Abby Rapoport

Cruz-in' for a Fight in Texas

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

Ted Cruz, who managed to force a run-off election with current Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, deserved his victory party Tuesday night. He had a strong showing despite being outspent by a considerable margin by his rival. Towards the end, Cruz benefitted from national attention as Sarah Palin and Tea Party groups pushed his candidacy. Support from the Club for Growth and Senator Jim DeMint also helped.

The Wisconsin Recall Won't Determine the Presidential Race

(Flickr/WisPolitics.com)

There's no question the stakes of the Wisconsin recall are high. As I wrote last week, if Governor Scott Walker survives the election next week—no matter how slim the margin—he's likely to claim a mandate. Since he's already a rock star among conservatives and anti-union activists, Walker would be in a good position to push further right. If he loses, it gives the labor movement one of its biggest victories in years.

However, the fate of Wisconsin is unlikely to determine the fate of the presidential election. It may not even determine the presidential race in Wisconsin.

Will Texas Voters Care About Billions in Education Cuts?

(Flickr/hpeguk)

Last year, during the biennial legislative session, Texas House Republicans approved a budget with a crippling $10 billion in cuts to public schools over the next two years—this despite warnings from educators that the results would be catastrophic. Several state senators fought to make the cuts only harmful rather than damning. In the end, Texas public schools lost $5.4 billion in the two-year budget, an unprecedented cut that's left districts and classrooms struggling to provide basic services.

Far-Off State Capitals Are More Corrupt

(Flickr/kmillard92)

A new paper shows that state capitals located in less-populated areas are more likely to breed corruption. The paper, authored by Filipe R. Campante of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Quoc-Anh Doh of Singapore Management University, tested what seems to be a logical idea: when lawmakers are more out of sight, they can get into more trouble. Turns out that in this case, the logical idea is the right one.

How Walker Loses in Wisconsin

(Flickr/WisPolitics.com)

The Wisconsin recall effort may look like a lost cause for the Democrats and union activists who hope to see Governor Scott Walker voted out in a couple weeks. Over at the Washington Post, Jenifer Rubin offered a piece titled "Democrats are dreading a Wisconsin wipeout." InTrade, the prediction market for anything and everything, shows Walker today with a 91 percent chance of winning

The Senate Race to Ridiculousness, Youtube Portrait

(Flickr/ malczyk)

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Texas was supposed to have its primaries done long ago, when the GOP's presidential candidate was still in contention. In that scenario, the Senate seat Kay Bailey Hutchison held for two decades would then go to Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. Dewhurst has for the most part been a loyal soldier to Governor Rick Perry and, with his millions in personal wealth, he could run a strong campaign while everyone else would be drowned out by presidential politics. Alas, the state's redistricting debacle meant the primaries were pushed back months.

A Plan to Privatize a State's Entire Male Prison System

(Flickr/Tim Pearce, Los Gatos)

It's been tough times for the prison privatization industry. The two biggest companies both have extra space thanks to a recent drop in the number of people sent to private prisons. The companies just can't seem to expand their share of the market. The poor guys really lost out when the Florida Senate killed a bill that would have privatized 27 prisons and displaced more than 3,500 workers. The lobbying was so aggressive, one senator with health problems actually had to get protection from her colleagues.

Dems Use Walker "Divide and Conquer" Remark to Their Advantage

(Flickr/WisPolitics.com)

After he pushed laws to limit collective bargaining for public employees, sparking mass protests last year, it's hardly surprising to discover that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told one of his biggest contributors that he favored right-to-work laws and would take a "divide and conquer" approach to union power. But when a video clip surfaced late last week, showing the governor saying just that, it offered his opponents a major opportunity.

Meet Tom Barrett

(Flickr/barret4wi)

Last night, Wisconsin Democrats chose Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett as their candidate to go up against Governor Scott Walker. Barrett's pretty well known to Wisconsinites, both as a U.S. congressman and as a previous gubernatorial candidate. But most of us weren't all that interested in Wisconsin until Walker passed his anti-union laws and the widespread protestss began last year. Since then, the race has developed a national following—and some say, has national implications.

Lugar Sounds the Alarm against GOP Extremism

(Flickr/ kennethkonica)

There's been a lot of talk about how veteran Senator Dick Lugar could have salvaged his campaign. The Indiana Republican was soundly defeated by nearly 20 points yesterday in  primary race against a Tea Party-backed challenger. He lost amid criticisms that he's too close to Obama and not dogmatic enough for the GOP.

In Voter ID Case, Court Tells Texas to Quit Stalling

(Flickr/whiteafrican)

In what read like a pretty clear smack-down, the federal court hearing the Texas voter ID case yesterday ordered the state to get its act together and quit stalling—or lose all hope of implementing a voter ID law by the November elections.

Planned Parenthood Can't Catch a Break

(Flickr/WeNews)

Planned Parenthood staffers might have been inclined to celebrate last Friday. That afternoon, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled Texas could not exclude Planned Parenthood from its Women's Health Program. On Monday a district judge had granted an injunction, forcing the state to pay Planned Parenthood clinics that served the WHP clients—low-income women who are not pregnant. The injunction was short-lived—the state attorney general appealed the decision to the 5th Circuit, which granted an emergency stay, allowing state health officials to start kicking out the Planned Parenthood clinics.

"Don't Say Gay" Bill Prompts Lawmaker to Say He's Gay

(Flickr/Steve Rhodes)

After weeks of discussion on a bill that would restrict students from talking about their sexuality in Missouri public schools, Republican state lawmaker Zach Wyatt decided he'd had enough. While it's virtually impossible for the bill to pass through the General Assembly at this point, Wyatt nonetheless called a press conference. He lambasted the bill—and then came out as gay.

His hometown newspaper, The Kirksville Daily Express covered the event, in which Wyatt introduced himself as "a proud Republican, a proud veteran and a proud gay man who wants to protect all kids." He didn't hold back in his comments:

Scott Walker Raises More Than Newt Gingrich

(Flickr/WisPolitics.com)

It's only a week until Wisconsin Democrats decide who will be the challenger in the gubernatorial recall that's grabbed the national spotlight. But while the polling shows a tight race between Governor Scott Walker and the two leading Democratic candidates, the numbers are out and the war for dollars is already won. Walker's a national favorite for conservative donors.

This Should Be Good News for Texas Planned Parenthood (But Isn't)

(Flickr/WeNews)

A judge today ruled that the state of Texas cannot exclude Planned Parenthood from its Women's Health Program, which offers basic reproductive health care for poor women.

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