Tuesday, June 30, 2015

All state and higher ed employees and state retirees are now eligible to enroll their spouse for benefit coverage. Newly...

Posted by Kirk Watson on Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A salon in Seattle ships their waste, hair and all, to a recycling facility. The hair is used as "hair blooms" to soak up oil. Pretty neat!

Posted by The KVUE Insider on Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On the first day of legal same-sex marriage, more than 630 same-sex couples were issued marriage licenses in 10 of the...

Posted by Texas Tribune on Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court handed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton a win over a lawsuit on EPA regulations, but it also...

Posted by Texas Tribune on Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

After comments he made on Facebook went viral, Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman gave a radio interview in which...

Posted by Austin American-Statesman on Monday, June 29, 2015

State Sen. Joan Huffman pushed hard for a spousal loophole that would have kept lawmakers from having to reveal the...

Posted by Texas Tribune on Monday, June 29, 2015

Buying time: an update on today's Supreme Court decision. Andrea Grimes reports from Texas:

Posted by RH Reality Check on Monday, June 29, 2015

The United States Supreme Court ordered Texas' new abortion laws to be put on hold while a group of petitioners including abortion clinics and doctors can file an appeal to the high court.

Posted by The KVUE Insider on Monday, June 29, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

This sobering animation illustrates 15,790 slave ships making their grim transcontinental voyages over a period of 315 years.

Posted by Teaching Tolerance on Sunday, June 28, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage across the country on Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told...

Posted by Houston Chronicle on Friday, June 26, 2015

On the Statesman Viewpoints blog, a response to responses from Texas' governor and attorney general following...

Posted by Austin American-Statesman on Friday, June 26, 2015

"It is a real stretch to claim that religious freedom is somehow threatened if others don’t follow the laws of your...

Posted by Texas Tribune on Friday, June 26, 2015

Candidate McVey: Fresh Face, Ideas In Mayor's Race - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Candidate McVey: Fresh Face, Ideas In Mayor's Race - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Thursday, June 25, 2015

“This session, I learned that pretty much the only thing protecting my body from the full force of anti-choice wrath is...

Posted by RH Reality Check on Thursday, June 25, 2015

There's an outbreak of cyclospora in Travis County. It's an illness that comes from parasites, and there are now 31 confirmed cases.

Posted by myFOXaustin on Thursday, June 25, 2015

Previously, Hawaii's public schools were not required to teach sex education at all. That changes starting this fall:

Posted by RH Reality Check on Thursday, June 25, 2015

New 'Smart Condom' Changes Color When Hit By STD: Yellow For Herpes, Blue For Syphilis... | Angie Martinez on Power 105.1 FM

New 'Smart Condom' Changes Color When Hit By STD: Yellow For Herpes, Blue For Syphilis... | Angie Martinez on Power 105.1 FM

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mad Women of Smoking Hot Politics 06/24 by Mad Women of Smoking Hot Politics | Politics Podcasts

Mad Women of Smoking Hot Politics 06/24 by Mad Women of Smoking Hot Politics | Politics Podcasts

Sean Hughes, Director of Corporate Affairs for Coach USA and Megabus, said that if the commission does not approve the plan, Megabus will consider ending service in Austin.

Posted by The KVUE Insider on Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

After Vandalism, UT to Weigh Confederate Statues' Future

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

On the same day that three statues commemorating Confederate leaders were vandalized at the University of Texas at Austin, campus leaders said they may soon decide whether to remove the statues. 

UT-Austin President Greg Fenves announced on Tuesday that he has formed a task force to study the issue. That committee will likely recommend a plan to Fenves this summer. For months, many students have been calling for the statues to come down. That idea has picked up support since the fatal shooting of nine people inside a black church in South Carolina last week sparked national debate about Confederate symbols across the South. 

“This is a passionate issue,” UT-Austin Vice President of Diversity Gregory Vincent, who will chair the task force, said at a press conference. “It strikes at the core of what does history mean, and what does it mean today to live in a diverse society.”

The committee’s full membership won’t be announced until Wednesday.

“I deeply understand the concerns of our students who have raised the issue,” Fenves said in a statement. “I have been working closely with them to consider the range of options that recognize the impact that statue has on our students and the need for us to understand and learn from our history.”

There are three statues commemorating Confederate leaders on UT’s South Mall. In March, the school’s elected student assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution asking administrators to remove the most controversial one, of Confederate president Jefferson Davis.

That statue, plus ones of generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, were tagged with the words “Black Lives Matter” overnight Monday. The Davis graffiti also contained the phrase “Bump All the Chumps.” Maintenance workers had removed the red paint by Tuesday afternoon.

That graffiti has been accompanied by more formal outcry. An online petition asking for the removal of the Davis’ statue collected more than 1,500 signature within 24 hours Sunday.

Vincent said his committee will work to ensure that “all voices are heard” before a decision is made. He compared the process to one that took place when the school renamed a dorm originally named for a former UT law professor and Ku Klux Klan organizer William Stewart Simkins. The dorm is now called Creekside Residence Hall.

Vincent declined to say whether he thought the statue should be removed, saying he didn’t want to influence the task force. But he said he was opposed to vandalizing the statues in the meantime.  

“There are other means to get your point across,” he said. 

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2015/06/23/confederate-statues-vandalized-ut-campus/.

Van de Putte Company Dropping Confederate Flags

As major retailers abandoned sales of Confederate flag merchandise in the wake of the South Carolina church massacre, Pete Van de Putte — owner of Dixie Flag Manufacturing Company and husband of former state Senator and San Antonio mayoral candidate Leticia Van de Putte — eventually decided Tuesday that his company will stop selling the Civil War flag.

When first contacted Tuesday, Van de Putte said he had no plans to stop manufacturing the Confederate banner. Later in the day, however, he said "we've decided as an industry we don't need to fuel this fire. We're taking the product out completely."

Van de Putte said Dixie Flag will remove the flags immediately from the San Antonio store and its website.

Van de Putte's wife ran unsuccessfully last year for lieutenant governor as a Democrat. Earlier this month, she narrowly lost the runoff for mayor of San Antonio, a race in which her husband's flag-making store was briefly an issue. The San Antonio Express-News reported the business had more than$100,000 in tax liens over the past five years, an issue Pete Van de Putte said he fully resolved in the lead-up to the election.

Retail powerhouses Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Sears have announced over the last few days that they will discontinue Confederate memorabilia as pressure mounts to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina's Capitol following the murder of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston.

Yet sales of Confederate flags at Dixie Flag have jumped, Van de Putte said, and the store sold about 25 flags in one day compared to usual sales of about four a week.

"If you have one of those flags you might want to hang onto it because you won't be able to find one made in the U.S.," Van de Putte said.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2015/06/23/san-antonio-company-stop-selling-confederate-flags/.

The Brief: Abbott Appoints Chair of Board of Education

The Big Conversation

The Texas State Board of Education, which oversees curriculum and textbooks for more than 5 million students, has a new leader.

Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed Donna Bahorich — a social conservative who's worked for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — to chair the 15-member board. Bahorich has served on the board since 2013, sitting on committees whose responsibilities include charter school issues, certification and long-range plans for public schools.

The Tribune's Liz Crampton has more on Abbott's appointee — and why she drew some criticism:

Bahorich, who usually votes with the board's social conservative bloc, has close ties to Patrick. She was his campaign manager during his first run for the state Senate seat in 2006. After that, she served on Patrick's staff in varying roles including district director, campaign treasurer and communications director.

Board member Thomas Ratliff, a governmental relations consultant and lobbyist from Mount Pleasant, said he was disappointed to hear of Bahorich's appointment. Ratliff said he believes she does not have enough experience with public schools to qualify her for the job.

"She's a nice lady and a hard worker and I think her heart's in the right place," Ratliff said. "I just think it ought to be a fundamental requirement on the state board for someone to have had kids in public school."

But state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, said in a statement that Bahorich's "commitment to our education system is admirable and the state will be well-served by her chairing the board."

Trib Must-Reads

Capitol May Finally Get African-American Monument, by Aman Batheja — After more than 20 years of efforts to place a monument to African-Americans on Capitol grounds "littered" with Confederate tributes, state lawmakers have approved $1.5 million that should bring the African American Texans Memorial Monument to fruition.

Law Allows More College Credits for High Schoolers, by Matthew Watkins — High school advanced placement students should be able to earn more college credits under a bill signed by Gov. Greg Abbott this month, a change that will save students and universities millions of dollars.

Cruz: Pray Supreme Court Doesn't Legalize Gay Marriage, by Abby Livingston — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz used the imminent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage to make his case to a socially conservative group on Thursday.

Prosecutor: Grand Jury to Hear Paxton Case in July, by Patrick Svitek – A case against Attorney General Ken Paxton is heading to a grand jury next month, according to one of the special prosecutors investigating him.

Ag Commission Rolls Back Ban on Deep Fryers, Soda Machines, by Liz Crampton — Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on Thursday restored the option for public schools to serve certain fried foods and soda by lifting a decade-old statewide ban on deep fryers and soda machines.

George P. Bush Steps Into Role as Dad's Surrogate, by Patrick Svitek — Land Commissioner George P. Bush made his debut this week as a surrogate for his dad's presidential campaign. The younger Bush hit the campaign trail in early-voting Nevada, making a pitch for his father in personal and political terms.

Supreme Court: Texas Can Ban Confederate License Plates, by Aman Batheja — In a 5-4 ruling released Thursday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court backed Texas’ decision to forbid specialty license plates sporting an image of the Confederate flag.

Law Extends Electric Bill Help for Poor Texans, by Jim Malewitz — Low-income Texans can enjoy a discount on their electricity bills for a little longer. Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday signed legislation ensuring that the remaining balance of the state’s “System Benefit Fund” would go toward that purpose.

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at 12:45 p.m. at the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce's 35th Annual Award Luncheon

•    Abbott has a Sunday deadline to veto the bills lawmakers passed in the 2015 session. Anything he doesn't veto automatically becomes law.


Supreme Court Says Texas Can Reject Confederate Flag License Plates, The New York Times

Texas’ specialty license plates have raised nearly $200 million since 1994; here’s a look at the numbers, The Dallas Morning News

More Texas abortion clinics on verge of closing, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Ag commissioner’s anti-obesity strategy frees schools to deep-fry, San Antonio Express-News

Perry moves up in latest Iowa caucus poll, The Dallas Morning News

Wal-Mart calls state liquor laws discriminatory, Austin American-Statesman

Houston legislator recalls fight for Juneteenth holiday, Houston Chronicle

Regent's fight with UT could reignite with lawsuit, The Dallas Morning News

Tom Benson found competent to rule estate, San Antonio Express-News

FreedomWorks head leaves for Rand Paul PAC amid turmoil, Politico

Quote to Note

 "Make no mistake. You're going to see a lot of Bushes."

George P. Bush telling an audience in Reno, Nevada, that his father, Jeb Bush, will use the Bush last name as an advantage as he seeks the 2016 GOP nomination.

News From Home

•    If you missed the event, here's the video of yesterday's conversation on Texas Monthly's biennial list of the best and worst legislators, with Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith and Texas Monthly's Erica Grieder and R.G. Ratcliffe.

•    By the end of the 84th legislative session, state lawmakers reached many compromises on the 2016-17 budget and tax cuts. See what lawmakers decided — and how they got there — with our Texas Legislative Guide.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation About Health Care and the 84th Legislature on June 24 at UT Health Science Center San Antonio

•    A Conversation About Houston and the 84th Legislature on June 29 at George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2015/06/19/brief-june-19-2015/.

Join me and call for global action to save monarchs

Join me and call for global action to save monarchs

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A world with no ceilings: sponsored in part by dads everywhere.

Posted by Hillary Clinton on Sunday, June 21, 2015

Texas has no limits on non-corporate contributions to individual candidates. And the Legislature still does not require...

Posted by Texas Women's Coalition on Sunday, June 21, 2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The law will trigger a tiny increase in unemployment taxes to cover an $84 million hit to the unemployment insurance trust fund.

Posted by Texas Tribune on Saturday, June 20, 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Is the Houston Independent School District blocking access to pro-choice websites?

Posted by Jezebel on Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Livestream: How'd the Texas Senate Do?

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2015/05/28/livestream-howd-the-texas-senate-do/.

Wishful thinking!

Posted by I Am A Texan on Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Austin Animal Center is asking people to keep lost animals at their residence until the shelter has the means to take them in. Larger animals can be taken to the Travis County Expo Center.

Posted by The KVUE Insider on Tuesday, June 16, 2015

In Urban Mayors Races, Minorities at the Forefront

If former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte wins the runoff for San Antonio mayor next weekend, she'll become the Alamo City's first Hispanic female mayor, though not the first Hispanic, nor the first female.

If opponent Ivy Taylor wins, she'll become the first black person elected to the position, though she's already the first black mayor by appointment, taking over when Julián Castro left for a federal job.

And when Houston voters pick their next mayor in the fall, they could make former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia the first Hispanic mayor of the state's most populous city. A win by state Rep. Sylvester Turner would give the city only its second black mayor.

As Texas' major cities continue their decades-long evolution to minority-majority populations — where there are fewer whites than blacks and Hispanics combined — tracking minority and female ascension to mayoral firsts has almost reached the complexity of a political trivia game.

But the diversity of candidates is not a mere function of census numbers, political organizers and local leaders say. It's the result of years of work in the trenches as people of color have labored to accumulate political capital.

“It’s not a magic bullet,” said Laura Barbarena, a San Antonio-based political consultant.

Though no political newcomers, Barbarena noted, Van de Putte and Taylor benefit from decades of community organizing that empowered voters of color and built fundraising and social networks to propel candidates.


San Antonio has long served as a launchpad for Hispanic Democrats like Van de Putte, a pharmacist who started her political career in 1991 when she was elected to the Texas House. She later won a seat in the Senate, where she rounded out her 24 years in the Legislature.

In modern times, San Antonio has been led by only three Hispanic mayors, despite the massive Hispanic share — 63.2 percent — of the population.

But the configuration of its local and legislative districts — particularly on the East Side — has also helped propel blacks into leadership positions. Taylor hails from the East Side and represented it on the City Council from 2009 until her peers appointed her interim mayor in July 2014.

Whichever way it goes, the June 13 runoff will give San Antonio its first woman of color elected to the top post at City Hall.

Still in its early stages, the Houston race has no clear front-runners in a crowded field, with at least seven candidates looking to win the Nov. 3 election. But with high name identification and wide appeal, Garcia and Turner are likely among the top contenders. The five other candidates are all also men, four white and one black. 

In a city more diverse than San Antonio — Hispanics make up 43.8 percent of the population, blacks 23.7 percent, almost double the state’s share — both candidates have been more overt with messages about bringing people together.

Making note of his family’s roots in Mexico, Garcia said in his campaign announcement that he wanted to offer leadership that “gives everyone a voice at City Hall.”

"I think the people of Houston have waited long enough for a leader that's going to bring folks together and make sure that we're working on the things that matter the most to the most," Garcia recently told KHOU.

Meanwhile, Turner, who has unsuccessfully pursued the mayor’s office twice before, has talked about transcending racial lines to connect with voters of all backgrounds.

In an interview, Turner said minorities are playing a more significant role in elections as they make their way through the "pipeline," but they are still working to overcome the "unfounded" assumption that they'll only serve their racial or ethnic group if elected.

"Whoever is going to be most effective is going to have to represent the entire community and govern with the entire community in mind," Turner said. "And you're going to have to appeal to a broad constituency and then be willing to, and gladly, serve that broad constituency."

Becoming ever more diverse, cities across the country are imprinted with a greater awareness of race relations than small towns where minority populations may be dismal, said Jeronimo Cortina, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Houston.

With their professional credentials and community ties, today’s minority candidates — particularly second-generation Hispanics — are more “electable,” he said. 

“As the population starts to become more assimilated and as other generations try to get into the political mainstream, we’re going to see more and more candidates,” Cortina said.

Garcia and Turner easily fit this mold. The son of immigrants, Garcia served in the Houston Police Department for more than two decades before winning a council seat. He represented a largely Hispanic district for six years, then won a countywide election to the sheriff’s office in 2008 with almost 60 percent of the vote.

In the 26 years he spent in the Texas House, Turner became one of the chamber's most prominent Democrats despite shifting political tides that left liberals in the minority. In the last 20 years, he faced only one challenger, in 2012, whom he easily defeated with 77 percent of the vote.

Though minority candidates are at the forefront of the San Antonio and Houston races, their success in diverse Texas cities is by no means guaranteed.

Last year, the Austin mayoral race saw a crowded field. The top three top vote-getters in the general election reflected the city’s demographics: a white attorney (Steve Adler), the city's first black female council member (Sheryl Cole) and a prominent Hispanic council member (Mike Martinez).

Adler and Martinez eventually faced off in a runoff election that ended in a nearly 40-point blowout in Adler’s favor, making him the third consecutive white Austin mayor.

Martinez attributed his loss in part to low voter turnout among minorities — a staple of Texas elections. Minority candidates, he said, are still working to overcome racial disparities in politics. 

“You still face an old political regime that is reluctant or hesitant to relinquish, if you will, the political stronghold that has historically been held by the largely Anglo community and more conservative voice,” Martinez said. “I don’t blame the outcome [of the election] on race, but it certainly was a factor.”

Still, the outcomes of the mayoral races in San Antonio and Houston will carry more than a historical significance for some.

Minority candidates elected to top offices often serve as “inspiration” for other minorities interested in jumping into politics, said Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert Jr., the county’s first African-American in that position.

“We have ascended on the shoulders of our ancestors,” said Calvert, who has joined other black leaders representing San Antonio’s East Side in endorsing Van de Putte. Taylor has picked up support from the city’s affluent, more conservative North Side.

James Douglas, president of the Houston chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, sees the current mayoral races as a product of the last three decades during which minorities have been able to step up in local and state politics.

“For a long time, it was very difficult for minorities to even get involved,” Douglas said, but he added that the progress they’ve made is clear now. “We just have more people who are experienced in the political arena, and it was just a matter of time before some of them actually rose to the top of the heap.”

Disclosure: Steve Adler is a major donor to The Texas Tribune. The University of Houston is a corporate sponsor. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2015/06/07/minorities-houston-san-antonio-mayoral-races/.

Elementary students in Montgomery County Schools are fighting for schools to be closed on at least one Muslim holy day a year.

Posted by Teaching Tolerance on Tuesday, June 16, 2015

15 June Mtg: Mayoral, City Council At-Large, and Controller Candidates Meyerland Democrats Houston, TX


Hillary Hits Rivals Over Voting Rights, Rick Perry Hits Back

Temperatures inside a car can rise more than 20 degrees in 10 minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Posted by The KVUE Insider on Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015

How did British rock star Phil Collins become captivated by the Alamo? The answer is Davy, Davy Crockett. Now after...

Posted by HISTORY on Monday, June 15, 2015

There are currently 261 inmates living on death row in Texas, the state with the most active execution chamber by far....

Posted by Texas Tribune on Monday, June 15, 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015

“We can’t forget about the basics of what these kids need, which is movement and opportunities to play and explore," Kindergarten teacher Carolyn Pillow.

Posted by Teaching Tolerance on Sunday, June 14, 2015


Houston for Hillary Grassroots Group Launch Party 06142015

Posted by Dalea Lugo on Sunday, June 14, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

JUNE 13, 2015, 9:30AM—11:15AM CDT Hillary for America launch at Chuy's Chuy's Restaurant 9350 westheimer Houston , TX 77063


"I'm here today to talk about HUD and the good work that we're doing, and so I'll let other folks make it about 2016," Castro told reporters after addressing the Texas Black Expo.

Posted by Texas Tribune on Friday, June 12, 2015

Sign the Petition to Say 'Stop the Ban!' | NARAL

Sign the Petition to Say 'Stop the Ban!' | NARAL

During the 84th legislative session, Texas lawmakers contemplated a consolidation of the state's health agencies and...

Posted by Texas Tribune on Thursday, June 11, 2015

Edward Thomas retired in 2011 as the longest-serving officer in HPD's history, Houston's longest-serving city employee and one of the longest-serving police officers in U.S. history.

Posted by KHOU 11 News on Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thursday, June 11, 2015

“...we've gone from managing homelessness to ending it."

Posted by The Huffington Post on Thursday, June 11, 2015



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Even tho' there is not a bag ban in Houston/Harris Co...you can still take your bags with you to shop and make a difference.

Posted by Sue Mallott on Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Interactive Map: Find Texas' Remaining Abortion Clinics


"The students count on Mr. Steve to be there when they need him..." -- http://abcn.ws/1RZbden

Posted by Good Morning America on Monday, June 8, 2015

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Good news!

Posted by Andrea Gardner on Sunday, June 7, 2015

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Teachers and students scribbled the lessons nearly 100 years ago. And they haven’t been touched since.

Posted by Washington Post on Saturday, June 6, 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

DEVELOPING -- Are you or someone you know affected by this incident?

Posted by ABC 13 Houston on Wednesday, June 3, 2015

This Is Alacran by Dalea Lugo Narrated by Carlos Calbillo Pt 1

Monroe demanded the HISD Superintendent Terry Grier immediately step down.

Posted by KHOU 11 News on Tuesday, June 2, 2015

In Texas, Clinton Campaign Revs Up

LLANO — The dozen or so Hillary Clinton supporters gathered here late Tuesday had no illusions that ruby-red Texas would play a key role in electing the next Democratic president. They acknowledged they may get sent to other states to phone bank and block walk, and they were told — repeatedly — not to expect Clinton's campaign to open a brick-and-mortar outpost in the Lone Star State anytime soon. 

Yet they held out hope that the former secretary of state could put up a fight in Texas, where Democrats are desperately looking for a boost after devastating losses in last year's statewide elections. 

"She may not win this state," said Terry Adkins, a former union official who recalls registering voters with the Clintons decades ago in the Rio Grande Valley. "But I do believe she's going to really scare some Republicans."

The meeting at the back of the Llano Public Library — held on a dreary evening in the heart of the Hill Country, 90 minutes outside Texas' liberal refuge of Austin — highlighted the Clinton campaign's first public efforts to build an organization in a state that rejected President Obama by double-digit margins in 2008 and 2012. The campaign is decisively concentrating on the primary in Texas and elsewhere, reflective of a humble approach to a presidential race in which Clinton has long been presumed as the Democratic nominee.

Still, as they rally donors and volunteers, some Texas Democrats cannot help but imagine a general election in which Clinton shakes the party out of its statewide slump. 

"I’m not giving up on the general election in Texas because I think she’s the kind of candidate who could build on the work Battleground Texas and other groups have done and make a credible showing," said Carrin Patman, a Houston trial lawyer who is helping raise money for the campaign. "It may sound quixotic, but I wouldn’t rule out her putting Texas in play in 2016.”

So far, the campaign's most visible outreach in Texas has centered on what it calls "old-school organizing." It has dispatched a full-time paid staffer to Texas through the end of May, part of a broader push to start building a ground game in all 50 states. The staffer, Manfred Mecoy, has Texas roots as a UT-Dallas graduate and Fort Worth native, and he comes to the state with several years of organizing experience in North Carolina and Ohio. His boss is Lance Orchid, who serves as one of four temporary grassroots regional directors. 

Mecoy is among the activists leading a series of so-called grassroots organizing meetings this week — Tuesday in Llano and Fort Worth, Wednesday in Austin and Thursday in Dallas. The gatherings are more or less serving as listening sessions, with supporters getting the opportunity to weigh in on what shape they think the campaign should take in Texas.

At the Llano meeting, for example, supporters gathered in a circle and shared their answers to questions on a worksheet including "What national issues do you believe are most important to Texans such as yourself?" and "What presence do you think Hillary for America should have in Texas during the primary election campaign?" The attendees, some eager to immediately get involved in the campaign, were told to sit tight as the powers-that-be chart a long-term plan for Texas. 

Clinton allies in the state say the early organization shows the campaign means it when it says it wants to earn every vote. They point out it is unusual — if not unheard of — for a Democratic presidential campaign to install a state-level organizer in a red state like Texas, let alone 10 months before the primary and without a serious opponent. 

"She is taking nothing for granted," said Dallas attorney Regina Montoya, noting that Clinton's operation is not assuming a general election berth. "She is here to ensure she does well in the Texas primary." 

"She's starting now, and I think that's why you see her working as hard as she is and everyone else working as hard as they are," Montoya added.

As the campaign's organizing in Texas is ramping up, so is its finance operation. Jennifer Ajluni, the former finance director of the Texas Democratic Party, is overseeing the campaign's fundraising in Texas. Meanwhile, Austin-based consultant Yaël Ouzillou is in charge of fundraising in the South Central region that includes Texas. She played a similar role on Clinton's 2008 campaign. 

Right now, the campaign is focused on recruiting so-called "Hillstarters," donors who can raise $2,700 — the maximum limit for the primary — from 10 different people. On Tuesday, the campaign is sending national political director Amanda Renteria and chief digital strategist Teddy Goff to Austin to hold a private strategy session with current and prospective Hillstarters. 

A familiar cast of deep-pocketed Texans are expected to open their wallets for the campaign and have already ponied up for Ready for Hillary. Houston trial lawyers Steve and Amber Mostyn were among the founding members of the group's national finance council, while its co-chairs include prominent Democratic donors such as McAllen developer Alonzo Cantu, CarMax co-founder Austin Ligon and Fort Worth investor Robert Patton, who co-owns the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Aiding the Clinton campaign is the months-long efforts of Ready for Hillary, which held fundraisers and public events across the state while building a massive list of early backers of a Clinton campaign. Garry Mauro, a former land commissioner who worked for Ready for Hillary in Texas, recently said it ended up raising over $600,000 in the state and signing up more than 200,000 volunteers.

"So we've got a good, solid base," Mauro said on The Ticket, the Texas Tribune/KUT podcast on the 2016 presidential race. "It's the only campaign I've ever been involved in — the day she announces, we've got 200,000 volunteers, you know, on our internet, ready to go, ready to put bumper stickers on. So that's a nice head start."

For Texas Democrats, it remains an open question how the campaign will mesh with the network of state-level groups working to turn the state blue, especially as those groups find their footing after getting crushed up and down the ballot in 2014. Battleground Texas Executive Director Jenn Brown said in a statement Tuesday that it is "too soon to tell what things will look like in Texas in 2016 or how Battleground Texas and its supporters will interact with the president campaign."

Clinton's fans in Texas nonetheless see Battleground as an eventual partner for the campaign. Some believe the benefits of its work last year will not be evident until a presidential election cycle, when Democrats tend to turn out more than they do in midterm elections. 

On Tuesday night in Llano, Clinton backers were already floating their expectations for Clinton's performance in the general election. John Lightfoot, president of the Llano County Democratic Party Club, said any prediction has to take into account the reality of Texas' solid-red electorate.

"If we can get 30 or 35 percent [turnout] and if we can get a good 30 to 40 percent of that for Hillary," he said,"I think we've done a good job."

Disclosure: Alonzo Cantu is an investor and board member with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, which is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. Austin Ligon is a major donor to the Tribune. Steve and Amber Mostyn were major donors to the Tribune in 2010. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here. 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2015/05/13/in-texas-clinton-campaign-revs-up/.

Houston commands his army to march forward in last night's episode of #TexasRising. Check out the action online, On Demand, and on the HISTORY app!

Posted by HISTORY on Tuesday, June 2, 2015

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