Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sen. Hutchison will vote 'no' on Judge Sonya Sotomayer

Senator Hutchison has announced that she will join Senator's Hatch and Cornyn by not supporting Judge Sonya Sotomayer in her bid for SCOTUS.

The Associated Press reports:
Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says she will vote against confirming Sonia Sotomayor to be a Supreme Court justice.

She said Tuesday she is concerned about Sotomayor's views on the Second Amendment on the right to bear arms. Hutchison is from Texas, where the population is more than a third Hispanic.

Sotomayor is expected to be confirmed as the first Hispanic justice of the high court.

Texas' junior senator, John Cornyn, voted against Sotomayor on Tuesday as the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination on a 13-6 vote and sent it to the full Senate.

Hutchison is seeking the 2010 GOP nomination for governor in Texas.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kay expands Campaign Staff, surpasses Perry's re-election team in growth

Gardner Shelby at the Austin American-Statesman just published an article about significant changes to Senator Hutchison's gubernatorial campaign staff.
Wiley and Sullivan said the change in leadership, finalized last week, was not in reaction to Hutchison losing ground to GOP Gov. Rick Perry in recent polls. Instead, the two said, the addition of new staff and consultants reflected timely growth in a campaign intent on making history.

“As with any campaign, you build as you go,” Sullivan said. “You don’t hit the ground with a full staff.

“This is big; this is going to be one of the biggest races the country has ever seen outside of a presidential race. This is a multi-dimensional campaign. We want to make sure we’ve got the firepower to win.”

Sullivan, 35, said he’s never managed a gubernatorial campaign. But he previously worked in Texas for Hutchison in 2005, leaving then only after Hutchison chose not to challenge Perry in 2006.

“It’s going to be fun to kick Rick Perry’s record around for the next seven months,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan managed Jim DeMint’s 2004 win of a Senate seat in South Carolina. Later, he coached various Senate campaigns before managing presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s effort in South Carolina in 2008.
Shelby also reports that Kay's campaign staff is larger than Governor Perry's re-election team and growing:
Hutchison’s campaign, which already exceeded the size of Perry’s operation, is also set to reveal other hires, which Wiley and Sullivan characterized as signs of a promising build-up rather than a troubling shake-up.

Two individuals will focus on communication with reporters and a third will be handling rapid response to incidents and sallies from Perry’s campaign. Over the past few weeks there has been great speculation about whether Kay should or would drop out of her bid for the Governorship. Shelby's report seems to indicate otherwise; instead Kay's campaign seems strong and organized.

Jeff Sadosky’s arrival as press secretary amounts to no surprise considering Hutchison’s campaign earlier this year retained Hans Klingler, formerly with the Republican Party of Texas, as communications director but didn’t immediately designate a press secretary entrusted with day-to-day reporter contacts. Sadosky took the campaign job this week after joining Hutchison’s Washington staff as communications director earlier this year.

The campaign’s new senior communications adviser, Jennifer Coxe-Baker, previously helped Mel Martinez of Florida win a Senate seat. She also was a spokeswoman for the Bush administration’s Secretary of Labor.

Joe Pounder, designated the deputy communications director, will focus on rapid response. He has worked for U.S. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the Republican Whip, for whom he composed this blog today, and Romney’s presidential campaign. (A reader forwarded this Pounder profile from Politico.com.

Sullivan said two Dallas-based consultants—already affiliated with Scott Howell, who’s handling Hutchison’s TV advertising—will play significant roles going forward. Heath Thompson, who was a regional political director in the Bush-Cheney campaign of 2004, will focus on strategy, while Todd Harris, who’s been a spokesman for Florida’s Jeb Bush, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sen. John McCain, will be a point person on communications. Harris was once called a “spinner extraordinaire” by “Roll Call,” the Washington newspaper.
The continued growth and organization of Kay's camp clearly shows she's ready to fight Governor Perry for the 2010 republican gubernatorial race. Here at KVR we agree with Shelby's assessment that this latest re-organization to her staff is not a shake-up, but rather a strategic build-up of experienced campaign staff. Hold on to your cowboy hat, it looks like Kay's kicking up dust and possibily running Rick outta town.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Report shows Perry lives in Luxury

Its no secret that Texas' longest serving governor lives in the lap of luxury. Today the Houston Chronicle released two lists that show gifts and travel paid provided to Governor Perry since his reign as governor began.

Gifts are nothing new to politicians. Its seen as kind of a perk, but the lists provided by the Chronicle are quite impressive.

Here is a quick excerpt from R.G. Ratcliffe's article in today's Houston Chronicle:

The taxpayers shell out $108,000 a year to rent him an estate west of Austin, and spend another $168,000 on chefs, stewards and housekeepers for the Perrys' creature comforts.

Piano maestro Van Cliburn once played at the Governor's Mansion for first lady Anita Perry's birthday. Dallas aerobics guru Dr. Kenneth Cooper once gave the governor free medical tests. Expensive gifts to Perry have included 16 pairs of custom-made boots, a pair of spurs, hunting trips, sports tickets and a football helmet signed by former Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith.

The perks of being governor are not unusual across the nation, and in many states, governors like Perry are also de facto head of state business recruitment.

Wealthy donors and corporate-funded foundations, for example, have flown him to the Bahamas for scuba diving, to Paris, Rome and Dubai for business promotion and to San Diego, Calif., for the one-time Texas A&M yell leader to attend an Aggies Muster for expatriate A&M graduates.

There was a trip to Istanbul for the Bilderberg conference hosted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. A trip to the Middle East had on its schedule meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Jordan's King Abdullah and a “breathtaking sunset cruise on the Red Sea.”

Governor Perry was honest about his role of attracting businesses to Texas -- making him the de facto Salesman for attracting and retaining businesses. Ratcliffe's article continues with:

Perry, who took office in 2000, said in a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle that his only motivation as governor is to affect public policy: “This is not about me. It's not about whatever the people would perceive as the perks of being governor ... I get to go do a job every day that makes a difference in people's lives. I find that very satisfying.”

Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle said the governor's amenities are like those of previous governors and others across the country.

“Texas is the tenth largest economy in the world. We're the number one exporting state. We have an economy that is an economic powerhouse,” Castle said. “Carrying that message to other countries, other leaders, business leaders, state leaders is an important mission.”

And what about travel you ask? Well, here's what Ratcliffe's article says about that:

[Allison] Castle noted that Perry's travel is not paid by taxpayers.

Texas One, a corporate-finance foundation, pays for much of Perry's business development travel. Other travel is paid for by his political committee or campaign donors. And some is financed as in-kind contributions from specific wealthy donors or interest groups.

Scuba diving was on the agenda in a controversial 2004 trip when beer distributor John Nau and investor Charles Tate, both of Houston, and San Antonio investor James Leininger paid $40,400 to fly Rick and Anita Perry and others on private jets to the Bahamas for a trip that included discussions of public education policy.

Houston's Gulf States Toyota owner Thomas Friedkin gave $9,000 in travel to Perry's campaign last year so the governor, his wife and daughter could spend two days in Key West for a fundraiser.

Perry and his wife leave this week for San Diego to raise money for his re-election. They visited San Diego this time last year, a trip that included a visit to the San Diego Chargers training camp.

Which reminds us here at KVR... the Dallas Cowboys will begin their training camp in San Antonio at the Alamodome on Tuesday. We hope Rick will at least send an envoy to the Cowboys while he visits with the Chargers in San Diego.

Click here for a list of Gifts provided to Governor Perry.

Click here for a list of travel/trips for Governor Perry paid for by others.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Perry threatens to invote 'States Rights' and reject federal Health Care

David Montgomery at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram includes comments from a WBAP interview with Governor Perry about the proposed national health care plan that is currently before Congress:

Interviewed by conservative talk show host Mark Davis of Dallas’ WBAP/820 AM, Perry said his first hope is that Congress will defeat the plan, which both Perry and Davis described as "Obama Care." But should it pass, Perry predicted that Texas and a "number" of states might resist the federal health mandate.

"I think you’ll hear states and governors standing up and saying 'no’ to this type of encroachment on the states with their healthcare," Perry said. "So my hope is that we never have to have that stand-up. But I’m certainly willing and ready for the fight if this administration continues to try to force their very expansive government philosophy down our collective throats."

"It really is a state issue, and if there was ever an argument for the 10th Amendment and for letting the states find a solution to their problems, this may be at the top of the class," Perry said. "A government-run healthcare system is financially unstable. It’s not the solution."

Texas has a higher percentage of uninsured people than any other state, with 1 in 4 Texans lacking health coverage. Dunkelberg, whose organization supports policies to help low- and modest-income Texans, said the House version would create a "predictable and comprehensive benefits package" for thousands of struggling middle-income Texans.

It seems that lately Governor Perry has been on a mission to challenge the federal government on constitutional grounds for states rights. We're not sure if this strategy is to build hype and a name for himself or put the states interests first.

With so many Texans uninsured, how would the State of Texas propose to cover health care alone?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Kay expected to make Big Announcement this afternoon in Dallas

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is expected to make a big announcement at 2pm today in Dallas regarding the financial status of her campaign and perhaps, as we say here in Texas, formally 'throw her hat in the ring' for the 2010 republican gubernatorial race.

Robert Wilonsky at the Texas Observer writes today:
"...her campaign communications director, Hans Klingler, just told Unfair Park: U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's going to be at Dallas County Republican Party HQ on N. Central Expressway to "announce when she's going to announce" her run for Texas governor. That's just a brief peek at her remarks, which she'll deliver at 2 p.m. today, as Hutchison comes home to also offer campaign supporters a look at the amount of dough she's raised thus far as she vies for Rick Perry's job. Perry yesterday announced he'd raised $4.2 million during just nine days in June.
Earlier this morning, Kay's campaign released a teaser YouTube video featuring Texans for Kay Statewide Finance Chairman John Nau. In the video Mr. Nau says:
I have raised money for many years here in Texas to support philanthropic and political causes. I've never seen an outpouring of support like we have witnessed for the last six months for Kay Bailey Hutchison. It is not only impressive, its exciting. I look forward to her announcing her candidacy and working hard, with many people across this state, to guarantee that she wins and becomes the governor of our great state of Texas.
We'll post information from KBH's 2pm announcement in Dallas as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, at least one Austin-based political reporter is crying foul over the location of Kay's announcement.
Gardner Selby at the Austin American-Statesman set his Twitter and Facebook status as:
Hutchison dodging Capitol press? She's huddling with Dallas press about finances today: http://budurl.com/3u3b #txlege #hutchison #rickperry
Sources tell us that we'll be able to watch Kay's announcement live via her website at http://texans.forkay.com/pages/livestream

We'll be live blogging the 2pm announcement here at http://www.kayvsrick.com

Thursday, July 9, 2009

UT Online Poll shows Perry leading Kay by 12 points

Jason Embry at the Austin American-Statesman reports this morning that:
Gov. Rick Perry leads U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison by 12 points among voters who say they intend to vote in the Republican primary next March, according to an online poll that the University of Texas at Austin will release today.

The numbers:

Perry: 38 percent

Hutchison: 26 percent

Undecided or supporting someone else: 34 percent

Among registered voters, Perry is up 38-27.

The poll — like others in recent weeks — shows a significant surge for Perry over the last several months. Consider that in the same poll released in March, Hutchison led 37 percent to 29 percent. At least for now, these numbers indicate that Perry’s aggressive anti-Washington stance in recent months has helped him considerably with GOP voters, and while Hutchison’s limited public engagement in the race has not.

At the same time, we must stress the election is eight months away and the campaign really has not fully begun.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sen. Hutchison spends Less on Travel than Cornyn

Texas taxpayers helped foot the bill for the $152,000 Cornyn's spent on chartered and commercial jets during the first half of 2009. In comparison, fellow Texas US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison spent $88,000, according to a KVUE news report by Elsie Hu.

"I don't know why he thinks he's so much better than you and I and get on Southwest like the rest of us do," said Tom "Smitty" Smith of Public Citizen Texas. "He claims to be a fiscal conservative. This to me is the worst of the tax and spend liberals in Congress."

But Cornyn says his flight expenses are necessary.

"Not every state is the same. When you represent a state as big as Texas and traveling home from Washington DC every weekend it unfortunately costs more money," he said.

Gov. Perry claims $9.3 Million in Campaign War Chest

Gardner Shelby at the Austin American-Statesman is reporting this afternoon that:

Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign revealed today that it ended June with $9.3 million cash on hand, having raised $4.2 million in the last nine days of the month, which was the only period this year that he could legally accept donations.

For the moment—and surely just for the moment—that means Texans for Rick Perry is reporting more cash on hand than Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s gubernatorial committee, which entered this year with nearly $8 million cash on hand, a tally that then outpaced Perry’s end-of-2008 cash balance of $6.6 million.

Hutchison’s campaign, which could legally raise money through the regular legislative session and post-session veto period, is widely expected to report much more cash on hand by the time all finance reports are due a week from today.

The two are expected to face off for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in March.

Today, Perry’s campaign didn’t release his full report and it disclosed no information on who precisely accounted for his end-of-month haul.

But broadly, the campaign said it had raised $4.23 million—including $454,094 online—from 1,076 donors from June 22-June 30, which it said nearly doubled the amount he collected over a similar time period after the 2005 regular legislative session. (UPDATE: By my math, the campaign’s contributions this June fell $455,410 short of doubling the $2,343,248 Perry’s campaign raised in the June period of 2005—about 10 percent shy of a doubling.)

Jim Lee of Houston, one of Perry’s state finance chairs, said: “This is a remarkable accomplishment and a ringing endorsement of Gov. Perry.” He noted that 95 percent of the contributors are from Texas, “showing that Texans continue to appreciate and value his leadership.”

The Austin American-Statesman is awaiting a response from Kay's campaign.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Perry releases statement on Palin through Campaign

Governor Rick Perry released a statement through his campaign on the sudden resignation of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
“Sarah Palin is a good friend and accomplished governor who will continue to be a strong voice of conservatism in American politics. Her state and our country are better off as a result of her tenure as governor and her candidacy for vice president.

“I expect she will continue to work on the issues facing our country as conservatives strive to undo the damage being done by an out-of-control congress and federal government.”
In February Mrs. Palin endorsed Governor Perry's re-election bid calling him a "true conservative". The Dallas Morning News highlighted Palin's endorsement on February 2nd:

"He walks the walk of a true conservative. And he sticks by his guns – and you know how I feel about guns," she said.

Palin cited one of the Perry campaign's top issues – opposition to federal financial bailouts. And she singled out Perry's opposition to abortion rights.

"Not every child is born into ideal circumstances, but every life is sacred," Palin said in the mail appeal. "Rick Perry knows this – it is at the core of his being."

Hutchison supports abortion rights, although with restrictions, including parental notification and a ban on certain late-term procedures.

While some have speculated that Palin's sudden resignation is a move towards a possible 2012 republican presidential nomination, we believe she's leaving because of emails that will soon be released from the State of Alaska.

MSNBC is reporting today that, thirteen requests for her e-mails, made under state records laws before the November 2008 presidential election, are still pending.
The records include e-mail sent between the governor and her staff not only on their official e-mail accounts but also on their private Yahoo accounts. Palin and many of her staff were using private accounts. But state courts since have ruled that the correspondence between government officials, about government business, are public records, whether they use their government e-mail accounts or private ones.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Kay's op-ed: 'Cautious Progress in Iraq'

Read Senator Hutchison's op-ed in today's Dallas Morning News about 'Cautious Progress in Iraq'.

I recently had the opportunity to celebrate the Fourth of July early and in a unique way. This year, on the eve of our nation's Independence Day, I was in Baghdad, thanking those who are protecting the freedom that we celebrate on July Fourth. There in Iraq, I was privileged to visit the Texans who embody the same patriotism as the American soldiers who won our nation's freedom 233 years ago.

I spent the Senate's July Fourth recess traveling to Iraq so I could carry a very clear message to those who were not able to spend the holiday at home with their families: The American people are completely behind our troops, and we are deeply grateful for their brave service. Our nation would not know freedom without their sacrifice.

The soldiers of the Texas National Guard warmly welcomed me and made me prouder than ever to be a Texan. I am happy to report that Texas troops are exhibiting our state's indomitable spirit of pride and optimism as they serve overseas. Their energy was infectious, and their attitudes were uplifting.

As America undertakes its first major deadline for drawdown of forces, I also wanted to be there on the ground to see this process begin to unfold and to hear from our commanders how it is being executed. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commanding general of multinational forces in Iraq, and Christopher R. Hill, American ambassador to Iraq, outlined for me their vision of the way forward.

On June 30, we reached a key milestone. U.S. forces completed a process that began last January of transferring responsibility for patrolling Iraqi cities to the Iraqi Army. Primarily, American soldiers will fall back to the outskirts of the cities, where they will remain ready to provide training and support.

I hope the Iraqis will be successful and build on the progress we've already made. The indicators for security gains are mostly trending in the right direction. However, there are troubling variables that we must monitor closely, such as resurgence of sectarian violence and the continued malevolent Iranian involvement in Iraqi affairs.

The Iraqis can be assured that, if there is trouble, the American forces will not be far. We did not invest so much – in American lives and treasure – to see progress languish. Our soldiers stand at the ready as needed.

Odierno and Hill assured me that the full drawdown of our troops will be gradual. Iraq must remain stable so next January's elections can be fair and peaceful and the logistically complex drawdown process can continue apace. In deliberate, calculated steps, we will start to close down base operations in Iraq. Equipment will be refurbished or repaired and sent to support our missions in Afghanistan or elsewhere in the world.

The commanders on the ground assured me that we have a solid plan, supported by the world's finest military. It is in all our best interests that America withdraws in an orderly fashion so that the end result of our efforts in Iraq is greater stability in the region, as well as an Iraq that never again serves as a base for terrorist operations.

My visit with our troops left me hopeful and optimistic for the future of Iraq. Moreover, I returned to Texas thankful that we have such dedicated and selfless young men and women as those I met from Texas who are, even now, serving on the frontlines.

Kay Bailey Hutchison is the senior U.S. senator from Texas and may be reached through www.hutchison.senate.gov.

An op-ed in a major Texas newspaper was a great way to reach out to Texans and share details about her trip to Iraq. We give her an A+ for the effort and content of today's op-ed.

What are your thoughts on Kay's op-ed? Comment below.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Perry Goofs on History of 140 Day Legislative Sessions

Last night, Peggy Fikac of the Houston Chronicle quoted Governor Perry on the subject of the Special Session that begins today:
Perry, who faces what’s expected to be a tough GOP primary against U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, cited Texas’ “founding fathers” and the biennial regular session schedule when asked why he wants the special session to be short.

“Do we want to have long legislative sessions? No. The founding fathers said 140 days every other year. Get ’em in, get ’em out, get your work done. Bada bing, bada boom,” he said.

It seems that Governor Perry is lacking in his Texas History. According to the Handbook of Texas Online, it wasn't until 1960 that the Texas Legislature implemented the first constitutional limit on the duration of regular sessions (140 days).

Here at KVR we might consider referring to Stephen F. Austin and company as "Founding Fathers", but not legislators from the late 1950's and early 1960's.

It is odd that Mr. Perry, who was elected in 1984 as a Democrat to the Texas House of Representatives, later elected as the Lieutenant Governor in 1998, and has been Governor since December 21, 2000 seems to have no idea about the history of the 140 day duration for the Texas Legislature.

The Cost of the Texas Legislature

How much does the Legislature Cost you ask?

R. G. Ratcliffe highlighted the cost of legislative sessions in Texas in a Houston Chronicle article on June 14, 2009. Here's what Ratcliffe found:

How Much Then & Now

  • The cost of a legislative session in 1963: $2.9 million
  • The cost of the 140-day session that ended June 1: $9.1 million
How Much the Legislature Costs Annually
  • Annual cost per year to operate the Texas legislature including nearly 1,1800 people on staff: $171.5 million
Biggest Costs for the 2009 Regular Legislative Session
  • $4.9 million spent to hire 402 House and Senate sergeants at arms, clerks, researchers, proofreaders and staff photographers
  • An additional $4.2 million paid to the 181 legislators as living expenses on top of the $1.3 million spent on their annual salaries
This morning, Mike Ward at the Austin American Statesman included the agenda for the Special Session that begins today:
Continuing the operations of the state's transportation, insurance and racing commissions plus two smaller agencies; authorizing $2 billion in road-building bonds that voters have approved; and continuing the authority of the Texas Department of Transportation to negotiate private-public deals to build toll roads.