewer than half of Americans (48 percent) think the Russia probe has been fair, more than a quarter (28 percent) think it has not been and another quarter are unsure (23 percent).

The U.S. Supreme Court announced today it won’t be hearing a challenge to the state’s political maps from the Texas Democratic Party. In a lawsuit, Democrats claimed state lawmakers drew political boundaries in 2011 in favor of Republicans.

Left to right, top row: Veronica Escobar, Dori Fenenbock and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher. Middle row: Sylvia Garcia, MJ Hegar and Gina Ortiz Jones. Bottom row: Laura Moser, Bunni Pounds and Jenifer Sarver.
Facebook campaign pages

Eighteen months and several political lifetimes ago, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee held court at a table at the Democratic National Committee Texas delegation breakfast in Philadelphia. Just hours before Hillary Clinton was set to become the first woman to accept a major-party nomination for the presidency, Jackson Lee conceded she was "worried ... but not panicked" about the advancement of women in politics in her own backyard. 

This March, Texas voters will decide who will appear on November's general election ballot.

A surge in Democratic candidates in Texas could be a turning point for the party, experts say.

According to the Texas Democratic Party, a candidate is running for every congressional seat this year and for almost 90 percent of seats in the state Legislature.

Courtesy of Mark Phariss

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Mark Phariss is running for state senate; Dallas County has an interim sheriff; check out Cole Hamels’ mansion he donated; and more.

Dallas County Sheriff's Office / Graphic by Molly Evans

Marian Brown has been named interim Dallas County sheriff, stepping in for Lupe Valdez, who resigned this month to run for governor.

The Texas Tribune

A pair of North Texas lawmakers will discuss public education, immigration, health care, spending, taxes and other consequential matters in a conversation with The Texas Tribune Friday morning. 

Official House portraits

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, will retire from Congress after finishing his current term, a source close to the congressman told The Tribune Thursday morning. Farenthold soon confirmed the decision in an emotional video posted on Facebook. 

Texan Don Willett Confirmed By U.S. Senate To Federal 5th Circuit Court

Dec 13, 2017
Allison Shelley for The Texas Tribune

Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett was confirmed Wednesday afternoon to fill a long-open seat on the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a historically powerful and conservative court that represents Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. 

TEXANS FOR ANDREW WHITE CAMPAIGN; CHRISTOPHER CONNELLY, KERA; OFFICIAL PHOTO; SHUTTERSTOCK

This post has been updated throughout.

One thing is clear: The 2018 midterm elections in Texas will be lively. Democrats have pledged a full-frontal assault on statewide offices, which Republicans have controlled since 1994.

In deep-red Texas, Republicans will have to fight for every congressional seat in next year's midterm elections. For the first time in 25 years, Democrats are running in all of Texas’ 36 congressional districts, according to documents filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

From Houston Public Media:

Houston investor Andrew White declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor Thursday. The son of the late Gov. Mark White made the announcement a day after former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez announced her candidacy.

Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., deciding to resign from the Senate on Thursday amid allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct now sets off a chain of events that could give Republicans an unexpected target in 2018.

Here's a look at how it would all play out:

What would happen right away?

HOUSTON — Andrew White, the son of late Gov. Mark White, is making it official Thursday morning: He is running for governor, joining the crowded Democratic primary with four days to go before the filing deadline.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Lupe Valdez is running for governor. The longtime Dallas County sheriff, the daughter of South Texas migrant workers, said Wednesday she will resign to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott in 2018. Valdez, 70, is the highest-profile Democrat in what's sure to be an uphill battle. But that’s nothing new for her.

Local television newsman Brett Shipp has left his position at Dallas-based WFAA to run for Congress, according to a news report from the station.

Updated at 7:51 p.m. ET

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., plans to announce his resignation on Thursday, a Democratic official tells Minnesota Public Radio. The official spoke to Franken and key aides, MPR News reports.

Franken's office, however, says that "no final decision has been made."

Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez announced Wednesday morning that she is running for governor, giving Texas Democrats a serious candidate for the top job with five days until the candidate filing deadline for the 2018 primaries.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus stunned colleagues and political observers alike when he announced that he would not seek re-election to his place in the Texas House of Representatives a few weeks ago. The news also meant that Straus would not be returning to his position as Speaker. In light of his upcoming departure, Texas House Republicans are seeking to have a greater influence over the choice of his replacement.

Texas Tribune Political Reporter Patrick Svitek says that on Friday, the House Republican Caucus agreed to make changes to their process for selecting a speaker candidate.

U.S. House website

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold will repay $84,000 in taxpayer money spent to settle a sexual harassment claim against him from his former spokeswoman, he told KRIS-TV Monday.

Bob Daemmrich / The Texas Tribune

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold settled a sexual harassment claim brought by a former staffer with $84,000 in taxpayer funds, according to a Politico report published Friday.

Joe Barton’s fall from grace happened quickly. Last week, a nude selfie rumored to be from the longtime North Texas Congressman began circulating on social media. Barton apologized for the photo and text, saying he’d sent them to a woman he was dating.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

President Trump brushed aside reports that he is considering replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, though multiple news outlets say Tillerson could be shown the door within weeks.

Pressed about those reports Thursday morning during an Oval Office meeting, Trump said only: "He's here. Rex is here."

The cryptic answer did little to dispel speculation that Tillerson's days as the country's top diplomat could be numbered.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto, is retiring from the Texas House after 13 terms. 

The field for the 2018 party primaries in Texas is taking shape. The deadline for candidates to file is coming up, and political strategists have been trying to decipher what Democratic victories in other states mean for Texas. 


6 Possible Hurdles For The GOP Tax Plan

Nov 26, 2017

President Trump boasted earlier this month that Republicans were working together to pass sweeping tax cuts in the waning weeks of 2017.

"We're working to give the American people a giant tax cut for Christmas," Trump said. "We are giving them a big, beautiful Christmas present in the form of a tremendous tax cut."

But first, GOP lawmakers will have to resolve some major policy differences that could derail the bill.

Official House portraits

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, released a statement on Wednesday apologizing for a graphic nude photo of him that circulated on social media earlier this week. 

Bob Daemmrich: Ted Cruz/Roy Moore campaign/Shelby Knowles: John Cornyn

WASHINGTON — Texas' two U.S. senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, on Monday withdrew their support for Roy Moore, the embattled GOP nominee for Senate in Alabama. 

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