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Wendy Davis returns to Texas politics by running for U.S. House seat
Davis, who became a national figure after a 2013 filibuster against new abortion restrictions, is running against U.S. Rep. Chip Roy for an Austin-area seat
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
AUSTIN (CFP) — Former Texas Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis, whose 2014 run for governor started with high hopes but ended in a crushing 20-point defeat, will run for the 21st District U.S. House seat in 2020 against freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Roy in the Austin suburbs.
She is the first high-profile Democrat to take on Roy, who finds himself on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s 2020 target list after winning the seat by less than 10,000 votes in 2018.
“I’ve learned I’m at my best when I’m fighting for people,” Davis said in a campaign video launching her campaign. “I’m running for Congress because people’s voices are still being silenced.”
Davis, 56, a Harvard-educated lawyer, shot to national fame in 2013 when, on the closing day of the Texas legislative session, she led a filibuster against a bill that would have imposed new restrictions on legal abortion, including a ban on elective abortions after 20 weeks.
While the filibuster succeeded in killing the bill, then-Gov. Rick Perry quickly called a special session, where the bill passed.
Davis, who wore pink sneakers during the filibuster, parlayed her notoriety into a race for governor the next year that galvanized Democratic activists around the country. She went on to lose to Republican Governor Greg Abbott by 20 points, carrying just 18 of the state’s 254 counties.
In the Texas Senate, she represented a Fort Worth district but later moved to the Austin area. The 21st District includes the southern suburbs of Austin, the northern suburbs of San Antonio and rural areas to the west.
Roy, 46, is a former federal prosecutor who before going to Congress worked for three of the most powerful figures in Texas GOP politics, Perry and U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.
Roy responded to Davis’s announcement on Twitter, saying that while her “radical & extreme views will no doubt excite the likes of Nancy Pelosi & other DC liberals,” he would “continue fighting for the hardworking families of #Tx21 & the commonsense values that make Texas everything Washington is not.”
Before Roy’s election in 2018, the 21st District seat had been held for 30 years by Republican U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, who repeatedly won re-election by comfortable margins. After Smith retired, Roy kept the seat in GOP hands but by less than 3 points.
The seat is one of six Republican-held seats in Texas that Democrats are targeting next year.
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Former Texas Governor Rick Perry picked to head Energy Department
Perry will lead agency he pledged to abolish during his presidential campaigns
♦By Rich Shumate, Chicken Fried Politics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — Former Texas Governor Rick Perry has been nominated to head the U.S. Department of Energy, despite his scathing criticism of President-elect Donald Trump when the two men battled for the Republican presidential nomination.
Perry had also pledged to eliminate the department during his two presidential campaigns, most notably in his infamous “ooops” moment during a 2011 debate when he was unable to remember Energy as one of the three departments he had pledged to abolish.
In a December 14 statement announcing Perry’s nomination, Trump said that Perry “created a business climate that produced millions of new jobs and lower energy prices in his state, and he will bring that same approach to our entire country.”
“My administration is going to make sure we take advantage of our huge natural resource deposits to make America energy independent and create vast new wealth for our nation, and Rick Perry is going to do an amazing job as the leader of that process,” Trump said.
In the same statement, Perry said he was “deeply humbled” to be nominated for the energy post.
“As the former governor of the nation’s largest energy producing state, I know American energy is critical to our economy and our security,” he said. “I look forward to engaging in a conversation about the development, stewardship and regulation of our energy resources, safeguarding our nuclear arsenal, and promoting an American energy policy that creates jobs and puts America first.”
Perry, 66, served 14 years as governor of Texas from 2000 to 2014, the longest tenure of any governor in state history. But he was unable to parlay that experience into a successful run for the White House in either 2012 or 2016.
During his campaign against Trump for the 2016 nomination, Perry called him a “cancer on conservatism” and said his campaign would lead the GOP to “perdition.” But last May, as Trump was poised to capture the nomination, Perry endorsed him, and he later campaigned for Trump.
As energy secretary, Perry would oversee a vast bureaucracy that runs the nation’s nuclear programs, markets power from federal hydroelectric projects and regulates the nation’s electric grid and natural gas pipelines.
The agency also has a research arm that, among other things, has conducted studies regarding climate change. Perry has said he does not think the science used by proponents of climate change to make their case that human activity is warming the planet is “settled,” and he has rejected the idea that carbon dioxide — a naturally occurring compound fundamental to human life — should be considered a pollutant.
Perry is also a supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that proponents of climate change have been fighting. President Obama stopped the final phase of that project in 2015; Trump has vowed to reverse that decision and let construction proceed.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham ends bid for GOP presidential nomination
Graham’s decision opens up political space for the February 20 South Carolina primary
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CFP) — Mired in single digits in the polls and relegated to the undercard in the Republican debates, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has ended his bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
But Graham, who made national security and the battle against ISIS the centerpiece of his White House run, said his campaign has changed the conversation within the Republican field on those issues, pushing the party toward a more hawkish stance.
“I got into this race to put forward a plan to win a war we cannot afford to lose and to turn back the tide of isolationism that was rising in our party,” he said in a YouTube video posted December 22 announcing his departure. “I believe we made enormous progress in this effort.”
Graham said most the Republican candidates have come around to his thinking on one issue in particular–the need to use American ground forces to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Graham’s departure allows him to take his name off the ballot for the South Carolina primary, avoiding what could have been an embarrassing defeat in his home state.
South Carolina will hold its pivotal presidential primary on February 20, less than two weeks after the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary. The vote in the Palmetto State will be the first test of strength in the South.
After his withdrawal announcement, Graham told CNN that he has no plans to endorse any of the other candidates in the field. However, his departure could free up Graham supporters in South Carolina to sign on with other candidates.
During the campaign, Graham has been a strong critic of GOP front-runner Donald Trump, which could give him a strong incentive to back another candidate who could defeat the real-estate magnate.
Graham, 60, won his third term in the Senate in 2014. He is one of the Senate’s strongest hawks on military and national security issues, but he has also run afoul of some conservatives in his party for supporting immigration reform and crossing the aisle to make bi-partisan deals with Democrats.
He is the third Southern Republican presidential candidate to exit the race so far, after former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
The remaining Southern GOP candidates are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jim Gilmore of Virginia.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal ends campaign for GOP presidential nomination
Jindal’s decision comes after he was unable to gain traction in the polls or a place in the top-tier debates
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — Saying it was “not my time,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has ended his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
“We spend a lot of time developing detailed policy papers, and given this crazy, unpredictable election season, clearly there just wasn’t a lot of interest in those policy papers,” Jindal said in a November 17 appearance on Fox News, where he announced he was suspending his campaign.
“Certainly, we thought it would end differently, but the reality is, this is not my time.”
Jindal, 44, whose term as Louisiana’s chief executive ends in January, said he will return to the think tank he founded, America Next, after he leaves office.
When he was elected in 2007, Jindal, a former congressman and official in the George W. Bush administration, was one of America’s youngest governors and was considered to be a rising star in the GOP.
But amid a budget crisis in Baton Rouge, Jindal saw his approval ratings back home plunge, and he was unable to get out of the low single digits in polling of the crowded Republican presidential field.
Jindal had been relegated to the second tier in the first three GOP debates.
Jindal becomes the second Southern Republican to exit the race, joining former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who left in September.
The remaining candidates are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jim Gilmore of Virginia.
Rick Perry bows out of 2016 White House race with veiled shot at Trump
Former Texas governor says “no room” for “nativist appeals” in GOP race
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
ST. LOUIS (CFP) — Four months before the first vote is cast, former Texas Governor Rick Perry has suspended his campaign for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination — but not before taking a veiled blast at front-runner Donald Trump over his negative comments about Latino immigrants.
“We cannot indulge nativist appeals that divide the nation further,” Perry said, without mentioning Trump by name. “There is no room for debate that denigrates certain people based on their heritage or their origin.”
“We can secure the border of this country and reform our immigration system without inflammatory rhetoric … Demeaning people of Hispanic heritage is not just ignorant, it betrays the example of Christ.”
Perry, who has languished near the bottom of the polls in the crowded GOP field, announced the end of his campaign September 11 in an appearance before the Eagle Forum, a conservative women’s group. The decision to drop out came after news reports that his campaign no longer had enough money to pay staff.
Saying “some things have become clear to me,” Perry went on to laud what he termed “a tremendous field of candidates.”
“I step aside knowing our party’s in good hands as long as we listen to the grassroots, listen to the cause of conservatism,” he said.
Perry, 65, a former Air Force officer who was a cotton farmer in West Texas before getting into politics, left office in January after serving 14 years as governor, the longest tenure in the state’s history.
This was his second try for the White House. He ran in 2012, entering the campaign as one of the favorites only to see his stock plummet after a series of of gaffes, including a moment in a debate when he could not remember the name of a federal agency he had previously pledged to abolish. He later blamed his faltering performance on lack of preparation and the aftereffects of back surgery.
Perry had hoped for political redemption in the 2016 race, but his candidacy never caught fire in the polls. He was one of the most outspoken critics of Trump, particularly over his assertions that many illegal migrants from Mexico were criminals.
Perry was one of nine Southern Republicans seeking the nomination. The other candidates are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jim Gilmore of Virginia; and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.
The lone Southern seeking the Democratic nomination is former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.
Watch video of Perry’s withdrawal announcement: