The Brief: Top Texas News for Feb. 26, 2013

The Big Conversation

National Democrats' most concerted push yet to turn Texas blue is now under way. 

A new group aiming to spend up to tens of millions of dollars to help turn Texas Democratic officially launched today, announcing new leadership and a campaign website.

The organization, dubbed Battleground Texas, hopes to mobilize the state's growing Hispanic population, as well as other minorities, young people and progressive groups, in hopes of delivering the state's coveted 38 electoral votes to future Democratic presidential candidates and aiding Democrats running for statewide office, as Politico first reported last month. Texas hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994.

"With its size and diversity, Texas ought to be a place where local races are hotly-contested and anyone who wants to be President has to compete," Jeremy Bird, a former national field director for the Obama campaign who will advise the new group, said in a statement. (According to the group's Twitter page, Bird will appear on The Colbert Report tonight to discuss the organization.)

Jenn Brown, a former Obama campaign Ohio field director, will serve as the group's executive director, and Christina Gomez, a former digital strategist for the Democratic National Committee and former Texas Capitol staffer, has signed on as digital director.

The effort's launch comes as a spate of media reports have focused on early polling showing Hillary Clinton leading several potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates in Texas. 

In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, however, Gov. Rick Perry batted down the possibility of Texas ever leaving the Republican column. "The University of Texas will change its colors to maroon and white before Texas goes purple, much less blue," Perry said.

Culled

•    Supreme Court justices rip S.A. prosecutor (San Antonio Express-News): "In a rare move, two U.S. Supreme Court justices today called out a federal prosecutor in San Antonio for what they called a racially charged comment he made while cross-examining a black defendant in a drug trial in 2011. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer released the statement as part of the court's decision not to hear the defendant's appeal, making clear that despite the ruling, they didn't tolerate the remark."

•    Voting rights case has Texas implications (Austin American-Statesman): "Race and politics are at the center of a major case with Texas implications that’s scheduled to be heard Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court. Although it originated in north-central Alabama, the case of Shelby County v. Holder holds potentially profound consequences for politics and civil rights in Texas, a state where minority groups taken together now outnumber whites."

•    Sen. John Cornyn’s tweet about illegal immigrants crossing border nightly draws skepticism (The Dallas Morning News): "Sen. John Cornyn raised the specter last week that illegal immigrants are pouring across the Mexican border — 300 per night in one spot, a rate that would command high-level attention in Washington and probably steer the debate over immigration policy and border security. 'Friend on border sez 300 ppl coming across his property every night. And Napolitano sez border is under control?' Cornyn wrote on his Twitter account, referring to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Cornyn aides have declined for several days to identity the senator’s friend or his location or provide any other substantiation. The senator has more than 37,000 followers on the social media service, and dozens have helped spread the comment."

•    GOP Congressman: Obama Using Twitter Spambots to Push Gun Control (National Review): "Congressman Steve Stockman (R., Texas) accused President Obama's gun-control campaign of using Twitter bots to flood Republican lawmakers and give the illusion of widespread support for the president. 'Obama's anti-gun campaign is a fraud,' Stockman said. 'Obama’s supporters are panicking and willing to do anything to create the appearance of popular support, even if it means trying to defraud Congress.'"

Quote of the Day: "Ted Cruz would be in the majority." — U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to The New York Times on what Democrats might have feared most if Republicans had gained control of the Senate in 2012

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