Republicans to sick kids: tough luck if you’re poor

Posted in US Senate Race, Bad Government Republicans, Health Care, District 31, 80th Legislature, Congress, The Lege at 1:59 am by dembones

Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) are among a group of Republicans in Congress speaking out against plans to increase federal funding for State Childrens’ Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP). Pres. George W. Bush has asked Congress for an additional $5 billion over five years in his budget; however, a bill before the House will allocate up to 10 times that amount. The AP is reporting that without large increases in SCHIP funding, most of Texas’ 1.4 million uninsured children will remain uncovered.

Rep. Carter disparaged a House bill proposing an increase large enough to cover all uninsured children as “a slow stroll down the road to socialism.” The AP reports that Sen. Cornyn “is concerned about the program’s ‘dramatic expansion,’ warning it could set the stage for a government-run, national health care system.”

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Ennis) thinks the President’s plan goes too far. He “wrote an alternative bill that would spend $500 million to $1.5 billion over the same timeline.” That is as little as one-tenth as much as the President is requesting.

The Texas Republicans’ criticisms run in stark contrast to public opinion, which is firmly behind the expansion of SCHIP. Recent polling shows that Americans favor [pdf] “offering a government-subsidized health insurance plan to individuals who do not have access to employer-paid health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid” by a three-to-one margin (WSJ/Harris May 8).

State Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) broke down in tears on the floor of the Texas House in the waning hours of the 80th regular session to convey the lengths he was willing to go to restore SCHIP coverage to 127,000 uninsured Texas children. He allied with Speaker Tom Craddick (R-Midland) and wielded the gavel for hours at a time, refusing to recognize members of both parties who sought to be recognized to make a motion to vacate the chair. Turner made it clear that he would bargain with the devil to restore coverage for those 127,000 children. Yet, if Congress does not pass and Pres. Bush does not sign a bill to increase SCHIP funding by an amount significantly higher than what the President is requesting, many of those 127,000 children will remain uncovered.

Texas Republicans are leading the charge to stab Turner in the back and render worthless the bargain he made.

The intense emotions and passionate debate over a matter, literally, of life or death for our nation’s 11.6 million uninsured children [pdf] will reach a fever pitch as Congress takes up this issue, with votes coming perhaps this week. The National Academy for State Health Policy’s Chip Central web site provides a great deal of material on this issue, including a side-by-side comparison [pdf] of three SCHIP reauthorization proposals under consideration.


TX-Sen: Democratic Primary, Experience And Money Needed To Win

Posted in US Senate Race, Election 2008, 2008 Primary, Uncategorized at 12:47 pm by wcnews

As reported at EOW yesterday Rick Noriega went down to the Valley earlier in the week. On that visit not only did Noriega, as is his MO, “speak truth to power”, and beat Sen. Cornyn over the head with his own record of neglect for the Valley, he also tried to gently encourage Mikal Watts to “stand aside” in the US Senate race, and let the more experienced candidate go forward against Texas’ failed US Senator.

In reaction to Noriega’s visit Mikal Watts went down to the Valley too and again trotted out his “endorsers” in the Valley to show his support down there. While there will be endorsements for both candidates from this area and, eventually, who will be declared the “winner” someday - if there is such a thing - of Valley endorsements, we’ll just have to wait and see. But because of Watts’ millions those endorsements will be looked at with skepticism.

Whether Draft Noriega bloggers will be able to reach our September goal is not, and should not, be looked at as the only marker of whether Noriega is the people powered candidate in this race. While blogs have increased scrutiny in politics, and given voice to previously voiceless, we are not a substitute for the previous ways of fundraising and campaigning. Our campaign is only one, and we hope an important part, of a larger campaign to show and help spread the word that Rick Noriega is the people’s candidate in the race for US Senate in Texas in 2008.

What the Democratic explorers’ Valley actions show is two different types of candidates. Watts, it appears, is trying to garner endorsement and votes the only way an inexperienced, wealthy candidate can, with money. Noriega, on the other hand, is trying to garner endorsements and votes the way a non-millionaire, politician, with a record of achievement best can, by trumpeting that record and asking people to join up with him and trust in his proven record of service.

It’s been said a few times already in this early stage of the primary, that while money is important, it’s not everything. It will continue to be said as long as these two candidates are involved. It’s also been said that if money was the “only” thing it took to win an election we’d be in Gov. Sanchez’s second term right now. While, we can hopefully assume, Watts is a much better inexperienced candidate than Sanchez was, what Democrats need most is a well financed and experienced candidate to take out Sen. Cornyn. With one of these two candidates being the likeliest to get the nomination, Noriega is the only one with the needed experience. The money can be raised in time to beat Cornyn, Watts cannot make up for his inexperience in time. The only way to get an experienced, well-funded candidate is for Watts to step aside and for Democrats in Texas to fund the experienced candidate, Rick Noriega, with all our might.

I also came across this from KERA in Dallas, Commentary: Texas Democrats. It’s about the Democrats chances in 2008 and Democratic resurgence in Texas, which has thus far been mainly in the urban areas. But there was this little blurb in it about Rick Noriega.

The key, of course, is Hispanic voters. It is their strength in South Texas that has prompted Dan Weiser to predict a strong run for Houston legislator and veteran of the war in Afghanistan Rick Noriega in the Democratic race to take on Republican Senator John Cornyn next year. Noriega may not win in the fall. Incumbents are hard to beat. But if he gets past the primary, he may well make the way for other Democrats in other years. “One day,” said [Dan Weiser, a long-time expert in the politics of the Democratic party], “we’ll wake up and the Hispanic giant will have voted.” That will be the day the Democrats rise from the cities to take on suburban, Republican Texas.

I’m not to familiar with Dan Weiser but he seems to think Noriega provides Democrats the best chance against Cornyn.


Noriega In The Valley

Posted in US Senate Race, Election 2008, 2008 Primary, Democratic Events, Around The State at 10:22 am by wcnews

While slamming Sen. Cornyn, State Rep. Rick Noriega is also hoping to win over Mikal Watts to his side before the filing deadline. It might be better for all Democrats in Texas if Watts started his political career as a judge. Either way the story in the Rio Grande Guardian is an excellent read, Noriega hopes Watts will step aside.

Noriega said he hoped Watts would stand aside and allow him a free run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in the 2008 general election. Noriega said he believed he had the stronger resume and greater potential appeal to Texas voters.

“Whether it is serving in the war, serving in the legislative body, serving on the border, serving in disaster relief efforts after Katrina, I believe I offer the strongest contrast to John Cornyn, whose fundamental philosophy is one of division,” Noriega said.

“I would love to earn Mikal’s support. With his support we have a much better chance of defeating Cornyn.”


Noriega joked that he ought to come down more often to the Valley, so that the region gets more attention from Cornyn. He said it was quite remarkable that Cornyn would announce a bill for a VA hospital in the Valley within days of confirming his decision to set up an exploratory committee.

“I need to come back more often so the Valley can, maybe, get their levees fixed, get their interstate built, get better health care,” Noriega said. “I’ll keep coming back so that the Valley can finally be paid attention, after six years of the junior Senator not knowing where the Valley was on the map. If it holds people’s feet to the fire, I am coming down here more often.”

Noriega said his intention was to “speak truth to power” over the coming months on behalf of millions of Texans who have not had proper representation in the U.S. Senate for the past six years. “This senator decided early on to represent one Texan – the President of the United States. He has carried George Bush’s brief case. He has not represented the 22 million people that live in the state of Texas,” Noriega said.

Noriega offered an example of what he believes is inadequate representation. “You have a united border leadership saying that a border wall will not work. Not to listen to that advice is not to represent the people of South Texas,” Noriega said. “The question is will Texas voters hold him (Cornyn) accountable for voting for the border wall on two occasions? No one is holding his feet to the fire.”


Noriega was just as critical of Cornyn over his help for Valley veterans. Last week, Cornyn announced he was filing legislation that would require the VA to report on the inpatient care needs of Valley veterans.

‘The veterans have been screaming for a VA hospital for years. It has taken Mr. Cornyn six years and the threat of opposition to finally speak up on the issue,” Noriega said. “A veterans’ hospital would have been my issue the first year, not the sixth year. Not when it is election time.”

Noriega said his duties in the National Guard in the Valley have included “putting people on buses, either to Kingsville, to El Paso, or to Sam Houston, so some poor guy can get an appointment he made four months ago.” He said more people need to realize that Texas does not end in San Antonio.

“This is one of the most patriotic parts of the state. You look at the number of people who serve from the Valley, it is quite impressive. It’s powerful and it’s moving. The people should have a voice,” Noriega said.

Noriega concluded by saying he would be revealing a “very impressive list” of endorsements from Valley leaders “at the appropriate time.” He mentioned this in response to a question as to whether Watts had a lock on the Democratic Party bosses in South Texas, as some political pundits have said.

That’s good stuff there and what Texans and Texas Democrats have been waiting for, for some time now. If you like what he’s saying don’t forget to let him know. If Sen. Cornyn thinks he can spend five years “carr[ying] George Bush’s brief case”, and then take the year before the election to make up for it, he’s got another thing coming. As Rick Noriega points about the border wall and, add to that the recent dissing of local sheriffs by Gov. Perry, it’s likely there will be major hemorrhaging of GOP support in The Valley in ‘08. Especially if we have Rick Noriega speaking truth to power, like this, for the next 15 months.

Two upcoming Noriega events. He will become Commander of the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, which traces it’s roots back to the Alamo.

Also he will be in Austin on Friday. Come join his for coffee. It’s tomorrow, Friday, July 27th, 9:30 am in the side room at Enoteca, 1610 S. Congress Ave. Directions here.


US Senate Race Round Up

Posted in Election 2008, US Senate Race, 2008 Primary, 2006 Democratic Candidates, The Budget, Around The State at 4:03 pm by wcnews

The El Paso Times has an article up on the Democratic Explorers, Race for the TX Democratic nomination seat is on.

A soldier and a lawyer will be fighting for the hearts, minds and, most importantly, the votes of Texas Democrats next year, as they try to become the party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate.

Check out this article written last week by Dave McNeely (former AAS political writer) on Rick Noriega’s announcement, Rick Noriega faces uphill battle for U.S. Senate. Uphill but nowhere near impossible.

Jabbing at the Republican incumbent, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, as a “cheerleader” for the administration of President George W. Bush “for a variety of failed policies,” Noriega said a change in representation is necessary to bring a change in direction.

“A lot of the problem we see today is (that) stubbornness is not a foreign policy,” Noriega said.

Noriega, a sturdy 49-year-old legislator who has worked in educational administration, last week announced formation of an exploratory committee at a press conference on the state capitol’s front lawn.

Noriega, with buzz-cut hair and an erect military bearing, chose a backdrop of the memorial to those who died at the Alamo to underline his 26 years in the armed services, including a stint in Afghanistan with the Texas Army National Guard.

“Growing up in Houston, my family taught me the importance of serving my community,” Noriega said in a prepared statement. “I’ve been privileged to serve this country as a soldier, my state as an elected representative, and Houston as a community leader focused on education. The call to service has been a big part of my life, and I am taking the next step in answering that call.”

“Standing in the shadows of this monument, I’m reminded of our state’s great tradition and our duty to speak out when things have gone off the rails,” Noriega said. “Today, our nation is headed in the wrong direction, led by those whose choice is to divide Americans to maintain power.

“They ignore the will of the people about the war in Iraq. They ignore the needs of the people for health care, college education, and a better standard of living. They ignore the lessons of our history: that America’s strength lies in our unity and diversity.

“John Cornyn represents the worst of these trends,” Noriega said. “And it’s time for him to go.”

Perry at Brains and Eggs adds his great commentary, The 18th:

A few of the names I can remember without Googling: Sam Houston. “Pappy” O’Daniel. Lyndon Johnson. Price Daniel. Ralph Yarborough. Lloyd Bentsen.

John Tower. Phil Gramm. The current occupants, Senator Perjury Technicality and Senator Box Turtle.

Mikal Watts has a press release out (no link) attacking Sen. Cornyn on his disregard for veterans health care (more on that below):

“In 2003, John Cornyn told veterans in my hometown that they’ve earned better health care and should get it,” said Watts, a native of Corpus Christi. “Four long years of failure later our veterans still deserve the health care, but now they also deserve a senator who can deliver on our country’s promise to them. When I’m Senator, we will kick the political hacks out and make sure our veterans get the health care they deserve.”


The latest USA Survey poll, released June 19, 2007, showed that only 42% of Texans approve of the way Cornyn is handling his job, with 43% disapproving. The poll demonstrates that Cornyn is the least popular US Senator standing for re-election in 2008.

No matter the Democratic nominee it’s obvious that Sen. Corunyn has to go. The Lone Star Report has two excellent reports on Sen. Cornyn’s shameful record of failing the troops (.pdf) and on the deficit(s) and as Bush’s lapdog (.pdf). You can also dress him up like a paper doll.

With the Democratic field now at three, John Cornyn was caught sneaking Karl “Turd BlossomRove into and out of a fundraiser. The question must be asked why is Cornyn sneaking him around and why is Rove agreeing to it? I thought Karl Rove was a fantastic GOP political operative, I can’t imagine why they would want to hide Rove’s involvement with Sen. Cornyn. Especially with his poll numbers so low. Anyway Turd Blossom came and went from the fundraiser and purportedly, “gave a really” nice speech”. Sure he did.

Sen. Cornyn can blame poll methodology all he likes but if the thinks running on the same lies Republicans have been telling for the last four or five decades will get him reelected than he’s fooling himself:

Recent polls, though, have shown Cornyn’s approval rates falling. A June Survey USA poll showed 42 percent approved of his work, while 43 percent disapproved.

This week, Cornyn called the methodology of those polls questionable and said the election happens after each party has chosen a candidate. No significant primary challenge is expected in the Republican U.S. Senate race.

“Right now, the other side hasn’t picked their candidate,” he said during a news conference. “We don’t know what they’re going to propose.”

Cornyn said he planned to run on Republican principles of low taxes and regulation, restoration of law and order and opportunities for education and achievement.

While Cornyn’s mistakes are well documented, Stop Cornyn, Democrats must choose who will take him out first. I look forward to a primary that the people of Texas will focus on that will help Democrats choose a candidate that can help turn our country and state around.


Wrap-Up Of Yesterday’s Noriega Announcement - UPDATED

Posted in US Senate Race, Election 2008, 2008 Primary, 2006 Democratic Candidates, Around The State at 10:59 am by wcnews

OffTheKuff has the definitive list of traditional media and blog coverage of Rick Noriega’s announcement yesterday.

Be sure and check out the KVUE video. (Tip, click and view the larger video.)

Here’s an English Translation of the Spanish Q&A from yesterday. (Great job Stace!!)

Also drop him a few bucks if you can.

[UPDATE]: South Texas Chisme points out that the “so-called liberal media” is at it again, Pitiful press coverage.

So, I’m going through the press reports of Rick Noriega’s announcement and I was very disappointed to find the articles were written from a Republican’s perspective. I know. I know. What should I expect from a suck up press.

Chisme notes that the AAS article is about Perry - G’s reporting has always made clear his bias toward Perry - and the DMN article is all about Sen. Cornyn. As CouldBeTrue said, “Countering this kind of press coverage is why I blog.” Amen, that’s one of the main reasons we all started blogging. And It’s sad to see the Texas media following the GOP’s play book so blatantly.

Texas GOP Has Issues, Democrats Must Exploit Them

Posted in US Senate Race, Election 2008, 2008 Primary, Commentary, Around The State at 10:40 am by wcnews

The Chronic’s piece yesterday, Welcome to Election ‘08! , about Rick Noriega’s announcement and a Texas GOP trick to try and take away from the announcement makes it obvious that the GOP is worried about this Senate race. The excerpt below does a pretty good job of showing just what kind of mess they’re in:

It was scarcely an ebullient exercise. In one of the smaller conference rooms in the Omni, to a crowd that was mostly party operatives, Perry announced that his former secretary of state Roger Williams will head up the fundraising and grass-roots campaign (everyone had been wondering why he’d quit in June, and the rumors that he was seeking office seemed a bit premature.) They’d be targeting traditional conservative values and traditional conservative voters and make a traditional conservative grassroots campaign. So, no shockers there.

But there was a tacit admission this will be a hard campaign: Three million new voters, many from out of state, who may not be hardcore Republicans and would need winning over. Hispanic voters who might not be very interested in backing the Republican immigration policy. Of course, no-one was churlish enough to mention Iraq, but even Cornyn was commenting that the GOP had never really treated Texas as a state that needed a big investment of time and money – an implicit statement that now it may be “in play”.

Then there’s the lack of pizzazz. It’s always said by campaign gurus that a good candidate needs a little bit of Elvis, and it seemed fairly missing today. (More than one hack noted that it had all the woo-hoo factor of Chris Bell’s abortive campaign for governor last year.) And then there was the thought of who wasn’t there – not just the state officials were AWOL, but the heavy hitters that had shaped so many Republican campaigns in recent years. No Rove, no DeLay, the heavy-hitters that put real fire in the fundraising belly. Fair enough – Williams is no noob, having been a cash-gatherer and grassroots planter for every major Texas campaign in a decade and a half, but there’s a question of where the big motivators and big visionaries may be. Plus the bad news that, in the presidential primary race, the GOP is currently trailing the Democrats by $30 million.

A campaign starting this early to rally the base, to try and attract new voters, and attempt to hold independent and Hispanic voters shows the trouble the Texas GOP is in for ‘08. After ‘06 some said that Texas is usually two years behind national political trends. If Texas keeps going the way it did in ‘06, in ‘08, that will prove to be correct. Sen. Cornyn’s and the Texas GOP’s intolerant stance on immigration will keep the base, aka “wing-nuts”, on board, but it won’t do much to keep or bring in new voters. The fact that America’s biggest issue - IRAQ - wasn’t even mentioned shows had scared Cornyn and the Texas GOP are of that issue, which won’t help either.

The article points out that the GOP is saddled with a dud for a candidate in the 2008 Senate race. A candidate who didn’t have to worry about that issue in 202 and was elected then because he was able to tie himself to, at that time, an extremely popular president. Now that candidate is running for reelection - not only without a popular president, but he’s trying to distance himself form that president - and has a record of incompetence and destruction that he has to try and run away from.

The Texas GOP should have no trouble keeping it’s base with it’s stances on the “war” - even though they don’t want to mention it - and their intolerant immigration stance. But they will struggle mightily with independents, Hispanics and new voters. It’s a party without a “rock star” or any of the “characters” it once had that gave the party more appeal. It’s message of tax cuts has not only grown stale and been proven wrong, see toll toads for example. It’s a party that’s strapped nationally - as the Democrats continue to out raise them - that will have to defend everywhere, with many US Senate seats up for grabs, and won’t be able to help the Texas GOP much when it finally needs it. (Hap tip to DNC Chair Howard Dean and his 50 state strategy, by the way). Not to mention the fact that it’s a party in turmoil, (remember Craddick’s meltdown), that’s less unified than it’s been since taking power in Texas.

Well it’s no doubt that the Texas GOP has issues. But for these issues to matter they must be exploited by an opposition party. As EOW has pointed out before let us begin. There’s no better way, nor a better candidate to begin exploiting those issues than Rick Noriega. Start today by donating to Rick Noriega’s run for the Senate.


Rick Noriega’s Announcement - [UPDATED]

Posted in US Senate Race, Election 2008, 2008 Primary at 1:25 pm by wcnews

Gardner Selby at PFTL had this report, Noriega sounds like candidate without exit strategy.

Standing outside the Capitol today, Democratic state Rep. Rick Noriega of Houston speculated that only personal catastrophe could deter him from trying for the U.S. Senate seat held by John Cornyn.

Noriega was at the Capitol to formally announce formation of an exploratory committee for the Senate race next year. He named Paul Hobby, the Democratic nominee for state comptroller in 1998 and the son of former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby, as the chairman of his committee, and Arthur Gochman, former president of the Academy sporting goods chain, as his treasurer.

Asked what would deter him from running, Noriega said: “I don’t know at this point separate (apart from) a devastating personal experience. … If some tragedy struck the Noriega family, I don’t know how we’d respond, frankly.”


His parents, Joe and Tommie, watched from the shade of a tree. “He’s got a lot of experience,” Joe Noriega said afterward. “He’s got good references.”

Texas Politics has a podcast of Rick Noriega’s announcement en español. They promise more blogging on this and an English podcast too. Check back for updates, EOW will post those when they become available. [UPDATE]: More from Texas Politics, including podcast of today’s announcement.

What would a Democratic event be without some GOP shenanigans? TO Blog has the story, I’m Calling Shenanigans.

That shenanigans was to setup a the GOP’s Disaster Victory’08″ lack of effort and to appoint Roger Williams scapegoat for the disaster to lead it.

[UPDATE]: There are some pictures of today’s event here.


Cornyn Avoiding Rick Noriega, Attacks Mikal Watts, Preview Of General Election

Posted in US Senate Race, Election 2008, 2008 Primary, Around The State at 9:53 am by wcnews

This SAEN article today, Cornyn comes out swinging let’s Rove do his dirty work ahead of a fundraising jaunt, more than likely is a preview of how a general election campaign will go involving Sen. John Cornyn and the two announced exploring Democratic candidates, Rick Noriega and Mikal Watts.

Cornyn has scheduled a series of fund-raisers for the weekend of July 20, featuring presidential adviser Karl Rove. But an invitation letter for the Harlingen event also plays off Republican reactions to trial lawyers.

“We will also have the opportunity to help the senator begin preparing for what appears to be a wealthy, self-financed personal injury lawyer opponent,” said a Cornyn campaign committee letter signed by James G. Springfield, CEO of Valley Baptist Health System in Harlingen.

A Cornyn fund-raising letter sent out last month by John Nau of Houston noted: “Unfortunately, John appears to have drawn a very wealthy personal injury lawyer Mikal Watts as a potential opponent.” (see text of letter here [.pdf].)

Of course Sen. Cornyn says nothing about Rick Noriega because he can’t smear him with any tried and true GOP talking points. With Cornyn and Rove never having served there’s nothing they can say to attack Noriega that will work to bring in the money donors in with Cornyn’s low approval ratings. He’s a veteran, worked on the border, and has a proven record of getting things done. That will make things much harder for Rove and Cornyn.

But with Mr. Watts it’s business as usual for the Texas GOP. Attack a rich trial lawyer who has millions of dollars, a “wishy-washy” stance on the issues, where he seems to be trying to be everything to everyone, which never works out. Let me say that the rich trial lawyer gambit that Republicans use is not something that EOW believes, but will be lapped up by the GOP base, on the fence supporters and contributors, and the so-called Texas liberal media will be trumpeting it free for the GOP the whole campaign if Watts gets the nomination. I’m not sure that all of Watts’ money can counter that.

That’s what we’re looking at. The same ‘ol GOP campaign we’ve been seeing in Texas for 30 or so years with Watts, or a new kind of campaign where the Republican incumbent may actually have to be held to account and answer for the record of he’s responsible for with Noriega.

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