Politics | KERA News

Politics

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

Ana Flores can vote for the first time this year. The 18-year-old lives in Houston with her mom. Like many young people who just got the right to vote, she was curious about what it would be like.

“I just wanted to try it out," she said, "see how it would feel for the first time.”

Gabriel C. Perez / KUT News

More than 4.8 million Texans cast their ballot in person or by mail during the early voting period.

At the end of early voting on Friday, turnout in the state's largest counties surpassed the entire turnout of the 2014 midterm election. But that doesn't mean you don't need to vote — Election Day is Tuesday.

Sessions: J. Scott Applewhite, AP; Allred: Chris Connelly, KERA News

In North Texas’ most heated congressional race, health care has become the dominant issue. Longtime Republican Rep. Pete Sessions is facing his toughest political challenge in years from Democrat and civil rights lawyer Colin Allred for his North Dallas seat. And the two candidates and their supporters are spending millions of dollars on ads to paint the other guy as a bad choice.

So where do the two stand?

Updated at 6:43 p.m. ET

President Trump delivered a White House broadside against illegal immigration Thursday, underscoring what has become his central focus in the final days of the midterm election campaign.

From Texas Standard:

This political season in Texas, yard signs have been at the center of stories that sound straight out of The Onion. There’s the couple who turned their front lawn into a giant, hand-painted Beto O’Rourke sign. Or the anti-Brett Kavanaugh sign in Hamilton that police threatened to confiscate after Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller posted about it on Facebook. Our Texas Decides series continues with a listener question you might call a sign of the times.

Campaign websites

Republican Deanna Metzger is something of a rarity this election cycle.

Democrats appear confident they'll take back the House majority next Tuesday — a fact top Republican strategists all but concede privately less than a week before Election Day.

"Up until today I would have said if the election was held today we would win. Now I'm saying we will win," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday night on CBS's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

Months before he was arrested on allegations of mailing bombs to several prominent Democrats, Cesar Sayoc sent threatening messages over Facebook to U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, a spokesman for O'Rourke's U.S. Senate campaign confirmed Wednesday.

Updated at 8:28 p.m. ET

President Trump is back in campaign mode and immigration is a key talking point for him, even as his recent comments have exposed divisions within the Republican Party.

After a brief pause to pay respects to victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, Trump hosted a political rally in Fort Myers, Fla., on Wednesday. It's one of 11 campaign rallies the president will hold in the next six days, in a furious final sprint to next week's midterm elections.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

In past elections, Texas’ tea party groups have played a visible role, generating grassroots enthusiasm among Republicans who want less government and lower taxes. But this year, especially compared with Democratic activists, tea partyers are playing a less conspicuous role.

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When football quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem in 2016, his intention was to protest racial injustice in America.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Emily Albracht for the Texas Tribune

In the minds of Texas voters — and conservative voters in particular — immigration and border security remain the top issues facing the state, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Updated at 5:35 p.m. ET

House Speaker Paul Ryan pushed back on Tuesday on President Trump's claim that he can strip birthright citizenship from the U.S. via executive order, saying such a move would be "unconstitutional."

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

President Trump traveled to Pittsburgh Tuesday, to pay tribute to the victims of a weekend massacre that claimed the lives of 11 worshipers at a synagogue. It also came on the same day mourners began to bury loved ones and demonstrators took to the streets to protest Trump's presence.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Elections for local prosecutors are traditionally pretty sleepy affairs, and historically, candidates have competed to show how tough they are on crime. But this year, the race to become Dallas County district attorney is bucking those trends as both candidates seek to portray themselves as changemakers working to make the criminal justice system fairer, rather than tougher.

Abby Livingston / The Texas Tribune

FORT WORTH - Long before most Texans had ever heard of Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke's bid to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Planned Parenthood organizers saw something unusual happen in the winter of 2017: Their annual Fort Worth fundraising luncheon sold out.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been charging a record number of people with committing voter fraud, an effort his critics decry as an intimidation campaign designed to discourage minority voters from casting ballots.

In 2018 alone, Paxton's office has prosecuted "33 defendants for a total of 97 election fraud violations," compared with a total of 97 prosecutions on similar charges for the 12-year period between 2005 and 2017, according to a release this month from Paxton's office.

Reports Of Voter Intimidation At Polling Places In Texas

Oct 26, 2018
David Koenig / AP

Tempers are flaring during early voting in Dallas County, and reports of voter intimidation are on the rise. The county’s nonpartisan election administrator said that the harassment — including name-calling and interrogating voters waiting in line — is the worst she’s seen in decades.

Updated at 8:55 p.m. ET

President Trump welcomed the arrest of a suspect behind a series of homemade pipe bombs Friday, just hours after he appeared to cast doubt on the threat posed by suspicious packages sent to prominent Democrats and CNN.

The mixed messages were characteristic of Trump's whiplash week, in which he toggled between calls for national unity and partisan attacks on the news media.

Robin Jerstad: Cruz/Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson: O'Rourke

More than $100 million has now been raised for the U.S. Senate race in Texas.

Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News/POOL / Emily Albracht for the Texas Tribune

Republican Ted Cruz leads Democrat Beto O’Rourke 51 percent to 45 percent in the Texas race for the U.S. Senate, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Libertarian Neal Dikeman was the choice of 2 percent of likely voters and another 2 percent said they would vote for someone else.

Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church

Terry Turner lives at the intersection of religion, history and politics. The pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church comes out of the deep traditions of the African-American church, and he's past president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

This election really is about Donald Trump.

Roughly two-thirds of voters say President Trump is a factor (either major or minor) in their vote in this year's midterms, far more than said so in 2014 about then-President Barack Obama, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

From Texas Standard:

We're just 12 days away from Election Day, and four days into early voting across the Lone Star State. Many polling places are reporting record early-voting turnout. Sharon Navarro, a professor of political science at University of Texas at San Antonio, says that shows voters are energized this year.

From Texas Standard:

From the gridlock in Washington, to actual physical clashes between protestors on the streets of Portland, and now a series of what appear on the face of it politically-motivated bomb scares. The party lines seem more entrenched than ever. Indeed, several experts told the Texas Standard just last month – the political center just isn't holding.

Updated at 11:48 a.m. ET

The list of prominent people, eight and counting, who were sent suspicious packages reads like a Trump enemies list, politicians and Trump critics who are often targeted in his rally speeches and tweets.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera: Huffines/Robert Hart: Johnson

DALLAS — Four years ago, state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, claimed victory in a nail-biter of a GOP primary race against incumbent John Carona, ousting a fellow Republican who had served a whopping six terms in the Texas Senate.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera: O'Rourke/Robin Jerstad: Cruz

Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz leads U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, by 5 percentage points among likely voters in a new Ipsos online poll released Wednesday in conjunction with Reuters and the University of Virginia. A September Ipsos poll showed O’Rourke ahead of Cruz by 2 percentage points among likely voters.

From Marfa Public Radio:

Senate candidates from Texas, Ted Cruz and Beto O'Rourke, have spent a lot of time discussing their stances on immigration, health care and the economy while on the campaign trail. But the environment is a topic that is seldom discussed.  

That's why Jon Gergen, a retired listener from Plano, asked Texas Decides: "Specifically what policies Mr. Cruz and Mr. O’Rourke are for, or against, to deal with what I perceive most of the scientific community believes is a severe climate problem."

Burton and Powell campaigns / Facebook

The closest state Senate race in Texas may be in Tarrant County’s District 10, where Democrat Beverly Powell is running to try to unseat Republican state Sen. Konni Burton.

Democrats hope to chip away at Republican control in Austin and reclaim a seat once held by Wendy Davis. Republicans want to keep one of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s most loyal lieutenants and tea party activists in Austin.

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