Election Election en-us Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Wed, 1 Oct 2014 04:10:04 GMT Synapse CMS 10 144 25 Local Professor Weighs in on Upcoming Governor's Race Debate Election Tue, 30 Sep 2014 1:42:14 PM Sara Donchey Local Professor Weighs in on Upcoming Governor's Race Debate

CORPUS CHRISTI - A political showdown is set in Dallas tonight as Senator Wendy Davis will debate Attorney General Greg Abbott in their race for the governor's seat.

David Smith teaches political science at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and expects that tonight's debate will be less about talking points and more about each candidate's plan of action.

"In the first debate it was a little more relaxed and not so spirited in terms of what they were going back and forth on," Smith saidgu. "This time I really expect them to start mentioning and noticing their issues and how their differences lie."

The key to the success of the debate, Smith says, is who will woo the voters who identify as Independents to their side.

"I think whoever does the better job of addressing those voters needs or those potential voters needs or issues has the largest chance for achieving success."

Many expect there to be a fair share of mud-slinging.

Davis has accused Abbott of a cover-up involving economic incentive money, accusations which Abbott denies as a political sham by Davis.

For some students at TAMUCC, the drama is not what they'll tune in to see.

Hannah Chipman says she's far more interested to hear about fiscal issues rather than political controversy or even social issues.

"This generation is going to take on a lot of debt," Chipman said. "I would like to know on both sides of the aisle what both candidates plan on doing about it."

As a democrat running for public office in a red state, Davis has an uphill battle to fight.

But Smith says it's still anyone's game.

"I will never say never, but for 20 years the Republicans have held statewide office in a very tight gridlock."


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Davis Accuses Abbott of Incentive Fund 'Cover Up' Election Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:15:23 PM Associated Press Davis Accuses Abbott of Incentive Fund 'Cover Up'

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Democrat Wendy Davis is accusing Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott of a "cover up" involving economic incentive dollars on the eve of their final debate in the Texas governor's race.

Davis said Monday that her opponent failed as a watchdog over Gov. Rick Perry's Texas Enterprise Fund. A state audit last week revealed the fund awarded roughly $172 million in taxpayer dollars to companies that never submitted applications.

Abbott's office has denied open records requests for copies of fund documents that auditors say never existed. Aides to Abbott didn't immediately return messages Monday.

A recent ruling from Abbott's office also continues to withhold documents related to Texas recruiting Tesla Motors, even though the company picked Nevada for its $5 billion battery plant.

Davis and Abbott debate Tuesday night in Dallas.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Texas Political Ad Spending 2nd Most in US Election Wed, 24 Sep 2014 3:08:51 PM Associated Press Texas Political Ad Spending 2nd Most in US

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas voters already tired of Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis dueling in television ads with Election Day still six weeks out should brace for plenty more.

Figures released Wednesday show Texas trailing only Pennsylvania in political TV ad spending this election year, flooding airwaves with an estimated $38.6 million spent so far on promoting and attacking candidates in state-level races, according to data compiled by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity.

The governor's race between Abbott and Davis accounts for only a third of that spending - but that will surely change as Nov. 4 draws closer. For now, here's a closer look at who's spent what in Texas:


Q: Who's buying the most TV time?

A: Davis has spent slightly more on TV at $4.8 million in trying to catch her Republican rival in the polls. Abbott has spent $4.2 million, but having started July with a 3-to-1 advantage in cash on hand, he's positioned to dominate airwaves down the stretch.

They still haven't surpassed the $10.8 million combined that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Sen. Dan Patrick spent on TV during a nasty Republican primary battle for lieutenant governor - which ranks as the sixth-most expensive race in the U.S so far this year. Leaning on his personal wealth, Dewhurst bought $5.8 million in ads during his failed bid for a fourth term, but Patrick had enough money from conservative groups to keep pace and win a runoff.


Q: Who's not spending?

A: Outside influences - which makes Texas an anomaly compared to other big states.

Independent groups - such as the Republican Governors Association, or issue-driven political action committees - have bought roughly 30,000 more ads nationally targeting state-level races than in 2010. But not in Texas, where 99 percent of all ad buys have been by the candidates' campaigns.

One reason: the Davis-Abbott race has been less competitive than gubernatorial battles both in primaries and general elections states such as Pennsylvania and Florida. Texas is also among the handful of states with no caps on campaign contributions - giving candidates all the TV time that limitless fundraising can buy.

"If there's one argument to be made for having no limits on how much you can give to a candidate, it really keeps the outside spending down," said John Dunbar, deputy executive editor at the Center for Public Integrity.


Q: Is it my imagination, or are most of the ads I'm seeing negative?

A: Nearly 9 of every 10 ads from Davis have attacked Abbott, who didn't start going negative against Davis on TV until last week. The most talked-about ad was Davis' shadowy dramatization of a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman who raped a Texas mother, who Abbott later sided against in a lawsuit while serving on the Texas Supreme Court.


Q: How does this compare to 2010?

A: Spending in Texas is actually down 13 percent so far from the last time Texas picked a governor, but for good reason. Roughly $41 million had already been spent on gubernatorial ads at this point in 2010 - when Gov. Rick Perry and then-U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison waged a fierce Republican primary battle.


Q: How were these figures compiled?

A: The non-partisan Center for Public Integrity reviewed data about political advertising on national cable and broadcast television in all of the country's 210 media markets. The organization used research from Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks political advertising and offers a widely accepted estimate of the money spent to air each spot.

These figures do not include federal elections such as Sen. John Cornyn's bid for re-election and House of Representatives races. They only represent part of the money spend on political advertising. They do not include the money spent on ads on radio, online and direct mail, as well television ads on local cable systems or the cost of producing the messages. That means the total cost of spending on political ads can be significantly higher.


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(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Few Fireworks in First Texas Governor's Debate Election Fri, 19 Sep 2014 7:07:27 PM Associated Press Few Fireworks in First Texas Governor's Debate

EDINBURG, Texas (AP) - Democrat Wendy Davis went after Republican Greg Abbott over defending deep classroom spending cuts and his record on women in the first governor's debate in Texas in nearly a decade.

Abbott on Friday night delivered his best shot upon asking Davis whether she regretted voting for President Barack Obama. She wouldn't answer and instead digressed.

But the first of two scheduled debates between Abbott and Davis otherwise saw few fireworks. Abbott is the favorite to replace Gov. Rick Perry next year and was content to play it safe even when Davis attacked.

The debate in the Rio Grande Valley made border security a major topic. Both Davis and Abbott reiterated their support of deploying the Texas National Guard and state troopers to the border.

The election is Nov. 4.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Abbott and Davis Debate for 1st Time Friday Election Thu, 18 Sep 2014 2:56:16 PM Abbott and Davis Debate for 1st Time Friday

The candidates vying for Governor of Texas will debate Friday night in Edinburg. You can watch the event LIVE on the CW South Texas and on KAJA-Telemundo (en Espanol).

This is the first debate between Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis.

CW listings:

  • Time Warner Cable - 23
  • Grande Communications - 16



  • Time Warner Cable - 16
  • Grande Communications - 17
  • AT&T U-Verse - 17


Despite a 3-to-1 edge in campaign cash and polling leads over his Democratic opponent, Greg Abbott is courting Republican-snubbing Hispanic voters with efforts unmatched since former President George W. Bush was governor of Texas.

The Republican candidate and current attorney general has made 14 visits to the Rio Grande Valley, the symbolic backdrop for this delicate courtship.

He's recruited a Mexican actor for some of his TV commercials, spent generously on Spanish-language advertising and introduces his wife Cecilia as the soon-to-be first Latina first lady of Texas.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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Get Informed Ahead of November's Election Election Mon, 15 Sep 2014 1:34:58 PM Get Informed Ahead of November's Election

Get informed ahead of this year's midterm election on November 4th with a look at who and what is on the ballot.

Along with the deciding the challenges to incumbents across the State of Texas, voters in Corpus Christi have the opportunity to give an up or down vote on three bond propositions, mayor and council members.

Early voting starts October 20th and wraps up on October 31st.

Click to view the Nueces County master ballot in PDF format

More information on voting is available at the Texas Secretary of State's website here -


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Lieutenant Governor Candidates to Debate on Sept. 27th Election Wed, 13 Aug 2014 11:12:31 AM Associated Press Lieutenant Governor Candidates to Debate on Sept. 27th

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick has agreed to participate in a September debate with his Democratic opponent for lieutenant governor, Leticia Van de Putte.

Patrick's campaign announced Wednesday that he'll debate his Senate colleague Sept. 27 for an hour-long event to be broadcast by KLRU-TV in Austin. It will be moderated by Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey.

But Van de Putte released a statement Wednesday calling Patrick a "coward" for agreeing to just one debate out of five she's proposed. She said a single debate "in front of a bunch of Austin insiders" isn't enough.

Patrick's campaign says he participated in numerous debates during the Republican primary and is working to establish a debate schedule in the coming months that doesn't conflict with ones involving the candidates for governor.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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David Loeb Not Running for Re-Election to City Council Election Tue, 24 Jun 2014 12:29:39 PM David Loeb Not Running for Re-Election to City Council

CORPUS CHRISTI - City councilman at large David Loeb announced this morning he's not seeking re-election for a term that ends in January.

Loeb has served two 2-year terms on the council. He cites the increasing need for his presence in running the family business, Landlord Resources, and the fact that his family is growing with the birth of his daughter later this year.

"I could run again and continue to serve if I won but it wouldn't be to the standard I have set for myself," Loeb said in an emailed announcement.


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McComb Backs Away From Recount Election Mon, 9 Jun 2014 11:42:05 AM McComb Backs Away From Recount

CORPUS CHRISTI - It looks like Nueces County Commissioner Joe McComb is throwing in the towel.

McComb tells KRIS6 he's not going to ask for a recount of last month's runoff election, after all.

The flap started over some confusion with ballot boxes on election night, that led to questions on the final vote tally.

Challenger Brent Chesney won by 162 votes.

McComb says he met with county elections officials on Friday. He says he now believes a recount won't change the results.


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Madrigal Wins Party Nomination for County Court at Law No. 5 Election Wed, 28 May 2014 2:23:55 PM Madrigal Wins Party Nomination for County Court at Law No. 5

CORPUS CHRISTI - Melissa Madrigal was the clear winner in the race for Nueces County Court at Law 5.

She defeated Martha Huerta Quintanilla with more than 55 percent of the vote in Tuesday's Democratic primary runoff.

Madrigal is looking towards another victory this November when she goes up against Republican Timothy McCoy in the general election.

"I've worked there and I've always advocated for children. Its always been my dream to go back and I started my career there and I'd like to end my career there," says Madrigal.


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Commissioner McComb Asks for Recount of Primary Runoff Results Election Wed, 28 May 2014 1:41:02 PM Rick Spruill - Commissioner McComb Asks for Recount of Primary Runoff Results

CORPUS CHRISTI - Nueces County Commissioner Joe McComb wants a recount. Unofficial results have McComb losing to challenger, Brent Chesney, by 162 votes in last night's Republican primary runoff for McComb's Precinct 4 commissioner's seat.

Confusion over a couple of ballot boxes left McComb's camp questioning the results. This morning he emailed Nueces County Republican Party Chairman-in-waiting Mike Bergsma, requesting the recount.

But County Clerk Diana Barrera says a recount will probably not change the outcome.

"I don't see the likelihood that there would be," she told KRIS-6 this morning. "(That's) because what transpired last night was confusion not on the voting system but on the reporting module."

In layman's terms, Barrera is saying there was not a problem with the system that counts votes. The problem was with how the vote totals were shared on the county's real-time tabulation system, which is made available to the public on election night.

She says three Democratic precincts were ingested into the Republican reporting system. It changed only the number of precincts reporting, not the vote counts.

But McComb believes the problem created an inaccurate vote total.

A primary vote recount is managed by the party and paid for by the candidate requesting the recount. Barrera's elections staff will assist.

She says the cost won't be known until McComb and the party work out whether to do a manual recount or simply upload the electronic voting tabulations from each precinct.

Those are available on memory sticks, kept under lock and key at the Elections office.

Taxpayers don't pay for a recount. McComb's campaign will have to come up with the money.

The final vote canvass happens next week. Only then can a recount begin.

Barrera did not have an estimate on how long it might take. Only that with an election this small, it should not take too long.


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Primary Runoff Election Results Election Tue, 27 May 2014 6:02:23 PM Primary Runoff Election Results

Unofficial results from Nueces County and the Texas Secretary of State

CORPUS CHRISTI - It is a very important day for those politicians looking to beat opponents they didn't get the best of in the March primary.

The two big races in Corpus Christi were for County Court at Law #5 and Nueces County Commissioner Precinct 4.

Unofficial results from Nueces County show Brent Chesney won his primary runoff challenge of incumbent Joe McComb by 162 votes.

However, McComb has requested a recount in the race, citing some problems with the computers that handle the election in the County Clerk's office.

Since there is no Democrat challenger coming up in the November election, the winner will take the seat in the county commissioners court.

For local Democrats, Melissa Madrigal moves on to the November general election to face Republican Timothy McCoy in the race for County Court at Law #5. Madrigal defeated Martha Huerta Quintanilla by 405 votes, according to unofficial results from the county.



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Texas Runoff Vote May be End for Lt. Gov Dewhurst Election Tue, 27 May 2014 2:24:29 PM Associated Press Texas Runoff Vote May be End for Lt. Gov Dewhurst

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Republican voters appear ready to steer Texas even further to the right by backing tea party favorites over establishment candidates which could end the political career of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, one of the most powerful figures in Texas since 2002.

Despite spending $5 million of his own fortune on his campaign, Dewhurst has struggled to gain ground on state Sen. Dan Patrick, a fiery conservative talk radio host and founder of the Legislature's tea party caucus. Patrick has criticized Dewhurst - who presided over the Texas Senate - for not preventing Democratic Senator Wendy Davis' filibuster of a 2013 measure restricting abortion, which drew national attention and launched her run for governor.

A Patrick victory Tuesday would likely mean that a new face will occupy every statewide office in Texas next year when Gov. Rick Perry steps aside.

Republican nominations for four major offices - including attorney general and agriculture commissioner - and nearly a dozen statehouse seats will be settled after crowded primary battles in March resulted in a busy slate of runoffs.

With Texas Democrats again the underdogs in November, many tea party-aligned candidates favored to win Tuesday would be poised to pursue an aggressively conservative agenda that would likely include further spending cuts, expanded gun rights and more restrictions on abortion.

"We're supposed to be this very conservative state, and the people in Texas are, yet our Legislature doesn't always reflect that," said Republican Konni Burton, a tea party leader from Fort Worth who is running for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis' state Senate seat. "We are going in a different direction than many states, but I don't think we're the only ones. We're probably just louder. We're Texans, right?"

Robert Wilkerson, a 65-year-old handyman in Aledo, near Fort Worth, said just after the polls opened Tuesday that he voted for Patrick because he thought Dewhurst was too "passive."

"David Dewhurst hasn't taken control," Wilkerson said. "He wouldn't get in the middle of anything, he would just kind of go along with the status quo and I think we need some changes."

In the Houston enclave of Bellaire, however, attorney Stephen Smith said he voted for Dewhurst again.

"His opponent is Dan Patrick. He is strictly into ideology and that doesn't have a place in this system," said Smith.

Early turnout was light Tuesday with voters trickling into polling sites as a storm moved across parts of the state, much like the primary in March when Dewhurst blamed rain for low turnout that had him finish a distant second. A flash flood watch was in effect until Tuesday evening for Houston, hometown to both Dewhurst and Patrick.

For Democrats, it's a less lively runoff. Voters will choose a token opponent to powerful Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. Democrats have spent much of the primary trying to dissuade their supporters from picking Kesha Rogers, who has called for impeaching President Barack Obama, and instead choose David Alameel of Dallas, who made millions with a chain of dental clinics.

Most attention and money has been directed at the Republican races.

Dewhurst has reached into his own pocket, trying to mount a comeback and shed accusations he's become too entrenched and moderate after 11 years in office. But Patrick has seemingly attracted more support - a $4 million haul of donations in the last two months - impressive even by Texas' lofty political fundraising standards.

"Time for a change, that's the main thing," said Peggy Summers, 80, of Lubbock, who voted for Patrick.

Summers is a fan of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and sees Patrick in the same mold.

Candidates have wooed GOP voters by saying Texas can do more to expand gun rights, further restrict access to abortion and increase police presence on the Texas-Mexico border to slow the flow of immigrants in the United States illegally.

Tea party-backed candidates have also admonished the Republican-controlled Legislature as being financially reckless while vowing to slash economic incentives they deride as corporate welfare.

Unlike in 2010 and 2012, tea party-backed candidates in Texas and elsewhere are dealing with a disappointing election year, particularly in congressional and U.S. Senate races. But when it comes to statewide races, many candidates are trying to emulate Cruz, a once little-known state solicitor general who upset Dewhurst for the 2012 U.S. Senate nomination.


Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter at

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Primary Runoffs Today Election Tue, 27 May 2014 5:49:38 AM Primary Runoffs Today

CORPUS CHRISTI - It is decision day for several state and local runoff races.

Here's a look at what voters will see on the Nueces County ballot.

In the Republican primary runoff, Brent Chesney faces incumbent Joe Mccomb, in the race for the Nueces County Commissioner, Precinct 4 seat. Whoever wins today, wins the seat in November.

For Democrats, there's a runoff in the race for Nueces County Court-at-Law number five.

Martha Huerta Quintanilla is running against Melissa Madrigal.

The winner, will face Republican Timothy Mccoy, in the November election.


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Early Voting Underway for Primary Runoff Election Election Mon, 19 May 2014 11:02:27 AM Ben Lloyd Early Voting Underway for Primary Runoff Election

CORPUS CHRISTI - Early voting is underway for the May 27th primary runoff election. Several state races are on the Nueces County ballot but there are also some local races that will be decided.

In the Democratic primary runoff, voters will cast ballots in the County Court at Law #5 race between Melissa Madrigal and Martha Huerta Quintanilla.

On the Republican side, voters will decide the winner of the County Commissioner Precinct 4 race between Brent Chesney and Joe McComb.

For more information visit our election page, including polling locations and the full ballot, click here.


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Potential Fine of $500 a Day for Political Signs Election Mon, 5 May 2014 4:51:41 PM Potential Fine of $500 a Day for Political Signs

CORPUS CHRISTI - According to city ordinance, if you're not a candidate in this month's runoff election then your political sign must be taken down.

The ordinance is designed to force candidates to remove the signs within 10 days of an election. The alternative is a $500 fine for each day of violation.

Until today, a sign for a Justice of the Peace candidate Eric Cantu stood strong on the corner of Everhart and Corona. He lost the election in mid-March. At $500 a day that's a total fine of $26,500.

KRIS 6 News contacted Cantu to ask about the sign and if he knew the potential fine he was facing. A few minutes later someone showed up to remove the sign.

Corpus Christi Captain David Blackmon, who oversees Code Enforcement, says they have other eyesores to tackle that look a lot worse than a candidates face on a poster.

"We prioritize. We enforce the ordinances that are the biggest concern to the public. And right now it's the high weeds, it's the dilapidated buildings," said Capt. Blackmon.

But, you would think the high fine would be reason enough to go after the political sign violators.

"The city keeps saying I'm short on money, I'm short on money. And they're not even trying to collect all this money," says concerned citizen Jack Gordy.

Capt. Blackmon says it's not that easy. He says the city doesn't get all the money from fines it issues. When it gets to court, Blackmon says a lot of times with small violations such as political signs judges will dismiss the fine and just give a warning instead. In the end wasting taxpayer money and time.

"So actually the city is coming out ahead and saving money because we're actually using an educational aspect and some common sense involved with this," said Capt. Blackmon.

Capt. Blackmon says no fines have been issued for political signs this year.


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Democrats Propose February Voting to Begin 2016 Race Election Fri, 2 May 2014 3:57:13 PM Democrats Propose February Voting to Begin 2016 Race

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Democratic National Committee's rulemaking body is recommending a 2016 presidential voting schedule that begins with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1 and follows with voting that month in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Under that calendar, Iowa retains its first-to-vote status while New Hampshire continues to hold the nation's first primary. The full DNC is expected to decide on the details of the calendar in August.

The Democrats' rules and bylaws committee met Friday in Washington. Its proposed calendar sticks closely to the framework laid out by the Republican National Committee. The GOP plan allows for those four states to vote in February but doesn't specify dates.

Democrats recommended that the New Hampshire primary be held on Feb. 9, the Nevada caucuses no earlier than Feb. 20, and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27. Other states would be allowed to hold their contests from March 1 through the second Tuesday in June.

The recommendation hardly carves in stone the 2016 schedule. In the past two presidential election cycles, the major parties have scheduled the early contests for February but then allowed them to take place in January after such states as Florida and Michigan violated the party's rules and moved up their voting.

"You never know what you're going to get into in the pressure of an election season," committee co-chairman James Roosevelt Jr. said.

The committee discussed allowing people to participate without being physically present in Iowa's caucuses, the precinct-level political meetings held on a winter evening. Nothing on the issue was decided.

The Iowa caucuses, which have launched presidential voting for more than 30 years and are operated by the parties rather than state election officials, have come under increasing criticism because they include only those who attend a specific meeting. Democrats in the state are investigating whether the state party could allow more people to participate, including voters stationed out of state with the military or confined to hospitals or nursing homes.

"Our goal is to increase participation but maintain the spirit of the caucuses," Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan said.

The Democratic caucuses require participants to form groups of candidate supporters. Supporters of candidates who receive less than 15 percent support in an individual precinct disperse, giving other supporters the chance to argue for their support.

In 2008, Democrat Hillary Clinton complained after finishing in third place that the rules kept people who work nights from attending, although attendance more than doubled the previous high mark. In 2012, Republicans first declared Mitt Romney a very narrow winner, only to say two weeks later that Rick Santorum had won.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Pro-Clinton Super PAC Raises Almost $6M Election Thu, 10 Apr 2014 4:24:36 AM Pro-Clinton Super PAC Raises Almost $6M

WASHINGTON (AP) - A super PAC urging Hillary Rodham Clinton to run for president says it raised $1.7 million in the first three months of the year, almost all of it from small-dollar donors.

Ready for Hillary on Thursday said more than 22,000 new donors gave money to the self-designated Clinton support network between Jan. 1 and March 31. The average contribution was $53, and 98 percent of it was $100 or less.

Ready for Hillary has been collecting names of those who would support Clinton if she runs in 2016. The super PAC has been focused on building buzz by lining up donors, as others have done.

Since its launch, Ready for Hillary has raised $5.75 million.

The group is independent of a campaign Clinton would launch if she decides to run.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Supreme Court Voids Overall Campaign Donor Limits Election Wed, 2 Apr 2014 11:59:10 AM Supreme Court Voids Overall Campaign Donor Limits

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court further loosened the reins on political giving Wednesday, ruling that big campaign donors can dole out money to as many candidates and political committees as they want as long as they abide by limits on contributions to each individual campaign.

In a 5-4 vote won by conservative justices, the court struck down limits in federal law on the total amount of money a contributor can give to candidates, political parties and political action committees.

The decision wipes away the overall limit of $123,200 for 2013 and 2014. It will allow the wealthiest contributors to pour millions of dollars into candidate and party coffers, although those contributions will be subject to disclosure under federal law. Big donors, acting independently of candidates and parties, already can spend unlimited amounts on attacks ads and other campaign efforts that have played an increasingly important role in elections.

The justices left in place limits on individual contributions to each candidate for president or Congress, now $2,600 per election.

The court's conservative majority, under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, continued its run of decisions back to 2007 rejecting campaign finance limits as violations of the First Amendment speech rights of contributors. The most notable among those rulings was the 2010 decision in Citizens United that lifted limits on independent spending by corporations and labor unions.

Roberts said the aggregate limits do not act to prevent corruption, the rationale the court has upheld as justifying contribution limits.

The overall limits "intrude without justification on a citizen's ability to exercise 'the most fundamental First Amendment activities,'" Roberts said, quoting from the court's seminal 1976 campaign finance ruling in Buckley v. Valeo.

Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with the outcome of the case, but wrote separately to say that he would have gone further and wiped away all contribution limits.

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the liberal dissenters, said that the court's conservatives had "eviscerated our nation's campaign finance laws" through Wednesday's ruling and the Citizens United case.

"If the court in Citizens United opened a door, today's decision we fear will open a floodgate," Breyer said in comments from the bench. "It understates the importance of protecting the political integrity of our governmental institution. It creates, we think, a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate's campaign."

Roberts said the dissenters' fears were overstated because other federal laws prohibit the circumvention of the individual limits and big donors are more likely to spend a lot of money independently in support of a favored candidate.

Reaction to the ruling generally followed party lines, with advocates of capping money in politics aligned with Democrats in opposition to the decision.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called the Supreme Court decision "an important first step toward restoring the voice of candidates and party committees and a vindication for all those who support robust, transparent political discourse."

The GOP and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had argued that other decisions relaxing campaign finance rules had diminished the influence of political parties.

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said, "This in itself is a small step, but another step on the road to ruination. It could lead to interpretations of the law that would result in the end of any fairness in the political system as we know it."

Congress enacted the limits in the wake of Watergate-era abuses to discourage big contributors from trying to buy legislative votes with their donations and to restore public confidence in the campaign finance system.

But in a series of rulings in recent years, the Roberts court has struck down provisions of federal law aimed at limiting the influence of big donors as unconstitutional curbs on free speech rights.

In the current case, Republican activist Shaun McCutcheon of Hoover, Ala., the national Republican Party and Senate GOP leader McConnell challenged the overall limits on what contributors may give in a two-year federal election cycle. The limits for the current election cycle included a separate $48,600 cap on contributions to all candidates.

McCutcheon gave the symbolically significant amount of $1,776 to 15 candidates for Congress and wanted to give the same amount to 12 others. But doing so would have put him in violation of the cap.

Relatively few Americans play in the big leagues of political giving. Just under 650 donors contributed the maximum amount to candidates, PACs and parties in the last election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The court did not heed warnings from Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. and advocates of campaign finance limits that donors would be able to funnel large amounts of money to a favored candidate in the absence of the overall limit.

The Republicans also called on the court to abandon its practice over nearly 40 years of evaluating limits on contributions less skeptically than restrictions on spending.

The differing levels of scrutiny have allowed the court to uphold most contribution limits, because of the potential for corruption when donors make large direct donations to candidates. At the same time, the court has found that independent spending does not pose the same risk of corruption and has applied a higher level of scrutiny to laws that seek to limit spending.

If the court were to drop the distinction between contributions and expenditures, even limits on contributions to individual candidates for Congress, currently $2,600 per election, would be threatened, said Fred Wertheimer, a longtime supporter of stringent campaign finance laws.

The case is McCutcheon v. FEC, 12-536.


Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in Boston contributed to this report.


Follow Mark Sherman on Twitter at: shermancourt

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Abbott's Goal: Break Bush Record for Hispanic Vote Election Thu, 6 Mar 2014 4:34:39 PM Abbott's Goal: Break Bush Record for Hispanic Vote

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Greg Abbott says he wants to make history and capture the largest percentage of Hispanic voters ever by a Republican in a Texas governor's race.

Abbott on Thursday began the general election phase of his campaign in Hidalgo County. That's one of several Texas border counties where rival Wendy Davis finished Ray Madrigal, an obscure challenger in this week's Democratic primary.

Abbott turned out even fewer voters in Hidalgo County than Davis, and declined comment on her numbers in the Rio Grande Valley.

The Texas attorney general says he's instead focused on attracting historic Hispanic support. Former Gov. George W. Bush is widely considered to have set the GOP mark during his re-election in 1998.

Some exit polling that year put Bush getting as much as 49 percent of Hispanic voters.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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