The Brief: Texas Political News for Nov. 25, 2013

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte speaking to press during a visit to a phone bank in Austin.
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte speaking to press during a visit to a phone bank in Austin.

The Big Conversation

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte launched her campaign for lite guv with a line of argument sure not to be repeated by her counterparts on the GOP side of the contest.

“Mama’s not happy with how things have been going lately. And when Mama’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy,” the San Antonio Democrat said, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman's Mike Ward.

It is not, of course, the normal formulation for a candidate throwing her hat in the ring for statewide office. But it signals Van de Putte's intention to take that irreverent tone known to Capitol observers out on the hustings. It's also a statement of purpose, reported John W. Gonzalez of the San Antonio Express-News, tying her latest political venture to the reasons why she ran for public office for the first time in 1990:

“'I didn't hear them talking about the things I knew about — small business, preventive health care and the power of early childhood development,' she said. ... 'We were having a family meeting to discuss with the kids what it would mean if Mommy ran for the Legislature,' she recalled. When her youngest child asked why her mom wanted to go to the Legislature, 'my oldest daughter said, straight out, "Because there's not enough mommies there,"' Van de Putte said."

The bigger picture question for Texas Democrats is how to take the top of their statewide ticket — Van de Putte and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis — and translate their appeal to women voters next fall.

The Texas Tribune's Alana Rocha reported that this month "the Democrats began an online mobilization effort to reach out to female voters and get them to promote the party’s platform to other women. 'It will be a woman-to-woman project to reach out and explain why it’s important to vote in this next election cycle and what issues are at stake,' [Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Tanene] Allison said, adding that the Democratic party had a 'strong connection to women’s priorities' on issues like equal pay, education and health care."

Part of the reason for Democrats' optimism is the suggestion that women voters, especially those in the suburbs, might be more inclined to look at a candidate other than the GOP one. Rocha noted that the most recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll — which showed Greg Abbott with a single-digit lead over Davis — registered that "25 percent of registered voters were undecided, including 34 percent of suburban women."

Rocha reported that Republicans are planning their own outreach effort to women voters. She talked to Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri, who said "the idea that female voters might be persuaded to vote differently based on women’s issues, like reproductive health, is a 'false assumption.' Women are just as interested in economic issues, and that plays well for Republicans ... Munisteri said staffers were working on their 'movers list,' following up with nearly 100,000 past Republican voters who are new to their counties and not yet registered to vote. Other workers were identifying swing voters, Munisteri said."

Culled

•    Stockman's filings don't explain his income (Houston Chronicle): "Both as a candidate and as a congressman, Rep. Steve Stockman of Clear Lake has failed to make federally required disclosures about business affiliations that stretch from Texas to the British Virgin Islands, and has provided no details about the business he claims as his sole source of income. Stockman returned to office in 2013 after 16 years away from Congress — crediting a low-budget, come-from-behind campaign to which he claimed to have lent more than $100,000 of his own money."

•    St. David’s, Blue Cross unable to agree on contract (Austin American-Statesman): "If the Hospital Corporation of America, St. David’s parent company, and Blue Cross cannot reach an agreement, then 4.9 million policyholders could be forced to pay higher costs if they want to get treatment at St. David’s. The lack of a contract also means limited choices for patients. Although officials for the insurer and the provider say the dispute is purely contractual, others suggested that the Affordable Care Act, or 'Obamacare,' is almost certainly a factor in the situation."

•    Texas reformers eye next effort in judicial reforms (Austin American-Statesman): "Few state controversies have been debated longer, with so little effect, than efforts to insulate Texas judges from the corrosive effects of money and politics. Even so, the debate will heat up again over the next year as a special committee of the Legislature tackles, once again, the vexing question of how best to select impartial judges in Texas — one of the minority of states that requires its judiciary to run in partisan elections."

•    Injured Worker's Firing Sparks Protest (The Texas Tribune): "Hoping to bring attention to the plight of workers who are hurt or killed at construction sites in Texas, protesters converged Saturday on a high-rise apartment project in Austin where they say an injured worker got fired after reporting the accident to federal authorities."

•    Catch lightning twice? Maybe not for Rick Perry (Houston Chronicle): "I want to jump on the bandwagon, but for now, it's hard to see another Perry race for the White House working out well. Even Perry's biggest fans acknowledge he has to be flawless, or nearly so, in order to win his way back from his ill-prepared run for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, which started with him riding high and ended badly."

Quote to Note: "To ask me — a business degree major from Texas Tech University — to distinguish whether the Earth cooled 4 billion years ago or 4.2 billion years ago for purposes of approving a textbook at 10:15 on a Thursday night is laughable." — State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff, expressing his dismay over last-minute objections brought against the treatment of evolution in a textbook by Pearson Education

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