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Group Allied With Bernie Sanders Backs Texans in Local Races

Also, Nelda Laney, the wife of former House Speaker Pete Laney, was laid to rest on Tuesday in services at the Texas State Cemetery.

Vermont Senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters in Austin, Texas on Feb. 27, 2016.

In Texas, they’re feeling the Bern at the local level. 

A national group recently started by former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is getting involved in Texas politics.

Julie Ann Nitsch, a candidate for the Austin Community College Board of Trustees, announced Monday she has been endorsed by the group, Our Revolution. Nitsch was a Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention last month in Philadelphia.

Sanders, an Independent senator from Vermont, launched Our Revolution in an effort to boost candidates across the country who share the views that fueled his upstart challenge to Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic nominee.

According to the Our Revolution website, it is currently backing one other Texas candidate: Jared Cates, who is running for Nacogdoches county commissioner.

Meanwhile, Jim Hightower, the Austin-based progressive activist and former Texas agriculture commissioner, was one of 11 people named this week to the board of Our Revolution.

Hightower was an enthusiastic supporter of Sanders throughout the primary, stumping for him in a number of states.

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Nelda Laney was laid to rest at the Texas State Cemetery on Tuesday at a graveside service.

The burial was attended by scores of political people she had helped and influenced for decades. Laney, 73, married to former Texas House Speaker Pete Laney, D-Hale Center, succumbed to cancer last week. Several hundred people attended church services for her in Lubbock on Saturday.

Former First Lady Laura Bush, who worked with Laney on historical projects in Texas, was among her eulogists; former President and Gov. George W. Bush sat with the family during the short outdoor service on a warm humid morning in Austin.

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Gov. Greg Abbott has endorsed Dawn Buckingham, the Republican nominee for state Senate who faces a long-shot Democratic opponent in November.

“As a physician, mother, and small business owner, Dawn Buckingham understands the challenges that Texans face every day," Abbott said in a statement released Thursday afternoon by Buckingham's campaign. "She embodies conservative principles and will fight tirelessly for the Texans of Senate District 24, and I am proud to support her candidacy for the Texas Senate."

Buckingham, an Austin ophthalmologist, is up against Jennie Lou Leeder, a Democratic activist from Llano. Buckingham is favored to win in the solid-red district.

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Tim Kaine is coming back to Texas. The Democratic vice presidential nominee, who held two days of fundraisers earlier this month, is coming back next month for another round.

He’s set to attend a fundraiser in Houston on Sept. 22 with a pair of fundraisers set for Austin on Sept. 23.

The Tribune’s Patrick Svitek reported, “Tickets start at $500 for the Houston event and one of the Austin events, while it costs at least $10,000 to get in to the other Austin event.

“Hosts for the fundraisers are still being selected. The high-dollar event in Austin is at the home of Bonnie Mills, a member of the board of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas.”

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Pete Gallego has released his first TV ad in his rematch with U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio.

Gallego, a Democrat from Alpine, uses the 30-second spot to recall how while growing up, everyone was expected to pitch in at his family restaurant in West Texas. 

"I washed a lot of dishes — a lot of them," Gallego says, speaking to the camera from a kitchen with his son Nicolas behind him. "That's how we achieve the American Dream. It's going to take leaders working across the aisle to build an economy for everyone. so the next generation, like my son Nicolas, can own their own family business, work hard and achieve the American Dream too."

"Looking great, Nicolas," Gallego then says, turning to his son washing dishes at the sink. "Thanks, Dad!" Nicolas replies.

Gallego's campaign said Thursday morning the ad will "air on broadcast television in Texas' 23rd district." 

Hurd, who has a financial advantage over Gallego, launched his first TV ad earlier this month. He put out another spot Thursday, this one touting how much time he has spent in the district as a congressman. 

"I come home so often because traveling these 29 counties, I meet people who inspire me," Hurd says in the 30-second spot, going on to discuss the need to provide constituents with good-paying jobs, care for veterans and national security.

Disclosure: Planned Parenthood has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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