Texas Candidates Set as Filing Period Ends: Your Texas Roundup
Plus: A former Texas judge allegedly sexually assaulted a teenager, a Houston teenager was arrested for supposedly helping ISIS, and the Rockets win their tenth straight game.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“In my sixteen years as a doctor, I have never seen anyone come back like that.”
—Dallas Police Lieutenant Alex Eastman to the Dallas Morning News. Eastman used an AED to revive a man who had collapsed after suffering a heart attack while running in the Dallas Marathon on Sunday.
Race Is On
The period to file for the 2018 elections ended on Monday, so candidates for races across the state are now set. As the Texas Tribune notes, there are five newly open seats in Congress due to a wave of recent retirements. Four state lawmakers announced campaigns for those seats, so there could be significant turnover in Austin as well as D.C. Every major statewide official is up for re-election next year, but none face serious challenges. Governor Greg Abbott’s toughest competition comes from Lupe Valdez, who recently resigned from her position as Dallas County Sheriff, or perhaps from Houston businessman Andrew White, son of former Governor Mark White. Both Valdez and White are Democrats. Former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson may give current Land Commissioner George P. Bush a run for his money. Meanwhile, Comptroller Glenn Hegar and Attorney General Ken Paxton both run unchallenged in the primaries. There’s been talk of the Texas Democratic Party having trouble scrounging up candidates, but Democrats will be challenging all 36 U.S. House seats, 14 out of 15 state Senate seats, and 133 out of 150 state House seats, according to the Tribune.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Former state judge Paul Pressler was accused in a lawsuit this fall of sexually assaulting a teenage boy. According to the Texas Tribune, the lawsuit, which was filed in October, alleges Pressler sexually assaulted Duane Rollins, his former bible study student, over a period of years. The abuse allegedly started in the late 1970s and continued after Rollins left Houston for college in 1983. Pressler, a former justice on the Fourteenth Court of Appeals who served in the Texas state house from 1957 to 1959, gained notoriety as a member of the religious right. He denied the allegations in a court filing. The lawsuit alleges Pressler anally penetrated Rollins in Pressler’s master bedroom study, told Rollins he was “special,” and assured him that the sexual contact was their God-sanctioned secret. Rollins is seeking more than $1 million in damages. Pressler’s attorney did not respond to the Tribune’s specific questions about the lawsuit, instead saying the case was “frivolous” and calling Rollins a “troubled man” who has a criminal record.
The FBI arrested an eighteen-year-old Houstonian on Friday, accusing the teen of helping ISIS. The agency alleges that after a months-long investigation, it found that Kaan Sercan Damlarkaya distributed instructions for making explosives, tried to join ISIS and attempted to convince others to do the same on online terrorist message boards, and was willing to carry out an attack in the United States, KPRC reported on Monday. Damlarkaya allegedly said online that he tried and failed to travel to Syria twice: first in 2014 when he was fifteen, and then again the following year. He also “bought parts” to make his own AK-47, which the FBI determined was part of a “planned operation in the United States,” according to the complaint. “He ‘hated living in this world’ and instead wanted ‘shahada’ [martyrdom], and said if he could not make it” to the Middle East “he would ‘attack the kuffar [non-Muslims] here [in the United States]’” the complaint said. “It was his ‘dream’ to be a martyr and ‘have the biggest explosion’ and ‘send the kuffar flying.’” Damlarkaya faces a twenty-year maximum prison sentence if he is convicted.
The Houston Rockets beat the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night, the tenth straight win for a Rockets team that is really, really good this year. In fact, the Rockets have the best record in the NBA, with 21 wins and just 4 losses. The team’s offense is prolific as usual, averaging the second-most points per game in the league. That’s led by MVP candidate James Harden’s league-best 32 points per game—not a surprise for a team coached by offensive wizard Mike D’Antoni, especially after the addition of superstar point guard Chris Paul in the off season (Paul has played eleven games after missing the first part of the season to injury). Perhaps more surprising is the Rockets’ newfound defense. For pretty much the first time in the James Harden era, Houston is solid when not scoring baskets, thanks in part to a number of key additions during the off season, including Paul. “The Rockets have gotten much better at protecting the rim and other high-value spots on the court that once troubled them; the team’s weakest defenders are performing better (or getting luckier?) than they did in the past; and Houston has used its own scoring ability to pay dividends on the other end,” FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring writes.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
Austin firefighters say the department responded poorly to sexual harassment complaints Austin American-Statesman
A Guatemalan immigrant died of hypothermia near Marfa El Paso Times
Texas families are really worried about losing healthcare for their kids Dallas Morning News
Farenthold’s office is a “frat house on the hill” with “tawdry tales” of sexual harassment New York Times
Check out this guy’s Astros-themed Christmas lights display Houston Chronicle