The Texas Signal https://texassignal.com Progressive Media for a Progressive Texas Fri, 25 Sep 2020 15:28:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://i2.wp.com/texassignal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/cropped-favicon.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 The Texas Signal https://texassignal.com 32 32 166339080 Barack Obama endorses MJ Hegar https://texassignal.com/barack-obama-endorses-mj-hegar/ Fri, 25 Sep 2020 15:28:57 +0000 https://texassignal.com/?p=31585 Former President Barack Obama issued his latest wave of endorsements on Friday. Among them, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar.  Hegar is facing off against Sen. John Cornyn, who has held the office since 2002. “I’m proud to endorse these outstanding Democratic candidates who will work to get the virus under control, rebuild the economy and the middle class, and protect Americans’ health care and pre-existing conditions protections,” Obama wrote on Twitter. “Support these candidates––and vote early if you can.” Aggregate polling shows Cornyn leading the race by several percentage points, although two recent polls […]

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Former President Barack Obama issued his latest wave of endorsements on Friday.

Among them, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar. 

Hegar is facing off against Sen. John Cornyn, who has held the office since 2002.

“I’m proud to endorse these outstanding Democratic candidates who will work to get the virus under control, rebuild the economy and the middle class, and protect Americans’ health care and pre-existing conditions protections,” Obama wrote on Twitter. “Support these candidates––and vote early if you can.”

Aggregate polling shows Cornyn leading the race by several percentage points, although two recent polls show those margins tightening. Both candidates have agreed to their first debate on Oct. 9. Notably, Senator Ted Cruz often polled several points higher than Beto O’Rourke at this point in 2018 (and polled better than Cornyn does now), only to escape with a narrow victory.

On Thursday, Hegar spoke at the Texas Democratic Party’s Annual Johnson-Jordan Dinner along with Hillary Clinton and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. 

“The whole world is watching what is happening here in Texas,” Hegar said in a video for the virtual fundraiser. “In just a few weeks, Texans across the state are going to head to the ballot box and decide between the status quo and a brighter future for our kids.” 

Photo: Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images

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Immigration activists continue to hammer Cornyn on immigration https://texassignal.com/immigration-activists-continue-to-hammer-cornyn-on-immigration/ Thu, 24 Sep 2020 22:40:44 +0000 https://texassignal.com/?p=31582 In a recent interview with the Texas Tribune, John Cornyn claimed that he was in favor of a standalone immigration bill. That comment has prompted a further round of criticism from some of the largest immigration reform organizations, who have coined the term “the Cornyn con.” Last week, after John Cornyn took to the Spanish-language airwaves for his re-election bid, a number of immigration activists called him out for flagrant hypocrisy in his ad. The ad called “Tranquilo,” shows a scene of Latino children in a classroom with a voiceover in Spanish saying Cornyn supports the legalization of Dreamers (immigrant […]

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In a recent interview with the Texas Tribune, John Cornyn claimed that he was in favor of a standalone immigration bill. That comment has prompted a further round of criticism from some of the largest immigration reform organizations, who have coined the term “the Cornyn con.”

Last week, after John Cornyn took to the Spanish-language airwaves for his re-election bid, a number of immigration activists called him out for flagrant hypocrisy in his ad.

The ad called “Tranquilo,” shows a scene of Latino children in a classroom with a voiceover in Spanish saying Cornyn supports the legalization of Dreamers (immigrant children brought to this country at a young age). For immigration advocates, the Cornyn ad is a massive lie.

Cornyn has actually voted against the DREAM Act multiple times. The DREAM Act is a bipartisan bill that would provide legal status for undocumented immigrants who came to America as children and meet certain requirements. He has also taken stances and votes that have undermined true immigration reform.

Cornyn is facing a tough re-election against combat veteran MJ Hegar. A new poll shows that Texas is close. Cornyn is at 42 percent to Hegar’s 37 percent support. Trump is up against Biden by only 46 percent to 43 percent.

Texas has the second highest population of Dreamers and undocumented immigrants in the country. A pathway to citizenship for Dreamers is broadly popular. According to Pew Research, 74 percent of Americans support a law that would provide legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, an organization that advocates for immigration reform, released a statement about Cornyn. “The House of Representatives passed a bill that legalizes Dreamers in 2019. It’s called the Dream and Promise Act, and it’s sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk. Cornyn could prove he has ‘evolved’ by publicly demanding a standalone vote. 

Sharry, who has previously called Cornyn a “silver-tongued liar” when it comes to immigration, went even further. “So Cornyn has an election-year conversion, says he for a solution, but does nothing to actually to make it happen. We have seen this two-faced two-step for years. That’s why we dubbed it the Cornyn Con.”

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

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Signal Investigates: Who is Sarah Davis? https://texassignal.com/signal-investigates-sarah-davis/ Thu, 24 Sep 2020 17:20:37 +0000 https://texassignal.com/?p=31576 There has never been a more crucial time for investigative journalism, and a closer examination of the voting records and motivations of the elected officials governing the three branches of Texas government. In this series, we’ll be taking a deep dive to bring you the facts that matter. This is Signal Investigates: Who is Sarah Davis?  Across Texas, Republican incumbents are scrambling. They’ve never faced challengers as serious as they do this cycle, with direct mail, digital ads and even television buys making appeals to their voters. These Republican incumbents are also unaccustomed to having their legislative records examined more […]

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There has never been a more crucial time for investigative journalism, and a closer examination of the voting records and motivations of the elected officials governing the three branches of Texas government. In this series, we’ll be taking a deep dive to bring you the facts that matter.

This is Signal Investigates: Who is Sarah Davis? 

Across Texas, Republican incumbents are scrambling. They’ve never faced challengers as serious as they do this cycle, with direct mail, digital ads and even television buys making appeals to their voters. These Republican incumbents are also unaccustomed to having their legislative records examined more closely unless it was by a right-wing primary challenger. Danger awaits behind every door for Texas Republicans, who for years prioritized feeding the beast and satisfying their base over genuine legislative accomplishment. As these Texas Republicans sprint to the middle, their legislative records show representatives that are out-of-touch with the districts they represent. 

Nobody exemplifies this trend more than Texas State Rep. Sarah Davis. For years, Davis it seemed, was unique in her immunity from stiff cross-examination. Widely viewed as the most moderate Republican in the Texas Legislature, she had calculatingly and selectively gone toe to toe with Democratic candidates and Governor Greg Abbott’s political machine alike, and emerged unscathed each time.

But then we reached this moment in time. 2020 turned into one of the most cataclysmic years in American history. As the novel coronavirus pandemic ravaged Texas, and particularly Harris County, and President Donald Trump continued to alienate suburban and independent women, the momentum has only continued to shift to Democrats.

Even still, that was before hurricane season. This season in Harris County and the coastal bend has been unpredictable and terrifying, with strong storms and flooding as recently as this week. Warnings of unsurvivable storm surges and cars being washed away in powerful flooding called to mind the persistent calls of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Evan Minz, who has for years begged the question: when the hell are they going to build the damn Ike Dike?

Legislative and policy fights around hurricane response are commonplace in the states afflicted by the storms, and Texas and Harris County specifically are still waiting for assistance from the federal government to assist in the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Harvey. This week, Signal uncovered a track record of votes that Davis has taken that have been detrimental to hurricane survivors throughout the region.

It started when we took a closer look at who has backed Davis’ campaigns financially. We quickly found that the group Texans for Lawsuit Reform has given Davis over half a million dollars, and found over $60,000 of contributions from the insurance industry. 

Texans for Lawsuit Reform have backed a wide-ranging group of candidates and legislation. One of the bills they were most interested in during the 2017 legislative session was Senate Bill 10, a pet bill for Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, which would have made it harder for property owners to sue insurance companies over storm-related claims.

Many businesses were incensed and lined up to oppose Patrick’s bill, but not every sector shared their view. The insurance industry in Texas lobbied heavily on behalf of the house version, HB 1774, which was famously described as a money grab by the insurance industry. 

When we reviewed the list of legislators who co-authored that legislation, one name stood out: Davis, Sarah.

It’s always surprising to see Houston representatives support or oppose legislation that makes life harder on property owners trying to recover from a catastrophic hurricane. As Houston residents continue to heal from the scars of Hurricane Harvey, and Ike before it and many others before them, there has never been a more important time for our elected officials to fight for working Texans.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, this isn’t just one vote. 

When multiple tornadoes ripped through North Texas in 2011 and then-Governor Rick Perry issued a disaster declaration, he highlighted a bill the legislature had passed during the session that made it illegal for contractors to demand full or partial payment before they began work repairing hurricane-damaged homes. That bill, HB 1711, carried the type of bipartisan support you would hope for legislation so important, sailing through the State House with only one member voting against it.

That member was Sarah Davis. 

To date, she’s accepted over $100,000 from general contractors in her political campaigns.

More to come. 

We need your help. There are over 100 right-wing media outlets in Texas devoted to spreading misinformation and creating confusion. Click here now to support our investigative and political journalism, and help us hold our elected officials accountable at the ballot box and in the legislature. 

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Democratic candidate for Texas Railroad Commission makes major ad buy https://texassignal.com/democratic-candidate-for-texas-railroad-commission-makes-major-ad-buy/ Thu, 24 Sep 2020 15:28:55 +0000 https://texassignal.com/?p=31570 Chrysta Castañeda, the Democratic candidate for the Texas Railroad Commission, is investing in six figures worth of television ads in the Houston area starting Friday. Castañeda is facing off against Republican Jim Wright, best known for his campaign’s glaring conflict of interest with his own company, DeWitt Recyclable Products, a company overseen by the same state agency he seeks to help guide.  The ad focuses on wasteful and illegal flaring from oil and gas companies and Castañeda’s promise to put a stop to it. It also mentions some of the violations issued by the Texas Railroad Commission to Wright’s company, […]

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Chrysta Castañeda, the Democratic candidate for the Texas Railroad Commission, is investing in six figures worth of television ads in the Houston area starting Friday.

Castañeda is facing off against Republican Jim Wright, best known for his campaign’s glaring conflict of interest with his own company, DeWitt Recyclable Products, a company overseen by the same state agency he seeks to help guide. 

The ad focuses on wasteful and illegal flaring from oil and gas companies and Castañeda’s promise to put a stop to it. It also mentions some of the violations issued by the Texas Railroad Commission to Wright’s company, and some of the lawsuits that Wright has found himself in.

“Many Texans don’t know a thing about the Railroad Commission, but for the countless Texans who work in the oil and gas industry, it’s probably the elected body with the biggest impact on their lives,” Castañeda said in a prepared statement. “Houston is synonymous with oil and gas, so it’s the ideal place to roll out our first TV ad.”

All three spots on the Texas Railroad Commissioner are currently held by Republicans. Despite its name, the agency has nothing to do with railways and instead focuses on the regulation and enforcement of oil and gas laws in the state. 

Elections to the commission are statewide, meaning all Texans will be able to cast their ballot for the next commissioner and their six-year term.

Photo: Hays County Democratic Party

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Around Texas, a last push for the 2020 census https://texassignal.com/around-texas-a-last-push-for-the-2020-census/ Wed, 23 Sep 2020 22:00:00 +0000 https://texassignal.com/?p=31569 With a week to go before counting for the census ends, many communities around Texas are making a last-minute push to try and get as much participation as possible before September 30. An incomplete census in Texas will have dire ramifications, including the potential loss of billions in federal funding. The current census response rate in Texas is below the national average, according to a tracker from the Census count. Texas has a response rate of 61.9 percent, while the national average is at 66.2 percent. Several counties in the south and along the border of Texas, including Real, Edwards […]

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With a week to go before counting for the census ends, many communities around Texas are making a last-minute push to try and get as much participation as possible before September 30. An incomplete census in Texas will have dire ramifications, including the potential loss of billions in federal funding.

The current census response rate in Texas is below the national average, according to a tracker from the Census count. Texas has a response rate of 61.9 percent, while the national average is at 66.2 percent. Several counties in the south and along the border of Texas, including Real, Edwards and Terrell, currently have response rates below 30 percent.

The 2020 census, as well as the Census Bureau, has been mired in controversy since the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the census is facing even more chaos after the Census Bureau announced they would halt counting a month ahead of schedule. That decision has prompted a number of lawmakers and community leaders to make a mad dash during the final week of counting.

In Dallas, County Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia is spearheading a campaign called “Time’s Up to Stand up. Get Counted.” It is a partnership with several community organizations to increase the census count in Dallas County.

At a news conference, Dr. Garcia stressed the importance of getting as many Dallas residents as possible to complete their census. “There are billions of dollars at stake in federal funding for programs that so many in our community depend on for life-saving health care, for education that opens doors, for infrastructure that keeps our economy running, and many other resources.”

The campaign includes a seven-day push where organizations and groups in Dallas will canvass neighborhoods that have traditionally been hard to count. They are also setting up “Census Live” events outside restaurants and churches, which would include WiFi. One of the biggest barriers for imputing census information for many communities, especially those of color, is the lack of access to an internet connection.

Dr. Garcia was joined at the news conference by Ed Turner, the 2020 Census Coordinator for Dallas. The current Dallas County response rate for the census is 62.9 percent. In 2010, the response rate was 64.6 percent.

A survey from the George Washington Institute of Public Policy showed that even a 1 percent undercount in Texas, would cost the state more than $290 million in federal funding over 10 years. An undercount also jeopardizes the number of additional congressional seats Texas could gain.

Photo: Bill Oxford/Getty Images

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Ted Cruz blocks resolution honoring RBG https://texassignal.com/ted-cruz-blocks-resolution-honoring-rbg/ Wed, 23 Sep 2020 19:30:00 +0000 https://texassignal.com/?p=31565 On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cuz blocked a resolution in the U.S. Senate honoring the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The bipartisan resolution to commemorate Ginsberg was amended by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to include her last dying wish, that her vacancy in the Supreme Court not be filled until a new president is in power. “Unfortunately, the Democratic leader has put forth an amendment to turn that bipartisan resolution into a partisan resolution,” Cruz said, objecting to the resolution.  Cruz said that under the Constitution, members of the judiciary do not appoint their own successors.   The Texas […]

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On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cuz blocked a resolution in the U.S. Senate honoring the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The bipartisan resolution to commemorate Ginsberg was amended by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to include her last dying wish, that her vacancy in the Supreme Court not be filled until a new president is in power.

“Unfortunately, the Democratic leader has put forth an amendment to turn that bipartisan resolution into a partisan resolution,” Cruz said, objecting to the resolution. 

Cruz said that under the Constitution, members of the judiciary do not appoint their own successors.  

The Texas senator went on to give a lengthy defense of Republicans moving to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, framing Democrats as hypocrites for pushing for the nomination of Merrick Garland during an election year but not supporting President Trump’s incoming nominee.

Schumer’s reply to Cruz was much shorter: “Justice Ginsburg would easily see through the legal sophistry of the argument of the junior senator from Texas. To turn Justice Ginsburg’s dying words against her is so, so beneath the dignity of this body.”

Trump has yet to announce his nominee, but it looks increasingly likely the nominee will have the necessary backing from Republicans to be confirmed. Republicans need only a simple majority of 51 votes to confirm Trump’s incoming nominee. Democrats would need at least four Republican defections to successfully block the nomination.

Both Cruz and Cornyn have expressed support to fill the Supreme Court vacancy as soon as possible.

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

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Texas Democrats announce Hasan Minhaj as a guest for Johnson-Jordan Dinner https://texassignal.com/texas-democrats-announce-hasan-minhaj-as-a-guest-for-johnson-jordan-dinner/ Wed, 23 Sep 2020 15:27:53 +0000 https://texassignal.com/?p=31562 The Texas Democratic Party announced Wednesday that Hasan Minhaj, best known for the Netflix comedy and talk show “Patriot Act,” will be featured as a guest at the Johnson-Jordan fundraising dinner.  Minhaj will join Hillary Clinton, Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Senate nominee MJ Hegar and others as guest speakers.  “I couldn’t be more excited to join the Texas Democratic Party’s annual Johnson-Jordan dinner to discuss Texas’ role as a battleground state and the important role the AAPI community will play in future elections,” Minhaj said in a prepared statement. “As the fastest-growing community in Texas, registering to vote and getting out […]

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The Texas Democratic Party announced Wednesday that Hasan Minhaj, best known for the Netflix comedy and talk show “Patriot Act,” will be featured as a guest at the Johnson-Jordan fundraising dinner. 

Minhaj will join Hillary Clinton, Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Senate nominee MJ Hegar and others as guest speakers. 

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the Texas Democratic Party’s annual Johnson-Jordan dinner to discuss Texas’ role as a battleground state and the important role the AAPI community will play in future elections,” Minhaj said in a prepared statement. “As the fastest-growing community in Texas, registering to vote and getting out to vote might be the difference between winning and losing the state.”

Texas Democrats said they are trying to reach the more than 1.5 million AAPI residents in Texas, whose voting-eligible population represents about 5.5 percent of the Texas electorate. AAPI Victory Fund, a PAC, is also making a $1 million investment in Texas for the same reason.

The Johnson-Jordan Dinner will take place Thursday, September 24, and begin at 6:30 p.m.

Like their state convention, the annual Democratic fundraiser will be entirely virtual.

Photo: Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

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A new push for justice and accountability at Fort Hood https://texassignal.com/a-new-push-for-justice-and-accountability-at-fort-hood/ Tue, 22 Sep 2020 22:00:34 +0000 https://texassignal.com/?p=31557 Last week in Washington, a bipartisan group of Congressmembers unveiled the “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act.” The bill was filed to address the murder of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillén, who was stationed at Fort Hood, and it provides a new reporting procedure for sexual assault and harassment claims from military service members. While this is a welcome step forward to achieve justice for Guillén, there are still very troubling concerns about the safety of service members at the Texas military base. The “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act” was introduced by California Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier and Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a […]

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Last week in Washington, a bipartisan group of Congressmembers unveiled the “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act.” The bill was filed to address the murder of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillén, who was stationed at Fort Hood, and it provides a new reporting procedure for sexual assault and harassment claims from military service members. While this is a welcome step forward to achieve justice for Guillén, there are still very troubling concerns about the safety of service members at the Texas military base.

The “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act” was introduced by California Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier and Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a Republican from Oklahoma. At a press conference announcing the bipartisan legislation, Speier spoke about the Houston native, and the wake of activism sparked by her death. “I Am Vanessa Guillén has become a rallying cry across the country for survivors speaking out against the toxic rot in the military around harassment and sexual assault,” said Speier on the steps outside Congress.

Vanessa Guillén disappeared in April. According to her family, she told them she was being sexually harassed at Fort Hood. Her body was found in June just outside the base.

In the wake of Guillén’s disappearance, demonstrations, rallies, and protests proliferated around the country. Men and women who experienced sexual harassment in the military came forward and the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillén became a rallying cry.

As awareness of Guillén’s disappearance and death grew, it also shed a light on an ongoing crisis at Fort Hood. This year, 28 soldiers have died on the military base in Killeen, Texas. Five of those deaths were from homicide. Since 2016, more soldiers from Fort Hood have died from homicide than battle.

The family of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, found in August hanging from a tree in Temple, Texas, has accused the army of creating an inhospitable environment around Fort Hood. According to family members, Fernandes was humiliated after a senior superior assaulted him, and experienced bullying and hazing.

Attorney Natalie Khawam, who represents both the Fernandes and Guillén families, posted a statement on her Twitter account. “Sergeant Fernandes is the thirteenth soldier to have been [sic] vanished or been killed this year alone. He was last seen on August 17th and declared missing on August 19th after reporting sexual assault, being hospitalized for seven days, and being transferred to a new unit. Congress must to [sic] act now and pass the #IAmVanessaGuillén bill to protect our soldiers.”

Rep. Speier and seven other Democratic members of Congress traveled to Fort Hood last weekend. In a press conference outside the base, several congress members reported unsafe and hazardous living conditions in the barracks. Rep. Ayanna Pressley pledged that she and her colleagues would continue to press for “transparency and accountability” at the army base. 

In Texas, several Democrats have been vocal about demanding justice when it comes to Fort Hood. Julie Oliver, a Democratic challenger, to U.S. Rep. Roger Williams has pressed for an investigation into Fort Hood. Williams represents the district that encompasses Fort Hood. Oliver has also promised to sign on as a co-sponsor of the “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act.” It is not clear whether or not Williams would do the same when the bill gets a vote in Congress in either October or after the November election.

Keke Williams, who is challenging State Rep. Brad Buckley, has been speaking frequently with the Guillén family, and she has attended numerous demonstrations, vigils, and rallies for Vanessa. A former combat veteran, Williams is angling to represent a state house district that encompasses a portion of Fort Hood.

State Rep. César Blanco, a Navy veteran and Texas Senate candidate, said he will file a bill in the next Texas legislative session named after Guillén to “protect victims/witnesses of sexual assault from retaliation for reporting sexual assault and ensure justice is served.”

With fewer than 43 days until the election and with the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, co-sponsors of the “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act” are hoping for a vote soon. Pelosi’s office provided a statement after she met with the Guillén family: “I gave the family my commitment that this important first step to combatting sexual harassment and assault would come to the House Floor for a vote, but the Congress will not stop until we have finally, fully ended this epidemic – in the military, in the workplace, and in all places.”

In a statement to the Texas Signal, Rep. Joaquin Castro, the Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and an original co-sponsor of the “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act,” applauded the leadership of Rep. Speier, and the commitment to a vote from Speaker Pelosi. Noting how the bill would overhaul how the military handles claims of sexual assault and harassment, Castro emphasized the importance of an independent system.

“My first hearing as a member of Congress on the House Armed Service Committee was about military sexual trauma at Lackland Air Force base in my district in San Antonio — that was seven years ago, yet the problem still persists today,” Castro said. “SPC Vanessa Guillén’s brutal murder has sparked a national movement for change and become a catalyst for long-overdue systemic reform. Military leadership has repeatedly failed to reduce violent crime at Fort Hood, and we must end the horrific cycle of harassment, assault, and retaliation against victims who speak out and hold perpetrators accountable.”

Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

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Weekly polling roundup https://texassignal.com/weekly-polling-roundup/ Tue, 22 Sep 2020 19:27:39 +0000 https://texassignal.com/?p=31556 With only 42 days left until election day, here’s another update on the latest polls coming out of the Lone Star State.  A tight race between Biden and Trump The polls show a very close race in Texas at the presidential level, and there is a serious possibility that Joe Biden will be the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1976. A CBS/Yougov poll released on Sunday shows Trump ahead by only 2 points, while a poll by the Tyson Group shows Biden up by 4. Both polls surveyed likely voters. Overall, the 538 polling average has […]

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With only 42 days left until election day, here’s another update on the latest polls coming out of the Lone Star State. 

A tight race between Biden and Trump

The polls show a very close race in Texas at the presidential level, and there is a serious possibility that Joe Biden will be the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1976. A CBS/Yougov poll released on Sunday shows Trump ahead by only 2 points, while a poll by the Tyson Group shows Biden up by 4. Both polls surveyed likely voters. Overall, the 538 polling average has Trump ahead by less than a point in Texas, a far cry from 2016 when he won by 9 points. And given that the polls underestimated Democrats by about 3 points in 2016 and 4 points in the 2018 senate election, Trump cannot take Texas’ 38 electoral votes for granted even if he is slightly ahead.  

The senate race tightens 

The race between GOP incumbent Sen. John Cornyn and Democratic challenger MJ Hegar is beginning to mirror the presidential race. While Cornyn previously held a double digit lead earlier this month, the CBS/Yougov poll shows Hegar behind by 5 points and Tyson Group has her down by only 2 points. The latter poll shows Hegar within its 3 point margin of error. Cornyn, who has also suffered from low approval ratings throughout the campaign, is in the race of his life.

Good news in Texas’ 3rd congressional district 

An internal poll from the DCCC shows Democratic congressional candidate Lulu Seikaly only one point behind Rep. Van Taylor, 44-43. The same poll also found Biden ahead in the district. Texas’ 3rd congressional district, which covers suburban areas north of Dallas in Collin County, has been shifting toward the Democrats thanks to changing demographics.The daughter of Lebanese-American immigrants, Seikaly would be the first Arab-American from the Texas congressional delegation if she wins. 

Photo: SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images

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Podcast: Alex Simon of the Texas Democratic Party discusses voter registration https://texassignal.com/podcast-alex-simon-of-the-texas-democratic-party-discusses-voter-registration/ Tue, 22 Sep 2020 16:23:02 +0000 https://texassignal.com/?p=31553 For National Voter Registration Day, our very own contributing writer Joe Deshotel spoke with Alex Simon from the TDP about their three target voter groups, and the groundbreaking efforts to drive voters to the polls, including vote by mail. Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

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For National Voter Registration Day, our very own contributing writer Joe Deshotel spoke with Alex Simon from the TDP about their three target voter groups, and the groundbreaking efforts to drive voters to the polls, including vote by mail.

Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

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A key group mobilizes the AAPI community in Texas https://texassignal.com/a-key-group-mobilizes-the-aapi-community-in-texas/ Mon, 21 Sep 2020 22:23:06 +0000 https://texassignal.com/?p=31550 In the past decade, Texas has seen extraordinary demographic changes that have transformed the voting electorate. One group that is fueling those changes, and is often overlooked and seldom discussed, is the Asian American constituency. The AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Victory Fund hopes that changes, and their $1 million investment in Texas to increase Asian American turnout in November could deliver 38 electoral votes to Joe Biden, flip several congressional seats, and change the balance of power in the Texas House. According to Pew Research, Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the country. From 2012 […]

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In the past decade, Texas has seen extraordinary demographic changes that have transformed the voting electorate. One group that is fueling those changes, and is often overlooked and seldom discussed, is the Asian American constituency. The AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Victory Fund hopes that changes, and their $1 million investment in Texas to increase Asian American turnout in November could deliver 38 electoral votes to Joe Biden, flip several congressional seats, and change the balance of power in the Texas House.

According to Pew Research, Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the country. From 2012 to 2018, the number of eligible AAPI voters in Texas grew by a staggering 46 percent. They have also fueled changing trends in urban and suburban areas like Harris, Dallas, and Fort Bend County. The Asian American population in Collin County, which is shifting leftward, is now over 15 percent.

Last month the AAPI Victory Fund announced their seven-figure strategic investment in Texas, which includes the formation of the AAPI Texas Victory Committee, co-chaired by Sonal Shah, a former Obama White House Official and National Policy Director for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign, and David H. Lee, AAPI Victory Fund Board member. 

This investment is geared towards increased turnout. The AAPI Victory Fund is particularly focusing on the opportunity to flip the Texas House. “This was an investment in the future of Texas,” said Varun Nikore, President of the AAPI Victory Fund, in an interview with the Texas Signal.

Nikore also spoke about the tactical decisions involved with building an infrastructure that would remain in place after the 2020 Election. “We can create a pan-AAPI organization,” said Nikore.

For Nikore, one of the biggest roadblocks with creating political empowerment for the AAPI community is that sub-ethnicities tend to become siloed. As he explained, there might be strategic outreach to Chinese-Americans, but nothing towards Korean-Americans or South Asian Americans, or vice versa.

In addition to focusing on state legislative races with high AAPI populations, the AAPI Victory Fund also recently announced an additional round of congressional endorsements: Lulu Seikaly (TX-03) and Donna Imam (TX-31). Seikaly is challenging one-term congressman Van Taylor in a district that has the highest percentage of college-educated constituents that still votes Republican. Iman is challenging long-term Congressman John Carter in a central Texas district that includes the northern Austin suburbs.

Earlier this year, AAPI Victory Fund endorsed several Texas Democratic congressional challengers including Gina Ortiz Jones (TX-23), Sri Preston Kulkarni (TX-22), and Sima Ladjevardian (TX-02). There has yet to be an Asian-American member of Congress from Texas.

By focusing across the state, Nikore acknowledges the opportunity that an increasing AAPI population can bring well beyond November. When the Texas legislature convenes early next year, redistricting will be a major battle.

Additionally, Nikore and the AAPI Victory Fund hope that a strong Democratic turnout in Texas has further ramifications for a presidential nomination calendar. “When you look at the long view of Texas, what we are trying to gain also is an opportunity for Texas to move up in the Democratic primary calendar,” said Nikore.

Earlier this year, Texas was a part of Super Tuesday, and former Vice President Joe Biden’s primary win was a major reason why he secured the Democratic presidential nomination. The day before Super Tuesday, Biden was in Dallas, and was endorsed by former presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

The current nomination calendar, with Iowa and New Hampshire as the first two voting states, is extremely unreflective of the country as a whole. As the largest battleground state, the AAPI Victory Fund’s major investment in Texas will have a monumental impact beyond November. If Texas were to move up the presidential nomination calendar, it would allow communities across the country to truly have a better representation in the Democratic party.

 (Disclosure: David H. Lee is also the President of the Texas Signal.)

Photo: KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP via Getty Images

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Cornyn flip-flops on supporting Supreme Court nominees during election years https://texassignal.com/cornyn-flip-flops-on-supporting-supreme-court-nominees-during-election-years/ Mon, 21 Sep 2020 20:08:55 +0000 https://texassignal.com/?p=31547 With less than fifty days until Election Day, Sen. John Cornyn is signaling his intent to quickly fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away over the weekend.  It marks a change in Cornyn’s position from 2016 when he was staunchly against the nomination of Merrick Garland by President Barrack Obama. “At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, Texans and the American people deserve to have a say in the selection of the next lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” Cornyn said at the time. “The only way to empower the American people […]

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With less than fifty days until Election Day, Sen. John Cornyn is signaling his intent to quickly fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away over the weekend. 

It marks a change in Cornyn’s position from 2016 when he was staunchly against the nomination of Merrick Garland by President Barrack Obama.

“At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, Texans and the American people deserve to have a say in the selection of the next lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” Cornyn said at the time. “The only way to empower the American people and ensure they have a voice is for the next President to make the nomination to fill this vacancy.”

Ironically, in 2003 as a freshman senator, Cornyn urged Democrats to stop blocking President George W. Bush’s Supreme Court nominee. “It’s our obligation as senators and under the Constitution to give an up-or-down vote to any nominee who comes before the committee or before the Senate,” he said.

Cornyn’s Democratic opponent Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar has been pressuring the incumbent senator over his changing position.

On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats will use “use every arrow in our quiver” to block Trump’s nominee, but declined to give any further detail. 

It’s unclear what tools Democrats have left to block the nomination. In 2017, after Democrats attempted to block the nomination of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Senate Republicans proceeded to remove the 60-vote supermajority requirement for Supreme Court nominees.

That means Republicans would only need a simple majority of 51 votes to confirm Trump’s incoming nominee. Democrats would need at least four Republcian defections to successfully block the nomination. 

Some Democrats have floated the idea or been open to expanding the number of Supreme Court justices, most notably Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who said “nothing is off the table” when it comes to preventing another Republican justice.

Conversely, Pelosi said Democrats should focus on winning elections to regain control of the Senate and has said the House will not leverage a potential government shutdown in October to prevent the nomination. 
At least a dozen Republcian-held Senate seats are considered competitive in 2020, including Cornyn’s. Democrats would need a net of three seats to gain a majority in the Senate if Biden wins as the Vice President casts the tie-breaking vote. If Trump wins, the Democrats would need to gain four seats.

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

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