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Texas’ Cornyn avoids tea party primary challenger


The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas —

One national conservative group produced an online video calling Texas Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn a chicken. Another held a “town hall” inside a Dallas hotel ballroom with a cardboard cutout of him, claiming he refused to show up in person.

Tea party and other grassroots activists are attacking the Senate minority whip as too moderate despite what most observers say are strong conservative credentials. But, so far, the groups that last year helped unleash firebrand Ted Cruz on the Senate can’t seem to manage a second act to challenge Cornyn in the state’s Republican primary set for March.

1a5edfa476944214b5f79a05455453b5-1e97191c003741169dedb8e98bd6550e-0In this July 23, 2013 file photo, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the House Homeland Security subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing on “A Study in Contrasts: House and Senate Approaches to Border Security.” Tea party activists are attacking the U.S. Senate minority whip as too moderate despite his seemingly strong conservative credentials. But so far the group that last year unleashed tea party firebrand Ted Cruz on the U.S. Senate can’t seem to manage a second act to challenge Cornyn in the Republican primary in March. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

In an interview with The Associated Press, Cornyn said he’s prepared all the same to fight off any threat from the right. The two-term incumbent raised $4-plus million during the first half of the year — more than any other GOP senator up for re-election — and appears poised to coast to another term unless a legitimate contender emerges soon.

There may still be time, but the Dec. 9 candidate filing deadline is now barely three months off.

“Texas is always on our radar,” said Whitney Neal of FreedomWorks, the Washington-based political action committee that has spent millions of dollars promoting tea party candidates and helped propel Cruz to victory in 2012.

Neal said FreedomWorks hasn’t interviewed any challengers for Cornyn. The only conservative candidate to file against him is Iraq war veteran Erick Wyatt, who misspelled Republican on his election form and reported raising $25 as of April. In 2008, Cornyn’s primary opponent was Larry SECEDE Kilgore — who has since changed his middle name from Scott and made it all capital letters to emphasize his support for Texas breaking away from America.

Cornyn said the lack of challengers is a testament to his staunch conservatism since arriving in the Senate in 2002.

“I don’t know what else I can do to convince people that I’m a true conservative,” he said during a recent visit to Austin. “My record is about as solid as it gets.”

A former Texas attorney general and state Supreme Court justice, Cornyn was named by National Journal the 2nd Most Conservative Senator in 2012, and he has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association and 100 percent scores from the National Right To Life Committee and Americans for Tax Reform.

Even FreedomWorks gave him a 92 percent rating for the 2013 congressional session, though Neal noted that Cornyn only has a lifetime rating of 81.

Cornyn has been targeted by some conservatives for opposing a Cruz-backed plan that would seek a partial shutdown of the federal government in an attempt to stop funding the White House’s signature health care law. The grassroots group ForAmerica posted an online video likening Cornyn — and others in the Republican senatorial leadership — to chickens. Freedomworks organized the Cornyn cardboard-cutout event in Dallas, which drew an overflow crowd of more than 600 last month.

Cornyn calls the health care law a “monstrosity” but also notes that shutting down the government won’t sever all funding to it. He instead favors derailing the overhaul by recapturing a Republican majority in the Senate next year.

“I’m taking the view that what we ought to do is try to set our sights on goals that can actually be achieved,” Cornyn said.

Katrina Pierson, a Texas grassroots activist, said Cornyn also angered some conservatives by voting to allow sweeping federal immigration reform to move forward in the Senate, where it eventually passed.

“The political paradigm is shifting; it just is,” Pierson said. “The old-timers who have a death grip on power are starting to see that grip slip, starting to realize that they can’t keep holding back young GOPers who aren’t afraid to buck the current.”

Cornyn’s office responded that while the senator voted to proceed with debate on the immigration bill, he ultimately opposed it and voted against it.

Still, Pierson said grassroots groups in Texas are excited about already elected conservative Republicans who may one day seeking higher offices, including Texas Supreme Court Justice and frequent tweeter Don Willett, as well as U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, an East Texas tea party darling and gun rights advocate.

Neither has expressed interest in running for Senate this cycle, however. That’s especially surprising given that Cruz — a little-known former state solicitor general — used tea party support last year to upset mainstream Texas Republican favorite and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the GOP primary to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Cornyn said Cruz’s campaign taught him the importance of traveling the…Read full story here:

Groups race to hire, train ‘Obamacare’ guides

Photo By M. Spencer Green
In this Sept. 5, 2013, Jacqueline Saulsberry, a service coordinator at the Illinois Eye Institute, gathers information from patient Shameka Lewis-Coolidge during an appointment in Chicago. With the program known as “Obamacare” only weeks away from its key launch date, hectic preparations are now in motion in communities across the country to deal with one of its major practical challenges: hiring and training a small army of instant experts who can explain the intricacies of health insurance to people who’ve never had it. More than 100 nonprofits and related organizations have been recruited by the federal government to sign up “navigators” who can help the 30 million uninsured people who can now gain coverage.

CHICAGO (AP) — With the program known as “Obamacare” only weeks away from its key launch date, hectic preparations are in motion in communities across the country to deal with one of its major practical challenges: hiring and training a small army of instant experts who can explain the intricacies of health insurance to people who’ve never had it.

More than 100 nonprofits and related organizations, which specialize in everything from running soup kitchens to organizing farm workers, have been recruited by the federal government to sign up “navigators” to help the 30 million uninsured people who can now gain coverage.

Many of the groups have little expertise in health insurance. And the timeline for training the workers is tight. According to the new health law, people can begin shopping among the new policies on Oct. 1. The enrollment period lasts six months. Coverage begins in January.

“I think there’s a lot of concern about whether, with all these state requirements, they are going to be ready to go,” said Katie Keith, a former research professor at Georgetown University, who has been tracking the heath care legislation. “You want people out there educating consumers.”

Deploying the guides for the uninsured is one of the first hurdles for the new health system as it transitions from an abstract political debate in Washington to a real-life process in communities. It is one of the steps government officials are concerned about as critics warn that the Affordable Care Act could become a “train wreck.”

The guides will be sent to community events with laptops to help people sign up for insurance online. They will work at food banks, shelters, churches and free clinics where the uninsured are likely to be.

The short time available for training raises questions about how prepared the workers will be to answer people’s questions about the different policies and government subsidies available. Community groups received the course materials for the 20-hour training only days ago. Many have just begun to post the openings on job boards.

A small scream came from Tara McCollum Plese when she was asked whether her group, Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, has hired any of the 45 workers authorized in its federal grant. “Ack! No,” she said Thursday. Her group has posted a job description, she said, and is now flooded with inquiries for the positions, which pay about $15 an hour. She’s since heard one worker has been hired.

Not one navigator has been hired yet under the $2 million grant obtained by the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. The Illinois Eye Institute, which will help with enrollment in the Chicago area, plans to train a dozen staffers for the task.

The work will be more difficult than what most other…Continued here:

Feds to Texas: No waiver on testing in grades 3-8

Federal officials have refused to excuse Texas from standardized testing requirements for students in grades three through under the No Child Left Behind law.

The state Legislature recently approved a law easing testing for some elementary and middle school students.

TexasEducationCommissionerMichaelWilliamsIt sought to exempt high-performing students on math and reading tests in grades three, five and eight from taking those tests in the fourth, sixth and seventh grades.

But the law required a waiver from No Child Left Behind rules mandating annual testing in grades through eight.

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams wrote to the U.S. Department of Education in July, asking if those rules could be waved.

He announced late Monday that…Continued here:

Former Harris deputy constable charged with official oppression

constablechargedDash board cameras from Pct. 4 Constables office shows the arrest of five members of a north Houston family, After David B. Scherz Jr. allegedly ran a stop sign. One deputy constable kicks Scherz in the side as another officer holds him down. All charges against the family were dismissed by prosecutors for lack of probable cause. Photos courtesy of Scherz family

Monday, authorities said.

Drummond is accused of taking part in the arrest of David Scherz Jr., 26, on Sept. 10, 2011.

A dash-cam video from one of the patrol cars at the scene shows Scherz being held to the ground.

A constable identified as Drummond could be seen on the video kicking him several times in the rib.

The stop, outside Scherz’s home in the 17000 block of Ridge Top Drive, led to his entire family being arrested and jailed.

All charges against Scherz and four relatives were dropped last year by Harris County prosecutors.

They determined there was no probable cause for the arrests.

Civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen, who is representing Scherz in a federal lawsuit, said he was glad to hear of…Continued here:

Aggies to say goodbye to Reveille VII at Friday memorial

Eagle photo/Stuart Villanueva

Grant Rollo, a member of Texas Corps of Cadets mascot Company E-2, hugs Reveille VII at the Corps of Cadets Center on the Texas A&M campus in this February 2009 file photo taken when her retirement was announced.



The public is invited to a Friday evening tribute for the former First Lady of Aggieland.

Reveille VII, the American Collie who served as Texas A&M’s mascot from 2001 to 2008, succumbed to a respiratory complication May 30, but officials decided to wait until students returned to campus for the fall semester before officially bidding farewell. She was 12 1/2 years old.

The memorial, which will include attendance by all units in the Corps of Cadets, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Reed Arena. Free parking will be available at several nearby lots.

A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin and Student Body President Reid Joseph are scheduled to address the crowd. The program will include… Read full story here:

College Station man charged with possession of nearly 2.5 pounds of marijuana

Authorities charged a 20-year-old College Station man with state jail felony drug possession after finding almost 2.5 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop, according to the arrest report.

Adam Ray Devillez faces up to two years in prison if convicted on a charge of possession of more than four ounces but less than five pounds of marijuana.

According to the court document, a sheriff’s deputy pulled him over Tuesday for disregarding…Read story here: