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Chad’s Morning Brief: Battleground Texas Launches, Texting While Driving Legislation, & More

Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of February 27, 2013. Give Chad your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am.

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1. Battleground Texas Launches (link)

It is what the Democratic Party want more than anything. Texas to turn blue. Will it happen anytime soon? If Battleground Texas has their way it will and you should take them seriously.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the White House sanctioned group is optimistic, but know they have a daunting task ahead of them.

Leaders of Battleground Texas, the new White House-sanctioned group, said today they’re optimistic they can apply lessons drawn from the Obama campaign and make Texas more competitive for Democrats.

“With its diversity and size, Texas should always be a battleground state where every single election from city council all the way up to the White House is competitive,” said Jeremy Bird, senior adviser to Battleground Texas and the 2012 Obama campaign’s national field director, on a call with reporters to discuss the new operation.

But that hasn’t been the case, he said, noting that Republicans have an undefeated record in statewide races since 1996. He blamed a number of factors, including low turnout among Latinos that, with the right sort of grassroots efforts, Democrats can turn around.

Bird downplayed some of the implicit criticism he has leveled previously, when he has left an impression that beyond the state, there’s a view that Texas Democrats’ sluggishness is partly to blame for the sorry record.

“When only 54 percent of Latinos are registered and only 35 percent turn out on Election Day,” as happened in the 2008 presidential race, Bird said today, “it leads to a government for half the people by half the people.”

He also blamed GOP-controlled gerrymandering, which has helped Republicans keep a firm grip on the Legislature and congressional delegation despite demographic shifts that heavily favor Democrats.

Jenn Brown, the group’s new executive director, who will be based in Austin, served as the Obama campaign’s field director in Ohio. She said that winning campaign showed the importance of targeted person-to-person contact with voters.

“It is what will help us win in Texas,” she said.

Bird conceded that the task ahead is daunting. “Texas is a massive state – 26 million people, 22 to 23 media markets.” Harris County alone has more people than half the states. He also conceded that without good candidates – something Texas Democrats have struggled to recruit for tough statewide races for years – it won’t be enough simply to register more Democratic voters.

“When the time is right there will be a competitive statewide race,” he said. “We want to put in place the infrastructure and have the electorate catch up to the population such that folks are encouraged to run…. We’re not oblivious to the difficulty here.”

Whether you want to admit it or not, these folks know what they are doing. The Obama ground game in the two Presidential elections was top notch. The people running Battleground Texas are smart and will take advantage if Republicans take Texas for granted.

Battleground Texas already has a lot to work with. Harris County, Travis County, South Texas, and Dallas County are already blue areas, though it could be argued that Dallas County isn’t completely liberal yet. The population centers in the state are trending in the way Battleground Texas likes. That doesn’t mean they can flip Texas in 2016 though.

I see this group aiming for 2020 to turn Texas purple, which I believe could happen. Between now and then this group will attempt to get Democrats elected on the City and County levels. You start local and spread and that is just what they will do.

The battle for Texas is on. What will Republicans do?

2. Texting While Driving Legislation (link)

There are a couple of articles out today about a possible texting while driving bill. Currently in Texas it is against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to use a mobile device. However, some lawmakers including Republicans feel as though that isn’t good enough.

Republican Tom Craddick filed House Bill 63 yesterday relating to texting while driving. According to the Texas Tribune, advocates spoke in favor of a ban for educational reasons.

“The point [of the ban] is to take a stand and say that texting while driving kills people and injures people,” said Brooke Mabry, a former special education teacher who was rear-ended by a driver who was texting and can no longer teach due to her injuries.

You don’t pass laws to try and educate people! Studies have shown that texting bans in many cases have actually resulted in more accidents.

This whole debate is just stupid in my opinion. I’m tired of lawmakers passing feel good legislation. We have laws on the books that would deal with reckless driving and a law on the books that deals with teens who drive. Enforce what we have.

3. Cornyn on the Sequester (link)

Senator John Cornyn is speaking out about the sequester. Cornyn doesn’t see the doom and gloom that the Obama administration is trying to convince people of.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he plans to make the case to other Republicans and the public that despite warnings from the Pentagon that the mandated cuts will be devastating, the overall amount of defense spending will actually still rise.

Cornyn conceded that until now he had been parroting whatDefense Secretary Leon Panetta continuously warns — that automatic, government-wide cuts could jeopardize national security.

But the veteran senator said he looked into it and will now argue that even if the cuts go through on March 1, the Pentagon will still see its budget go up.

Cornyn’s preview of what he hopes will be a Senate GOP argument is significant since defense cuts are usually something Republicans adamantly oppose. He will surely run up against some in his party who strongly disagree.

To be sure, Cornyn called himself a defense “hawk” and did say the role of the federal government should be first and foremost to protect American citizens.

But he also believes that the deficit should be paramount since the United States has ended its fighting in Iraq and is winding down the war in Afghanistan.He added that if “God forbid” another 9/11 happens, Congress would act.

Still, Senate Republicans are considering a proposal this week that could alleviate some impacts of the cuts by giving the president flexibility to decide where they would occur.

However, GOP sources tell CNN that Republicans have not yet worked out among themselves whether their measure would give the president that flexibility on all domestic agencies and programs or just on defense.

GOP sources say they are likely to work that out when Senate Republicans huddle for their regular lunch on Tuesday.

The $85 billion in forced spending cuts were written into law intentionally to be indiscriminate.

Other Top Stories:

Most Think Sequester is a Bad Idea, But Want Cuts Made

Hagel Approved

Chris Christie Caves In

DHS To Release Illegal Immigrants

Republicans Say Spending Cuts Will Happen

Bill Seeks to Protect Religious Groups

Perry Backs Testing Changes

TX Senate Hears Testimony on Abortion Bill

These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show. Tune in mornings 8:30-11am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com.

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