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10 reasons why so many people are moving to Texas

Half of the 10 fastest-growing cities in the US are in Texas, according to new figures. Why?

Every way you look at it, there are a lot of people moving to Texas.

Five of the 10 fastest-growing cities in the country between 2011 and 2012 were in Texas, according to new figures from the US Census Bureau. New York is way out in front in terms of added population, but Houston is second with San Antonio and Austin fourth and fifth.

Graph showing fastest growing cities

In terms of percentage growth, it’s even more Texas, Texas, Texas. Among the five cities that grew most, as a proportion of their size, between 2011 and 2012, three are Texan. San Marcos is out in front with the highest rate of growth among all US cities and towns – 4.9%.

Some of this Texan population boom is due to a natural increase – more births than deaths – but the numbers moving into the state from elsewhere in the US and from abroad far outstrip every other American state. Why?

 

1. Jobs

“I don’t think people go for the weather or topography,” says Joel Kotkin, professor of urban development at Chapman University in Orange, California. “The main reason people go is for employment. It’s pretty simple.

“The unconventional oil and gas boom has helped turn Texas into an economic juggernaut, particularly world energy capital Houston, but growth has also been strong in tech, manufacturing and business services.”

Critics have questioned whether the “Texas miracle” is a myth, based on cheap labour and poor regulation.

But Kotkin says Texas has plenty of high-wage, blue-collar jobs and jobs for university graduates, although people looking for very high-wage jobs would probably head to Seattle, San Francisco and New York.

Four of the top 10 metropolitan areas for job growth in 2013 are in Texas, according to Kotkin’s website, New Geography.

Texas also has a huge military presence, which grew as defence spending increased in the decade after 9/11. Many retired Texans first came to the state as service personnel.

 

2. It’s cheaper

Once employed, it’s hugely important that your pay cheque goes as far as possible, says Kotkin.

“New York, LA and the [San Francisco] Bay Area are too expensive for most people to live, but Houston has the highest ‘effective’ pay cheque in the country.”

Kotkin came to this conclusion after looking at the average incomes in the country’s 51 largest metro areas, and adjusting them for the cost of living. His results put three Texan areas in the top 10.

Houston is top because of the region’s relatively low cost of living, including consumer prices, utilities and transport costs and, most importantly, housing prices, he says.

“The ratio of the median home price to median annual household income in Houston is only 2.9. In San Francisco, it’s 6.7.

“In New York, San Francisco and LA, if you’re blue-collar you will be renting forever and struggling to make ends meet. But people in Texas have a better shot at getting some of the things associated with middle-class life.”

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Texans who’ve left their mark on the world

Composite image showing, from left: Roy Orbison, Joan Crawford, Jayne Mansfield and George W Bush
  • Roy Orbison (pictured, first) was born in the small town of Vernon, in 1936, months before fellow rock ‘n’ roll great Buddy Holly, from nearby Lubbock
  • Joan Crawford(second), born Lucille Fay LeSueur to a poor San Antonio family, was famous for accepting an Oscar while ill in bed
  • As JR Ewing, Fort Worth’s Larry Hagman became the face of long-running soap Dallas and just about the most famous man in Texas
  • Also robbers Bonnie and Clyde, singer Janis Joplin, country star Willie Nelson, cyclist Lance Armstrong, actress Jayne Mansfield(third)
  • Texas has produced two presidents: Lyndon Johnson and Dwight Eisenhower. Connecticut-born George W Bush (fourth) grew up there

 

3. Homes

Land is cheaper than elsewhere and the process of land acquisition very efficient, says Dr Ali Anari, research economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

“From the time of getting a building permit right through to the construction of homes, Texas is much quicker than other states.

“There is an abundant supply of land and fewer regulations and more friendly government, generally a much better business attitude here than other states.”

This flexibility, plus strict lending rules, helped to shield the state from the recent housing market crash.

 

4. Low tax

Texas is one of only seven states where residents pay no personal state income tax, says Kay Bell, contributing tax editor at Bankrate and Texan native.

The state has a disproportionate take from property taxes, which has become a big complaint among homeowners, she adds. But overall, only five states had a lower individual tax burden than Texas, according to Tax Foundation research.

There are also tax incentives for businesses and this week legislators cut more than $1bn off proposed business taxes.

 

5. Pick your own big city

Texas has six of the country’s 20 biggest cities, says Erica Grieder, author of Big, Hot, Cheap and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas.

Contrast this to, for example, Illinois, where if you want to live in a big city you can live in Chicago or you have to move out of state, she says.

But if you’re in Texas you can be in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, or El Paso.

 

6. Austin in particular

Restaurant manager Christopher Hislop, 33, moved in 2007 from Los Angeles to Austin, where he met his wife and they now have a nine-month-old boy.

“I came to Austin for a wedding and thought it was a really cool city and the people were nice – it was everything that LA wasn’t but still had that hip vibe without pretension. The nightlife is great and there’s an emphasis on getting out and about – they maintain trailways and nature.

“It’s not Texas at all and that’s what I liked about it. I don’t know Texas very well, I grew up in Chicago, but Austin is not Texas because you think of 10-gallon hats and guys on horseback. It’s a cliché but Austin isn’t like that, it’s hip and in the now. The rest of Texas is very conservative.”

People like to perpetuate a myth that Austin is still the Austin it once was, says Joshua Long, author of Weird City: Sense of Place and Creative Resistance in Austin, Texas. So as it’s become a big city, a movement has developed to “keep it cool, keep it weird and keep it environmentally friendly”.

 

7. Family-friendly

Because of its good-value housing, Texas has been particularly popular with families, and some of its cities now have an above-average number of children. San Antonio is home to the largest community of gay parents.

In Texas, you can have a reasonable mortgage and pretty good schools, says Grieder. And restaurants are invariably family-friendly.

“You hear about the high drop-out rate but Texas education scores pretty well at national tests for 4th and 8th graders in math, reading and science. The aggregate is about average.

“The perception is that Texas has poor schools but it’s not correct. Across the country in general, we don’t have schools as good as we would like them to be.”

In eighth-grade maths, for instance, Texas scored higher than the national average and outscored the three other big states of California, New York and Florida. On Sunday, an education budget was approved that restored cuts made in 2011.

 

8. Fewer rules

“Texas is liberal in the classic sense, it’s laissez-faire, so there’s a lack of regulations,” says Grieder, and this can apply to the obvious (business regulations) or the less obvious (city rules).

“The classic social contract is – we’re not going to do a ton to help you but we’re not going to get in your way. That’s not 100% true of the state but there’s that strand in the state.”

Mortgage lending is an obvious exception. But there has been strong opposition to banning texting while driving and a proposed tax on soda.

And Governor Rick Perry is poised to sign off the strongest email privacy laws in the US, which would require state law enforcement agencies to get a warrant before accessing emails.

 

9. Texans are normal people

The state likes to proclaim itself as an unpretentious, down-to-earth place where people are easy to get along with.

As John Steinbeck wrote: “Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America.”

And for people with conservative values, it could be a natural home, although demographic shifts have prompted speculation it will be a Democratic state in the future.

People dream about moving to California, but they don’t dream about moving to Texas, says Grieder, yet many of those reluctant to move there end up liking it.

She adds: “[They] realise that Texans aren’t all Bible thumping, gun-toting people. The job is the trigger to come but you find it’s pretty nice to live here.”

 

10. And they’re not going anywhere

All this doesn’t just bring in new arrivals – native Texans aren’t leaving the state either. It is the “stickiest” state in the country, according to the latest figures from the Pew Research Center, which suggest…Continued here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22649624

Ted Cruz, John Cornyn Grill Eric Holder on Federal Harassment of Tea Party

Both U.S. Senators from Texas, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, grilled U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday over federal abuses in scrutiny of Tea Party organizations across the U.S.

Sen. Cruz focused on the IRS, and Sen. Cornyn focused on the story Breitbart News broke that the scandal was broader in relation to True the Vote, the Texas-based nonprofit that was also seemingly harassed by two Department of Justice agencies (DOJ), not just the IRS.

Breitbart News was the first to report that the IRS abuses of Tea Party groups extended beyond the IRS and into the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF, or more commonly known as the ATF).

The May 13, 2013 piece by Breitbart News titled “Multiple Agencies Involved With IRS Intimidation” revealed that True the Vote and the group’s founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, had been seemingly targeted since 2010 by various federal agencies.

This author wrote:

True the Vote’s experiences with the IRS’s abuse of power were recently discussed by Catherine Engelbrecht in a previous interview with Breitbart News. She said:

We applied for nonprofit C-3 status early in 2010. Since that time the IRS has run us through a gauntlet of analysts and hundreds of questions over and over again. They’ve requested to see each and every tweet I’ve ever tweeted or Facebook post I’ve ever posted. They also asked to know every place I’ve ever spoken since our inception and to whom, and everywhere I intend to speak in the future.

Engelbrecht’s application with the IRS for non-profit status allegedly triggered aggressive audits of one of her family’s personal businesses as well. The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) began a series of inquiries about her and her group; the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) began demanding to see her family’s firearms in surprise audits of her and her husband’s small gun dealership – which had done less than $200 in sales; OSHA (Occupational Safety Hazards Administration) began a surprise audit of their small family manufacturing business; and the EPA-affiliated TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environment Quality) did a surprise visit and audit due to “a complaint being called in.”

Breitbart News followed up the next day with a piece titled “True the Vote Founder: DOJ Scrutinized Us After IRS Filing” in which this author wrote:

However, the experiences of one prominent Tea party-derived group indicate the scrutiny did not stop with the IRS, but involved agencies from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as well.

“They [FBI] contacted us, asked questions about one of the people who attended a program,” Engelbrecht told Breitbart News. “They asked for us to call if he ever showed back up. They repeated [their calls] over time, but no longer about that individual. They said they were just calling to check up with us. They called to check up with us a great deal and said it was ‘routine.'”

Engelbrecht added: “We support law enforcement and the FBI beginning to call wasn’t such a big deal in itself, but it came as the IRS was probing us and auditing everything. It came as the ATF began surprise visits and audits of our business.”

She added: “Not only were the IRS, ATF, and FBI now in our lives, but OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] and a governmental environmental entity started auditing us in surprise visits as well.”

Engelbrecht said the sheer number of agencies auditing her in such rapid…Continued here: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/01/29/Cruz-Cornyn-Grill-Holder-On-Fed-Abuses-of-Tea-Party-Following-Breitbart-s-Lead

 

Women Underrepresented in Texas Legislature

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Despite the attention on Davis, Texas ranks 33rd for its percentage of female legislators. While women make up more than half the state, only 21 percent of the 181 state legislators who served last year were women, down from 24 percent in 2009. The number of women in the upper chamber is unlikely to increase, even as two of the seven in the 31-member Senate — Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, a Democrat who is trying to become the state’s first female lieutenant governor — pursue statewide office. An increase of women is more likely in the House.

Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, said that the number of women serving in state legislatures has stagnated, even in states like South Carolina that have elected a woman as governor.

“There isn’t always that trickle-down effect,” Walsh said.

Still, since Davis’ filibuster, more women in Texas have expressed interest in running for office, said Grace Garcia, executive director of Annie’s List, a state group that works to elect Democratic women who favor abortion rights.

“It was a defining moment for women in the importance of engaging,” Garcia said.

Whether that will translate into more women serving in the Legislature is unclear.

No male senators drew major-party female challengers for the March 4 primaries or November general election, and no Republican or Democratic women are running for the open Senate seats held by men. So far, no women have filed to run in the May special election for an open Houston-area Senate seat.

There is the potential for an additional woman to join that chamber if a senator who is running for comptroller wins his race. It is also possible that the number of women in the Senate could decrease.

In the 150-member House, about 20 districts represented by men have drawn major-party female challengers, and on Tuesday, Celia Israel, a Democrat, won a special runoff for an Austin seat vacated by a man. She will seek a full term in November.

“Sometimes it’s just a matter of women realizing their own power and taking the initiative when they haven’t been asked to the good old boys’ war room,” said Israel, who worked for Texas’ last female governor, Democrat Ann Richards.

One barrier, Walsh said, was actually getting women to run for state legislature seats; the number of female candidates has changed very little in the last 20 years. According to a 2008 survey of state legislators by the Rutgers center, nearly twice as many women representatives as men had not seriously considered running until someone suggested it.

Advocates for women in public service say losing the female voice at the table affects how policy is made. Female legislators are more likely to prioritize issues that affect women, families and children, Walsh said.

Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, said having more women in office could also affect the legislative schedule. “There may be some changes to the calendar that they would like to see so they could participate fully in their family and serve,” said Klick, whose involvement in politics increased as her children grew older.

In the Texas Legislature, two Senate committees and five House committees have only male members, including the natural resources panels in both chambers.

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican, said a higher percentage of House women than men serve in committee leadership roles.

“Assignments are primarily a product of a member’s seniority and preference, but the speaker makes it a priority to consider geography, ethnicity, political party and gender in these decisions,” the spokeswoman, Erin Daly, said.

To former state Sen. Cyndi Taylor Krier, R-San Antonio, the Legislature’s current census is a significant improvement. She was the only woman in the Senate during her first session, in 1985. Krier said having more women could change the tone of discussions. She recalled a committee hearing about rape in which she felt that her male colleagues were not as sensitive as they should have been.

“It gives the Legislature a broader perspective when it has broad groups of people serving in it,” she said.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/01/31/women-and-texas-legislature/.

The NSA is Spying on Way More Than Just Metadata: They Have it All

[Image Source: Nation of Change]

by Kit Lange

This is the post I had hoped I would never have to write.  Unfortunately, I’ve checked this out, and it’s all true.  Disgustingly, frighteningly true.  The NSA is not just looking at your metadata, which as we’ve reported, is bad enough (and highly unconstitutional).  They’re actually recording and storing every possible scrap of data of yours…including the CONTENT of your emails, phone calls, and internet activity.  Recording and storing, just in case they can use it later against you.  We’ve reported a bit on this as well, but it’s so much worse than any of us ever knew.

For example, the government is photographing the outside information on every piece of snail mail.

The government is spying on you through your phone … and may even remotely turn on your camera and microphone when your phone is off.

As one example, the NSA has inserted its code into Android’s operating system … bugging three-quarters of the world’s smartphones. Google – or the NSA – can remotely turn on your phone’s camera and recorder at any time.

Moreover, Google knows just about every WiFi password in the world … and so the NSA does as well, since it spies so widely on Google.

But it’s not just the Android.  In reality, the NSA can spy on just about everyone’s smart phone.

Cell towers track where your phone is at any moment, and the major cell carriers, including Verizon and AT&T, responded to at least 1.3 million law enforcement requests for cell phone locations and other data in 2011. (And – given that your smartphone routinely sends your location information back to Apple or Google – it would be child’s play for the government to track your location that way.) Your iPhone, or other brand of smartphone is spying on virtually everything you do (ProPublica notes: “That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker“). Remember, that might be happening even when your phone is turned off.

The government might be spying on you through your computer’s webcam or microphone. The government might also be spying on you through the “smart meter” on your own home.

NSA also sometimes uses “man-in-the-middle” tactics, to pretend that it is Google or other popular websites to grab your information.

The FBI wants a backdoor to all software. But leading European computer publication Heise said in 1999 that the NSA had already built a backdoor into all Windows software.

Microsoft has long worked hand-in-hand with the NSA and FBI so that encryption doesn’t block the government’s ability to spy on users of Skype, Outlook, Hotmail and other Microsoft services.

And Microsoft informs intelligence agencies of with information about bugs in its popular software before it publicly releases a fix, so that information can be used by the government to access computers. (Software vulnerabilities are also sold to the highest bidder.)

There are enough links here to keep you busy for a while.  But I implore you.  Click every one.  Look at every last one.  Read it, take it in and understand that you cannot do anything, say anything, buy anything, or go anywhere without the government knowing what, where, why, and when.  Nothing.  You are, as Bruce Schneier explains, “under constant surveillance.”  Period.  You have no more rights.  There is no more Constitution.  On top of all of it, Obama has made clear that he no longer cares about the limits of his executive power—if he ever did.

What can you do?  Start here.  It’s a 3-hour free workshop on the Tor network and other ways to fight for your privacy by taking it back.  Take the time.

Stop making huge trails of data.  A few places giving out your data that you don’t normally think of: Your grocery store loyalty card, pizza delivery place, and the bumper stickers on your car that announce where your honor student goes to school, what groups and networks you’re in, and lots more. Bottom line is, you need to change the way you live.  Period.

JJ Luna is a privacy expert and consultant who has written several books on how to take back your privacy.  If you can’t afford to drop a few dollars to buy his books, read his website.  He’s got an incredible amount of information and advice on his website.

The rubber is meeting the road.  Do you really care about all of this?  Does it really bother you that the federal…Continued here:

‘I’m on the Lord’s Time’: Hear the Unbelievable Story of a Wounded Veteran Who Is Running for Office in Texas

Retired Army Capt. Samuel Brown and his wife Amy appear on the Glenn Beck Program Thursday Jan. 30, 2014. (Photo: TheBlaze TV)

Retired Army Capt. Samuel Brown was in Afghanistan when a former West Point classmate got caught in an ambush. As he was going to provide backup, Brown’s vehicle hit an IED and he was instantly engulfed in flames.

“You don’t see tragedy coming at all times in your life, but when it hit, there was no mistaking it,” he recalled on the Glenn Beck Program Thursday. “The first thing I did was I threw my arms in my air and I screamed, ‘Jesus save me.’”

Brown said that though he was physically fit and academically accomplished, he knew he could not put out the flames himself. He tried rolling on the ground. He covered himself in dirt. But Brown estimated that he was on fire for 30 to 60 seconds before his gunner broke free to help him.

“I can see nothing but flames. All I can hear is my own voice screaming,” Brown said.

But he still remembers thinking, “How long will it take for me to burn to death?” and “When I burn to death, what will the transition from this life to the next be life?”

Though Brown had resigned himself to dying, he said everything changed when he heard his gunner say: “Sir, I got you.” At that moment, Brown recalled, not only did he know he was going to survive, but he knew he had survived for a reason.

“At that point, I gave up my will to live,” Brown said simply. “And so every moment from that point forward, I can’t take credit for. I’m on the Lord’s time. And so my motto has become, ‘the life I live is not my own.’”

Brown is currently seeking the GOP nomination for Texas House District 102. He married and has two children with the dietician who ran the burn unit where he was recovering, and says she is his “first line of defense” against the corrupting influence of politics.

“I’m getting into politics for the same reason I went into that fight to begin with,” Brown said. “There’s people in trouble. There’s chaos all around. And people are crying for help. People need support. And … we don’t have a cavalry that’s running in to do anything about it.”

Brown said with a laugh that he’s “certainly not the most beautiful” candidate, but he feels a conviction that it is the “right thing to do.”

“I don’t know [how this story ends],” he admitted. “But I can be faithful. I can be faithful to my God. I can be faithful to my country. I can be faithful to this state, and to…Continued here: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/01/30/im-on-the-lords-time-hear-the-unbelievable-story-of-a-wounded-veteran-who-is-running-for-office-in-texas/

 

Friends Are Nice, but Their Checks Are What Matter

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Candidates at the top of the ticket get most of the money — usually in large amounts. In this version of income disparity, small donations are eclipsed by giant ones, and partisanship sometimes comes in second to power.

Texas is notable for low election turnouts, which allows candidates to run niche campaigns for small numbers of voters instead of mass campaigns for all. Unlimited campaign contributions can have the same effect on the fundraising side, with relatively small number of donors able to make or break campaigns by deciding where to send five-, six- and even seven-figure checks.

The candidates like to tout the showings of support, bragging especially loud about the little guys who offered small contributions, counting the number of open wallets rather than the dollars falling out of them.

Having thousands of donors ready to spend even a little money is terrific. But do not be fooled. The millionaires’ and billionaires’ club is thriving in Texas politics.

In her year-end reports, state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, noted seven contributions of $100,000 or more, including one for $1 million. Davis, a candidate for governor, got a lot contributions of “under $50” — amounts so low that state law does not require the donors’ name to be listed. And Davis’s campaign boasted about the number of people who gave, saying it had about 71,000 different contributors over that six-month period.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, the leading Republican in the governor’s race, reported 25 donors giving at least $100,000. He itemized the little donations — Davis did not — saying he had more than 11,000 contributors. Less than half of each campaign’s money, however, came from people who gave less than $10,000, according to an analysis by The Texas Tribune.

This is just one report, and the numbers could change before November. The first reports, covering the second half of 2013, came in last month. Monday is another deadline for campaign finance reports, marking the last 30 days of the primary elections. But the numbers reported by campaigns so far follow a long-established pattern in politics — small donors are great, but the big donations really power the statewide campaigns.

In federal elections, there is some relationship between the number of people giving to campaigns and the amount collected, because federal law limits how much a donor can give to a candidate in a single election cycle.

The difference between the big financial animals and the little ones is apparent in other ways — third-party committees and campaign bundlers, for instance — but not so much in each candidate’s reports.

Texas is different. There are no limits to what a donor can give to a candidate, or to any number of candidates, in the same election cycle.

The numbers at the top are so big that wealthy individuals can make $25,000 donations in statewide races and never see their names in the news. Contributions of that heft are deeply appreciated by candidates but still small enough to disappear in the shadows of the mega-donors who hog the limelight, intentionally or not.

The money often transcends party lines, working as a caste system within the political world.

Consider the case of David Alameel, a Dallas Democrat running for the U.S. Senate seat held by John Cornyn, a Republican. Alameel has been a generous political donor over the years, and his primary opponents are deriding him for contributions to prominent Texas Republicans.

The Republicans are after him, too: Some of them are needling Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for accepting contributions from Alameel. Cornyn is having fun with all this. Alameel, who contributed $8,000 to Cornyn in 2004, is hoping to win the Democratic nomination to challenge him. Cornyn made light of the irony in a recent letter, thanking his opponent and donor in a way that cannot possibly help the Alameel campaign.

However his election comes out, Alameel is likely to keep getting calls from fundraisers for candidates from both parties.

Whatever his personal politics, he has money, which separates the people trying to win the attention of politicians from the people whose attention the politicians themselves seek. He will have some influence after the elections, win or lose.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/02/03/numbers-are-nice-its-money-matters/.

Lone Star Insurgent

There’s a rising star in Texas, and it’s not Wendy Davis or Ted Cruz.

When Mike Ditka canceled a speaking engagement last month at the annual conference hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, organizers of the sold-out event were fortunate to find someone else from the NFL to fill in on short notice. As it happened, their last-minute substitute ended up giving the most talked-about speech at the multi-day confab in Austin, which featured speakers such as Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal and Texas senator Ted Cruz.

Ditka’s replacement was Scott Turner, a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives who was elected in 2012 and hails from the Dallas suburb of Richardson. Before becoming a member of the legislature, Turner logged eight seasons in the NFL, playing defensive back for the Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins, and San Diego Chargers. Though not yet known to the national media and Acela-corridor crowd, Representative Turner is one of the nation’s most promising GOP stars.

Turner, age 42, is a skilled public speaker who knows how to captivate an audience. In his Austin speech, Turner’s central message was that Texas “should not be content with just being better than other states.” Turner implored his colleagues in the legislature not to settle for being the best in some rankings, but to strive to make Texas number one in all metrics of economic success and competitiveness.

Not only did Turner impress the crowd in Austin with his speech, he made news with his recent announcement that he will challenge the powerful Representative Joe Straus for the Texas House speakership.

Most stories written about Texas by Manhattan- and D.C.-based reporters portray the state as a bastion of conservatism, and while the Lone Star State’s legislature is politically to the right of most, the House is run by Straus — a moderate, some would even say liberal. Straus came to power in 2009 by cobbling together a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans to topple his much more conservative predecessor, Tom Craddick.

The impact Straus’s speakership has had on policy outcomes in the U.S.’s second largest economy has been real and significant. Take the state’s current biennial budget, which was approved last year. Conservative legislators, organizations, and activists have been highly critical of what Speaker Straus did with the $20 billion of unexpected surplus revenue that lawmakers were confronted with.

“This may be the first time in history that a state experienced a rush of new tax collections and lowered its reserve fund,” wrote the Wall Street Journal editorial board shortly after the current budget was passed in the summer of 2013, adding that the new budget “also allowed an end run around the state’s constitutional spending cap. . . . This is the kind of stunt one would expect from Nancy Pelosi. The budget contains a roughly $1 billion tax cut, but for every $1 of tax relief, $19 in new revenue will be spent.”

Texas is in the middle of the pack on the Mercatus Center’s recently released Fiscal Condition Index, which measures states’ ability to meet their financial obligations based on a number of factors, such as cash solvency, budget solvency, and long-run solvency.

All of this makes Turner’s challenge to Straus, and his message that Texas should not rest on her laurels, even more compelling. Turner has the most conservative voting record in the Texas House of Representatives by most measures. He has top billing on nearly every legislative scorecard put out by right-leaning organizations. For the 2013 legislative session, Turner received a perfect 100 percent on one of the most influential ratings in the state, the Empower Texans Fiscal Responsibility Index.

Michael Quinn Sullivan, president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, agrees with Turner that Texas is not living up to its full potential. “Sure we outperform most states, but other states, all of which face serious fiscal challenges, are not the standard by which Texas should judge itself,” says Sullivan. “Just because a guy is the least drunk person at the bar, doesn’t mean he should drive home.”

Much reporting has been done on the concerted and well-funded Democratic effort to turn Texas blue. But since it would take several election cycles for Democrats, even if they were successful, to achieve such an ambitious goal, many Texas Republicans see the upcoming March GOP primaries, in which a number of moderate, Straus-backed candidates are going up against conservatives, as the more immediate fight. As Sullivan sees it, anyone who says the effort to turn Texas blue is strictly a November problem is flat-out wrong: “Liberals and establishment Republicans are at work right now undermining Republican primaries.”

While taking down the Straus machine is a daunting challenge, it’s one that many Austin insiders believe Turner is best suited to take on. Those who spend a lot of time at the Texas capitol note that Turner is a strong conservative who is not abrasive and is skilled at promoting conservative policies and principles in a manner that doesn’t rub people who disagree with him the wrong way. Amongst his colleagues, Turner is well liked by both Republicans and Democrats and is considered thoughtful and hardworking.

Though the race won’t be decided for another year, Turner’s bid for speaker is already having an impact on the upcoming March GOP primaries. As the…Continued here: http://m.nationalreview.com/article/370088/lone-star-insurgent-patrick-m-gleason

DeLay: Wendy Davis Could Still Win Texas Gov’s Race

Photo: DAVID J. PHILLIP

By Bill Hoffmann

Democratic Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, mired in controversy for fudging her biography, could still beat Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott in the Lone Star State’s governor’s race, former House majority leader and Texas congressman Tom DeLay says.

“I’m not ready to say no way because, as you know, the left are in Texas and they’re trying to change Texas from red to blue and they bring their entire strong coalition,” DeLay told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“Over the last 15 years, they’ve put together, probably, the most powerful political coalition I’ve ever seen before. And you add that to Obama’s campaign machine, it’s pretty ominous.”

DeLay says that Abbott — along with the Texas Republican base — must continue to campaign hard and not “sit on his laurels.”

“The Republicans and conservatives cannot just allow this to happen. They’ve got to get out and work or the left is going to turn out the inner cities in Texas and, just like Obama won, turning out their base could win,” he said.

Davis, who made headlines with her 13-hour filibuster against abortion restrictions last June, has been in hot water since it was revealed that key details in her public personal narrative do not match up with the reality of the facts.

During her campaign, she had repeatedly touted a personal story of having been a divorced teenage mother who lived in a trailer but ultimately fought her way to Harvard Law School.

But it then emerged that she was divorced at the age of 21, despite her claims during a recent hearing under oath that she was 19.

She also neglected to disclose that her second husband paid for the second two years of her undergraduate degree, as well as the full tuition for law school, and that she divorced him the day after the last payment was made.

In addition, it was revealed that her ex-husband accused her in initial court filings of adultery and was awarded custody of their two daughters, and also that she first ran for city council in Fort Worth as a Republican.

The latest controversy swirling around Davis involves the release of a video by the conservative activist site Project Veritas that shows her supporters making fun of Abbott for being in a wheelchair.

“I’m really wondering how this is going to work out, since he’s in a wheelchair and most of the slogans are ‘Stand With Wendy,’” one supporter smirks.

“It’s more than outrageous, but it shows you who Wendy Davis is. She has no concept of life and she believes in murdering the unborn and you go from there,” DeLay said.  “It just shows you her character. First of all, Greg Abbott is good looking and he speaks well and, yes, he is in a wheelchair, but nobody laughs about it.

“He’s been a man of incredible character and responsibility. I guess they do what the left normally does, just completely destroy somebody in order to defeat them.”

DeLay says New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, embroiled in his own scandal over politically-motivated traffic tie-ups allegedly orchestrated by his top aides, stands to emerge stronger than ever and still has a chance to run for president.

“He’s always had a chance. We nominated John McCain so anybody, especially a governor, has a chance. In fact, governors probably have more of a chance in 2016 than anybody else. So he’s always had a chance and, frankly, the media’s overreaching on this one,” DeLay said.

“By now, they have not been able to find any smoking gun and they have so pounded on him, as they normally do, and [have not found] him connected with any of this.

“I just think – in fact, I don’t think, I know, if… Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/DeLay-Wendy-Davis-Texas/2014/01/23/id/548705#ixzz2sEnVDKvS

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