OCT. 21, 2016
We’re here with your daily Blast. There are 18 days until Election Day, and early voting in Texas starts on Monday. Use this tool to find early voting locations…
Texas Democrats are paying it forward on efforts to win back the House… Thanks to redistricting, there is not one sitting Texas U.S. House Democrat in danger of losing his or her seat in November. So instead of airing television ads in their own districts, these eleven Texans are sending money from their own campaign war chests to protect and win seats elsewhere.
Texas Democrats have raised or donated nearly $2.3 million to help with the House race effort as of Sept. 30, according to internal party documents obtained by the Tribune.
Texans directed this money over the last two years to the individual incumbent and challenger campaigns and to the party's House campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Compared to Texas Republicans, that’s small change — it's only about one-fifth of what just the seven Texas chairmen raised for their party’s House campaign.
But the Texas contributions helped the DCCC enter October nearly matching its Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, in cash-on-hand funds as the campaign heads into the home stretch. 

And these numbers could well be larger — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is known to rally her members to give to the DCCC and colleagues over October caucus conference calls.
Here is how the Texas donations stack up, according to internal party records obtained by the Tribune: 

  • U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Houston: $11,000
  • U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Edinburg: $26,000
  • U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso: $32,500
  • U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston: $40,000
  • U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson: $136,400
  • U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo: $207,500
  • U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey D-Fort Worth: $274,049
  • U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston: $333,498
  • U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin: $345,400
  • U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio: $373,600
  • U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville: $506,400
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Doubling down on the lobbyist angle of attack in CD-23 contest… National Republicans are not backing off their claim that Texas congressional candidate Pete Gallego lobbied after leaving Congress two years ago.
"Pete Gallego said he doesn't like being called a lobbyist," a narrator says in a new ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a GOP super PAC. "Would he prefer 'influence peddler'? How about 'political insider'?"
"It doesn't matter what he calls it," the narrator continues. "After Congress, Gallego became just that."

Courtesy: Congressional Leadership Fund

Released Thursday, the commercial is the latest effort by the GOP to pounce on how Gallego, a Democrat from Alpine, made money after losing his seat to San Antonio Republican Will Hurd in 2014. Gallego has denied the claim, and PolitiFact Texas has rated it false.
Gallego is in a heated rematch with Hurd for the 23rd district, the only competitive congressional race this November in Texas. The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is aligned with the House GOP leadership, is just one of several outside groups spending millions to sway the outcome this fall.

Cruz, on the road again… U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is heading to Colorado next week to campaign for Senate candidate Darryl Glenn. 
Cruz will attend rallies for Glenn on Wednesday in Loveland and Denver, according to Glenn's campaign. Glenn, a county commissioner, is facing an uphill battle in his challenge to Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet.
Cruz's visit to Colorado will he his second out-of-state trip for a Senate hopeful in the general election. Cruz is dropping in on Nevada on Saturday to stump for U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, who's vying for an open Senate seat in one of the country's most closely watched races for the upper chamber.

District judge switches party affiliation to Democratic… State District Judge Lauren Parish announced Friday she will switch her political affiliation to Democratic, arguing she will not tolerate the antagonism and hatred promoted by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
"It is with a heavy heart that I've watched as the Republican nominee for president has made a mockery of our country and our citizenry," Parish said. "I have watched in horror as he has disavowed our military heroes, made fun of the disabled, divided our country among racial religious gender lines, expanded untruth after untruth, promoted violence and hatred, boasted sexual assault against women, and most recently attacked the entire integrity of our democratic process."
Parish is the district judge for Upshur and Marion counties, which are located in East Texas north of Longview.
In a press conference at the headquarters of the Texas Democratic Party, Parish said that while the office of a judge is nonpartisan and politics do not interfere in a judge's decisions, it is still an elected office and all judicial candidates must affiliate with a political party to be placed on the ballot.
Parish said that her Christian faith and family principles are more important to her than political party loyalty, and that the principles held by Abraham Lincoln's Grand Old Party no longer exist.
"I've watched the same level of instability and acrimony has filtered to even our local politics and I can no longer affiliate with a party that tolerates such hatred and antagonism," Parish said.
Parish's announcement comes just a few days after former Republican Justice Terry Jennings, of Texas' First Court of Appeals, said he was also changing his party's affiliation.

A fifth newspaper endorsement for third-party railroad commission hopeful… Mark Miller, the Libertarian candidate for railroad commissioner, continues to rack up the newspaper endorsements. This time, it’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which writes:
“Texans should buck two-party tradition and elect Libertarian Mark Miller, a former University of Texas at Austin petroleum engineering professor with deep oil and gas knowledge — but from a respectful distance.”

New ad in Harris County DA’s race highlights Soros involvement… Harris County DA Devon Anderson’s re-election campaign has made repeated reference to news reports from last week showing billionaire Democratic funder George Soros making a half-million dollar ad buy supporting Anderson’s Democratic challenger, Kim Ogg.
On Wednesday, the incumbent released a TV ad, “Ever Wonder?”, to highlight further the issue.

Courtesy: Friends of Devon Anderson

The DA’s contest — a rematch of the 2014 contest between the two women — is one of the most closely watched local down-ballot races this election cycle. A recent University of Houston poll indicates this contest has tightened considerably in recent weeks.


“I think sometimes a lady needs to be told when she’s being nasty.”

— U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, R-Woodville, adopting language first used by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump about Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in comments during a Thursday radio interview


Kevin Roberts, the Harris County Republican running for the open seat in HD-126, announced on Friday endorsements from the political arm of the Texas Association of Manufacturers and the C Club of Houston.
The Texas Workforce Commission released the latest employment figures for the state on Friday. Here are the topline numbers: 38,300 nonfarm jobs added in September with the unemployment rate edging up to 4.8 percent from 4.7 percent. By comparison, the national unemployment rate is 5 percent.


For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked about Donald Trump and his repeated suggestions that the current presidential election is rigged.
The insiders were split as to who might be sympathetic to Trump’s claims. Nearly three-fifths of the insiders thought the talk of a rigged election is making the electorate as a whole more suspicious of the results of the election.
But nearly four-fifths of the insiders said that Trump’s talk doesn’t diminish their own confidence in the legitimacy of the upcoming election.
We followed by asking about specific threats to the security of the election and how serious a threat each represented. Strong majorities didn’t view any of the listed threats — inaccurate counts, multiple votes cast, ineligible voters casting ballots and voting machine hacks — as being serious.
Twenty-nine percent thought that ineligible voters are either an extremely or somewhat serious threat while 23 percent thought hacked machines are an extremely or somewhat serious threat.
The final question dealt with reports of a voter fraud investigation underway in Tarrant County. We asked if the state is likely to uncover evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Most of the insiders were skeptical, with two-thirds choosing the response, “Don’t count on it.”
We collected comments along the way, and a full set of those is attached.

Emily Albracht

Does repeated talk of a rigged election make the electorate less confident in the security and legitimacy of this year’s presidential election?
• "Depends on your audience — always. The Trump folks love it, it adds layers of mistrust of government and works for their political agenda."
• "On the margins, yes. More importantly, the talk is likely to discourage some Trump supporters from voting at all, which calls into question the wisdom of making the claim before the election has actually happened."
• "The majority of Trump supporters already believe (possibly with some justification concerning certain policies) that things are rigged against them. So why not elections, too?"
• "It does, but, since the states run the elections, at least the corruption will be more efficient."

Emily Albracht

Are you less confident in the security and legitimacy of this year’s presidential election?
• "As a former election judge, I am very satisfied with the management of the elections. Although I strongly believe there should be a paper backup for each. This would not be hard to accomplish."
• "It's payback for the 2000 presidential election in which Bush, 'cough,' stole the election from Gore."
• "Obama has manipulated the NSA. Hillary has manipulated the FBI. The press has done everything in its power to manipulate the electorate. Why am I supposed to have confidence?"
• "The Russian interference is a cause for concern, but at this point that seems unlikely to make any difference in the result. Trump's vague theories are baseless, but his accusations themselves are harmful to legitimacy."

Emily Albracht

How serious a problem do you think each of the following will be in the 2016 elections?
• "There will be isolated incidences of voter fraud but nothing that is going to alter the trajectory of a statewide race, or in the case of the presidential election, 50 different statewide races."
• "This talk is all excuses from a failing campaign to shift blame from their candidate for his defeat or to try to depress turnout of opposition voters."
• "Apparently the best technique is to hack the voter files, so that eligible voters get turned away on Election Day. Also effective: standing outside polling stations with baseball bats."
• "I've been concerned about this for a long time. Doesn't seem that it would be complicated for a malicious, motivated hacker to crack the system."

Emily Albracht

The state is investigating allegations of voter fraud in Tarrant County. How likely is it the state uncovers evidence of widespread voter fraud?
• "I believe it happens, and I believe it's hard to prove."
• "Highly unlikely there is mass voter fraud in Texas. Much more likely is voter intimidation. Long history there."
• "Lon Burnam will stumble his way into being a tool of the Rs to expose non-existent voter fraud."
• "Define 'widespread.' Fraud is not that hard to find if you look hard enough. Whether it is widespread or not is another matter."
Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Brandon Alderete, Clyde Alexander, Jay Arnold, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Chris Britton, Raif Calvert, Lydia Camarillo, Elna Christopher, Harold Cook, Kevin Cooper, Randy Cubriel, Beth Cubriel, Denise Davis, June Deadrick, Tom Duffy, Richard Dyer, Jack Erskine, Gay Erwin, Tom Forbes, Dominic Giarratani, Machree Gibson, Bruce Gibson, Stephanie Gibson, Eric Glenn, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, John Greytok, Clint Hackney, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Deborah Ingersoll, Mark Jones, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Myra Leo, Ruben Longoria, Jason McElvaney, Steve Minick, Mike Moses, Keir Murray, Nelson Nease, Todd Olsen, Gardner Pate, Robert Peeler, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Richard Pineda, Allen Place, Gary Polland, Jay Pritchard, Jay Propes, Ted Melina Raab, Patrick Reinhart, David Reynolds, Carl Richie, A.J. Rodriguez, Grant Ruckel, Tyler Ruud, Jason Sabo, Andy Sansom, Barbara Schlief, Stan Schlueter, Robert Scott, Bruce Scott, Ben Sebree, Christopher Shields, Nancy Sims, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Mark Smith, Leonard Spearman, Dennis Speight, Tom Spilman, Sherry Sylvester, Sara Tays, Vicki Truitt, Corbin Van Arsdale, Chris Wallace, David White, Darren Whitehurst, Michael Williams, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.

And in other Texas Tribune news… a Texas congressman echoes Trump’s "nasty" language on Hillary… the head of CPS responds to calls from leadership for a plan to address problems at the child welfare agency, calls for 550 more caseworkers… and Texas is saying nyet to a Russian request to observe polling places... and, could Texas be undercounting its voting age population?

Thanks to Abby Livingston, Patrick Svitek and Elena Mejia Lutz for sending along tips for this afternoon’s note. Do you have items for The Blast? New job? A promotion? Tell us all about it. Send tips to theblast@texastribune.org.

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