Abbott Announces 2018 Re-Election Campaign: Your Roundup
Plus: Trump’s border wall would kill a Texas wildlife refuge, Texas’s redistricting trial comes to a close, and a Houston Texan gets arrested in Austin.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Sure… absolutely, congratulations. Nobody else can get engaged tonight.”
—Singer Trisha Yearwood after her husband, country star Garth Brooks, stopped mid-concert in Oklahoma City to offer to pay for the honeymoon of a couple from Bedford who got engaged while Brooks performed, according to WFAA.
Game Of Thrones—Governor Greg Abbott announced on Friday that he will run for a second term, officially kicking off his 2018 re-election campaign. “To keep Texas the very best state in the United States, I’m running for re-election,” Abbott told a crowd of 400 supporters in downtown San Antonio, according to the Austin American-Statesman. “Texas is the Lone Star State for a reason. We stand apart as a model for the rest of the nation. Now I need your help to write the next chapter in our extraordinary history. Together, we will keep Texas the most exceptional state in America.” So far the path looks pretty clear for Abbott. The only opponent to have officially thrown his or her name into the ring is Jeffrey Payne, a Democratic businessman from Dallas who filed paperwork to launch his candidacy on Friday. “Texas needs a governor who believes in real Texas values, like integrity, honesty, freedom and independence,” Payne said in a statement, according to the Dallas Voice. “It’s time we stopped wasting our time and money on silly legislation and start investing our time finding ways to help Texans, their families, and businesses prosper.” Payne has a tall task ahead of him if he wants to dethrone Abbott, and it’s early enough in the race that more established challengers could still emerge. But for now, Abbott’s the overwhelming favorite. As the Statesman notes, it’s been 23 years since Texas had a Democrat for Governor, and that streak will probably stay alive through 2018.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Walled Off—Federal officials are concerned that construction of President Donald Trump’s border wall would all but destroy the 2,088-acre Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in South Texas near McAllen, the Texas Observer reported on Friday. Federal employees told the Observer that the Border Patrol plans to build an 18-foot levee wall stretching for three miles through the refuge, and the plans were reportedly made in secret to avoid pubic backlash. Workers were already drilling at the refuge to extract soil samples in preparation for the construction. According to the Observer, the refuge has been dubbed the “crown jewel of the national wildlife refuge system,” and it’s home to 400 bird species and 450 species of plants. The proposed plan for the wall calls for the construction of a new road and the clearing of refuge land on both sides of the wall for surveillance, cameras, and light towers. The Observer‘s report enraged environmental activists, who showed up at the refuge on Sunday to protest, carrying signs that read, “Please help me #SaveSantaAna by contacting your US senators and telling them #NoBorderWall,” according to the McAllen Monitor.
Map Battle—The sixth and final day of the trial over Texas’s congressional district maps came to a close on Saturday, when state lawyers went before a panel of three federal judges to make their final arguments for keeping the maps intact. Civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers argue the map was drawn to intentionally dilute the power of minority voters and with the intent to discriminate, while the state claims that the map was legally gerrymandered for purely political reasons. The map in question was drawn by a federal court as a temporary fix, and the state argued in court on Saturday that lawmakers were simply following the orders of the court when the map was permanently adopted in 2013. According to the Texas Tribune, the judges were not really buying that defense. One of the judges said on Saturday that he found “nothing in the record” that the 2013 lege considered any measures to fix voting rights violations declared by another court at the time. Another judge criticized the state for withholding documents and testimony that would help shed light on the lege’s map making decisions. It’s unclear when the judges will hand down a ruling.
Rough Start—Former University of Texas at Austin running back and current Houston Texans rookie D’Onta Foreman was arrested in Austin on Sunday and charged with misdemeanor charges for possession of marijuana and possessing an unlawful weapon, according to the Houston Chronicle. An attorney for Foreman, a third-round draft pick who rushed for 2,028 yards for the Longhorns last season, said Foreman was in a car with friends when police stopped them and searched the car after smelling marijuana. Foreman told police about his legally-owned handgun before officers searched his car, and he said the marijuana belonged to a friend and that he would submit to a drug test to prove his innocence, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The Texans’s training camp starts next week, and it’s unclear how the team or the NFL will handle Foreman’s arrest. “We are aware of the situation involving D’Onta Foreman, and we are gathering more information,” the Texans said in a statement. As San Antonio Express-News columnist Mike Finger noted on Twitter, Foreman’s arrest means each of the top three single-season rushing leaders at UT have been detained at one point by Austin police (the other two are Ricky Williams and Cedric Benson).
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
Houston sat on bond funds amid an affordable housing crisis Houston Chronicle
Texas leads the country in foreign-bought farmland Austin American-Statesman
The Dallas Morning News editorial board examines life for the city’s working poor Dallas Morning News
Trump’s digital guru, San Antonian Brad Parscale, might be a key figure in the Russia investigation Newsweek
DACA holders in the Rio Grande Valley are concerned they’ll lose their protections McAllen Monitor