Sunday, March 4, 2018

The late-comers guide to the 2018 GOP Primary

Hey, wait a minute: the last two weeks were called early voting for a reason. Day-of primary voting is technically on-time. Who are you calling "late?"

We hear you. But in the last Republican Primary 137 more voters cast their ballots early than on primary election day (17,584 early compared to 17,447 on March 10, 2014).

So while half of you reading this have likely already made your decision, there's the other half still waiting. We have you covered.

We urge you to check out the Travis County Republican Party's helpful page on the primary. On it you'll find information on the candidates, links to sample ballots, voters guides, and so much more.

Democrat death rattle becomes an echo as Congressional campaigns run out of ideas

Wait -- isn't she running in CD 31?
(click to enlarge)
The American left is coming to grips with a grim electoral reality.

Their New Deal policies are losing favor with the public, state legislatures are overwhelmingly going red (67-32 chambers), and ill-conceived schemes like Obamacare are turning people to the GOP in droves. And let's not get started on the unpopularity of taxpayer funds for Planned Parenthood!

That jangling noise you hear coming out of that TV in the corner still tuned to MSNBC is the death rattle of the Democratic Party. And recently it's starting to echo.

The left won't go down without making a huge spectacle. They have President Trump's tweets to energize the crowds into their own versions of the Tea Party (e.g. Indivisible, Resist, etc.), they have the Hollywood elite as cheerleaders, and they will pounce on any public tragedy to attack conservatives -- going as far to denounce the prayers of the faithful in wake of the recent, horrific shooting at a Florida public school. Sensationalism is their new game.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Happy Texas Independence Day, Austin style

Today is Texas Independence Day. And what better place to celebrate than right here in the Capital of Texas?

No, you're still unlikely to get today off from work. Your school-aged kids are probably going to be celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday. And you're predictably going to get blank stares from the Californians who keep moving here to escape their former state's crumbling economy.

But there are some incredible events worthy of a true Texan's time today and this weekend -- including a parade, historic re-enactors, a pop-up boot store, a fun run, and even Texas-shaped waffles on Sixth Street. What's not to love about all that?

Friday, February 2, 2018

Who out of 18 candidates will succeed Lamar Smith? CD 21 forum makes picture clearer

The Travis County Republican Party and the Hays County Republican Party teamed up to provide a candidate forum for Congressional District 21. Congressman Lamar Smith is stepping down after this term, and 18 candidates have rushed to fill his shoes in the GOP primary. 

While forums like these have taken place more than once in the heart of the district, up in the eastern "peninsula" -- population-heavy but removed by distance -- meeting the candidates can be a trick. So the Hays GOP and the Travis GOP met on the county line (at the TDS Exotic Game Ranch -- the most creative use of a landfill you'll ever see) to host the event on Thursday, Feb. 1.  Twelve showed up, which isn't bad at all considering the large field.

You can watch the archived Facebook livestream here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

JP candidate comes out swinging on Kleinert case

Harry at the 2018 primary ballot draw.
The U.S. Supreme Court tapped the brakes Tuesday on Travis County’s four-year effort to prosecute Charles Kleinert for the accidental shooting of Larry Jackson Jr. 

The High Court refused to hear the case, which is a victory for the taxpayers and responsible government spending, according to a press release (see below) from the unopposed Republican Primary candidate for Travis County Justice of the Peace Precinct 3.
Martin Harry, Republican candidate for Justice of the Peace for Precinct 3 in Travis County (JP3), alleges Travis County elected officials violated state ethics law, wasted tax dollars and used federal courts to advance a political agenda. 
Today, the United States Supreme Court ended Travis County’s four year failed effort to prosecute Charles Kleinert for the accidental shooting of Larry Jackson, Jr. when it refused to review the case. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Who can best keep the Internet open: Government or the free market?

Guest Editorial by Patrick McGuinness

Some “Net Neutrality” advocates claim this debate is about whether we will have net neutrality and an open internet or not. However, both sides of the issue want what net neutrality delivers -- an open internet. The real debate is over FCC internet regulations, and it can be considered a question of trust: Do we trust markets or Government to ensure an open internet?

For proponents of Government regulation, the impending rollback by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) of regulations they passed in 2015 to control ISPs (Internet Service Providers) is a threat to net neutrality. They believe Government intervention is needed to keep ISPs in line – after all – “if given the chance, large ISPs will use monopoly power to bully suppliers and squeeze consumers for their profit and the detriment of others, right?”


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Union leaders were kinder to the South than Mayor Adler

What would Lincoln do, Mayor Adler?
The very persons responsible for taking the Rebel states captive after the Civil War and initiating Reconstruction were perhaps kinder to the memory of the Confederacy than your average liberal is 152 years after the war.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler conscribed to the ranks of those who have less affinity for the legacy of Southern patriots than even those who pointed their rifles at them. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Adler seceded from the city’s annual Veterans Day parade, which is taking place today.

Why? Not because of the Rebel flag we all recognize. But because lesser-famed Confederate imagery was used to honor the veterans who served to defend the ground underneath our feet during the time when Texas was part of the Confederate States of America (1861-1865).

Across our own Mason-Dixon line of sorts -- the boundary between Williamson and Travis counties -- the WillCo Sheriff is fuming:

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

November 2017 results are in: Is it time for conservatives to panic?

"Presidents typically face strong headwinds in midterm elections ... Even President Obama – who was elected President by historic margins – lost 6 U.S. Senate seats and 63 U.S. House seats during the 2010 midterm elections."   That's what a White House communique said about last night's "blowout" when Democrats trounced Republicans in many jurisdictions around the nation, particularly in Virginia. We agree that it's the burden of the party in power to prove that it can deliver on its promises, and in politics that can often be difficult as compromise is key to getting legislation passed. That's why mid-term elections are tough on the party in power nationally. This is primarily a local blog (Travis County and Central Texas) so we'll defer to the seasoned analysts at Town Hall for more of what the Nov. 7 election means on the national scene or whether it's a portent of things to come in 2018. (Meanwhile, we're here licking our wounds on losing three school bond opposition campaigns.) There are three factors worth considering if we wish to not only Keep Texas Red but continue making gains throughout the Trump Administration -- as well as to put up any serious challenge to Austin-area Democrats.
1) The Left has its own "tea party" now. The Left has their own Tea Party-like network in the form of Antifa, Indivisible, Flippable, etc. Do not discount this: Lefty candidates are winning without the Democrats lifting a finger, such as Populist Democrat Lee Miller who won handily last night despite being abandoned by the donkey party leadership: 
2) Local liberal races are relying on out-of-state money to win. If the liberals can't win big in 2018 then that means the Democrats will have no choice but to pander toward the Center in future election cycles. To stave off this fear, there was some serious cash being dumped across the country to promote the possibility of winning in 2018, even in local and state lege races. Case in point: this race in which $60 was spent PER VOTE to help a transgender candidate win election. And it apparently worked: 
3) The GOP base isn't as excited as it could be. The Left is charged up and unified in their hatred for President Trump, and that is translating to defeats of Republicans across the country. Exhibit A: Republican Gov. Ed Gillespie was defeated by nearly 9 percentage points. Though Gillespie was hailed as a "unifier," his conciliatory tone did not enthuse our people enough to counter spirited liberal opposition (especially Trump supporters who feel alienated by him). He did not generate more new voters, nor convince enough liberals to swing Republican. The more national GOP leadership stalls on repealing Obamacare and other publicly recognizable conservative reforms the less excited Republican voters will be to take action other than just punching a ballot (if they do so at all). Candidates who energize voters to bring in their friends, neighbors, co-workers and families are the ones who win.
Nov. 7 was not the end of the conservative movement by any means, but if we don't stand firm on Republican values and act on them (in a way that voters across the country understand), it will be increasingly difficult to rise against increased organization and special interest fundraising from the Left in 2018.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Help! I have no idea how to vote on the November 2017 ballot

While we recommend leaving an item blank when you don't know how to vote in a particular race, the Tracker comes out of its short hiatus to draw your attention on a few key ballot items.

For recommendations we suggest Empower Texans' analysis of the Constitutional Amendment propositions and the Travis County GOP's stances on the Austin ISD, Lake Travis ISD, and Leander ISD bond proposals. For any questions on if you are eligible to vote, where to vote, when to vote, etc. please visit

Turnout for these are typically extremely low, and your vote may represent thousands (if not tens of thousands) of those who stayed at home.  So get out there and represent your "district!" And if you have any questions on issues concerning the local races we advise contacting your local precinct GOP chairmen if available.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Houston, Gulf Coast drowning while protestors picket Trump

Yes, that's an 'Impeach' sign
Hurricane Harvey just set a domestic rainfall total record as of this afternoon (51.88 inches at Cedar Bayou), as President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump head to Austin Bergstrom International Airport after a visit to Corpus Christi and Austin to support and address statewide emergency response coordination.

For most people, it's a no-brainer: helping fellow Texans survive and recover from historic-level flooding (with much more to come) is a cause that has no bearing on one's political beliefs or personal preferences. We can argue about FEMA trailers, floodplain zoning, and the merits of the Trump Administration later.

And others? Well, take a look at what those who don't get that are saying this afternoon ...
Guadalupe and Koenig this afternoon, as Trump's motorcade approaches
Thankfully, the great majority of Texans get that it's not about politics: This isn't a chance to promote your pet cause, to denigrate our nation's leaders who are doing their best to help, or to kick flood victims when they're down. It's time to pack sandbags, open our wallets, gather donations of necessary goods, and get to work on what's sure to be a long road to recovery.

Below are some resources we hope you'll be able to use, followed by a message from Gov. Greg Abbott, who called Texas' response so far "nothing short of remarkable." We'll keep this list updated -- if you know of any other compilations of flood relief efforts please leave them in the comments section below and we'll be happy to include them here.

KXAN: Stand Strong Texas

Austin American-Statesman:

Texas Tribune (statewide resources for those assisting and those who need help):

Must Read Texas (subscribe for daily round-up of Harvey news and opportunities)

ALSO ... The Tracker recommends anyone in harm's way download the Zello app for your smartphone ASAP. Search for the channel titled "Texas Search and Rescue" and there you will be able to instantaneously communicate with search-and-rescue workers in your vicinity. More info:

Below is a message from Team Abbott with some helpful links, especially for those in immediate need ...

... As Texas continues to experience heavy rains in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I want to share some additional information and resources for those affected by the storm.

I have activated the entire Texas National Guard--about 12,000--in order to respond to Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery. The Texas National Guard is working closely with FEMA and federal troops to respond urgently to the growing needs of Texans who have fallen victim to Hurricane Harvey, and the activation of the entire Guard will assist in the efforts already underway.
Check the Texas Hurricane Center page on the Office of the Texas Governor website to see the most up to date list of mandatory and voluntary evacuations. However, if you are living in a flooded area, do not attempt to evacuate by driving your car--doing so will put your life and lives of rescue personnel at risk. Visit the FEMA website for safety tips or call 2-1-1 for evacuation information.

If you need assistance,
 visit the FEMA disaster assistance site or call 800-621-FEMA.

If you need immediate medical attention or emergency evacuation assistance, call 9-1-1. If you cannot get through on the first try, keep calling. You can also call one of five numbers for the Houston Command Center of the United States Coast Guard:

Do not attempt to drive on flooded roadways! Remember, “turn around, don’t drown!” If you need roadside assistance, call
800-525-5555 or 9-1-1 if it is an emergency. Check for flooded roads and road conditions before driving anywhere. Call the Texas Department of Transportation at 800-452-9292 for statewide road closures.

If you are in Houston,
 visit the City of Houston Emergency Information page or call either 3-1-1 or 713-884-3131 for Houston emergency updates.

If you are a hurricane evacuee seeking shelter,
 visit the Red Cross website to find open shelters or call the Red Cross Hotline at 800-733-2767. I have opened Texas State Parks to free camping for hurricane evacuees. Check here for a list and a map of park availability. AirBnB is also providing free accommodations to Harvey evacuees. You can find a free place to stay or offer up your space to evacuees in San Antonio, Austin, or Dallas.

If you have been affected by Harvey in any way, know that Texas has your back during this difficult time. I ask that Texans continue to keep affected regions in their thoughts and prayers as we continue to endure this severe weather event and its tragic effects on our state.


Greg Abbott

Photo credits: Protest photos shared by Leland Freeman via Thanks, Leland!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tax swap: Robin Hood workaround or revenge for SB 6?

Where the other half lives in Travis County
UPDATE: Tax swap proposal on hold (at least for now). More.

In a move being billed as a way for Austin ISD to get around a high amount of "recaptured" funds under the state "Robin Hood" school funding scheme, the Austin City Council voted 6-4 this month to initiate part 1 of a "tax swap" plan with the school district.

But could the tax swap also be retaliation against the Texas Legislature's recent action to reign-in big city annexation powers? A Republican House member suggests it may be related (see below).

The first step of the tax swap plan, which the City took on Aug. 10, raises the city’s property tax rate to 46.51 cents per $100 in appraised property value. It's a move that had bipartisan opposition, with Council members Ellen Troxclair (R), Jimmy Flannigan (D), Delia Garza (D) and Ora Houston (D, with fiscal conservative sympathies at times) voting no.

Step two: What's known as an interlocal agreement between the city of Austin and the Austin ISD to do the swap would have to be approved by both entities. This seems like a done deal -- Austin ISD will gladly lower its tax rates to keep Robin Hood away and the City would provide some services to the school (which hearkens back to the days before Independent School Districts became the norm in Texas public education -- more on that little irony in a future article).

Here's step three: That tax hike happens to be 2 cents higher than what's known as the "rollback rate" of 44.51 cents. It amounts to an increase of around 14 percent over the current budget year, by the way. That means the taxpayers, if they successfully circulate a petition with enough signatures (38,000, we understand), will defer final approval of the tax rate to the voters in a yet-to-be-scheduled rollback election (rumor has it on the March primary ballot).

Confused yet? Here's what it all boils down to: According to KXAN-TV, it's a move that may save Austinites money, but every other resident in the non-Austin ISD portions of the city (see chart above) will be stuck with the full 14 percent tax hike (though Mayor Steve Adler is promising perks for neighboring hamlets like funds for a youth center for Del Valle).

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Austin-based Yeti ices Breitbart ad after one person tweets 'hate'

We can all agree lately that overreaction to allegations of hate on either side of the political spectrum is getting out of hand. Sometimes you just want to pack your Yeti cooler and head out to the lake for a few days to get away from all the bickeri ...

Oh wait ...

Friday, August 18, 2017

GOP priorities hit and miss during special lege session

Click to enlarge

As you can see from the chart above (courtesy of the Texas GOP's Strategic Texas Activist Team) it was hit and miss for Republican priority bills -- but mostly miss. The Governor is placing blame square on the Texas House, while it appears there's enough criticism to go around.

Below is a press release from the Texas GOP, followed by a screenshot by the Greg Abbott campaign.
AUSTIN – With the close of this special session of the Texas Legislature, Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey has outlined the bills passed relating to the Republican Party platform: 
“We are constantly working to advance the official Platform of the Republican Party of Texas, which is rooted in conservative principle. Following the special session, there is still much work to be done, but I’m encouraged that the Legislature acted on these important items that will help keep Texas free and prosperous.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Petition surfaces to impeach Travis County Democrat Judge

An online petition calling for the impeachment of Judge Tim Sulak, 353rd Civil District Court, has surfaced.

Below is the description from [bracketed edits ours]:
"Judge Tim Sulak has a lengthy history of conducting himself in a dishonest and discriminatory manner. Additionally, he has engaged in a pattern of discrimination against vulnerable parents in a manner that puts domestic violence survivors and their children at risk for abuse. Judge Sulak has repeatedly ignored signs of abuse in cases before him and has demonstrated a willingness to engage in ex parte communication and receive ex parte evidence to justify his actions. [...]

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Texas Privacy Act seeks to remedy an 'uncivil right'

Guest Opinion by Kaeley Triller Haver

Earlier this year, both the NBA and the NFL made headline news with separate but equally hypocritical statements condemning Texas’ recently proposed privacy bills. The Texas Privacy Act (SB3 and HB 46), would ensure that government policies for bathroom and shower use in government buildings and public schools is based on the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate. It also prevents opposite sex participation in scholastic athletic competition, with some accommodation and exceptions.

Now even an NHL franchise, the Dallas Stars, is joining this “nondiscrimination” chorus.

In the midst of a national voyeurism epidemic, the Texas Privacy Act (SB 3 and HB 46) is a common-sense solution to a problem that shouldn’t even exist. But its opponents argue that it unfairly discriminates against transgender individuals. And apparently the NBA and NFL agree, having threatened to relocate their all-star games and big ticket events should the bill be enacted.

This issue is being framed as the new frontier of civil rights, abusing words like “discrimination” and “equality” to shame common sense privacy supporters (even some who were personally participated in the historic Civil Rights Movement) into silence.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bad news doubles down on Dawnna Dukes (and it's only Monday)

We interrupt this brief hiatus for the Travis Tracker with not one but two pieces of bad news for embattled Rep. Dawnna Dukes, adding to the tragedy that is her continual defense of her indefensible behavior that earned her the social media hashtag #MasTriste.

Her bad day began this morning with a deal Rep. Dukes perhaps should not refuse, tactically speaking. The District Attorney offered to drop charges for Dukes if she resigns from office!

Matt Mackowiak, Travis GOP Chairman said this would still not be enough restitution for her HD 46 constituents:
"The allegations of corruption and misuse of office against Dawnna Dukes are very serious. Whatever the legal resolution is, it does not address her breaking her promise to the voters that she would resign if reelected, or her flagrant absences from official duty in the Capitol. Travis County residents in District 46 deserve better."
Gabriel Nila, former (and prospective) candidate, HD 46, said it's time to get it over with already and urged Mrs. Dukes to accept the deal:
"The report of a new plea deal is further proof that House Representative Dawnna Dukes has committed several violations and is given the opportunity to do the right thing and protect her reputation as a representative and as a parent. We call on Dukes to be on the right side of history and accept the plea deal so the district can move forward in having proper representation."
Mercy. But then Monday got worse for her.

Translation from legal-ese: two of her lawyers no longer wish to defend her against her 13 felony charges. This document asks the presiding judge if they may be dismissed from future trial proceedings.

Mas triste, indeed -- roughly translated from a Spanish idiom for "even sadder than before."

"Expect a continuance," Nila warned.

UPDATE: (5:37 p.m. 8/1/17) DA's office reporting Dukes offer has expired as of 5 p.m. Trial will commence.

Monday, June 5, 2017

State Republican execs: We're not done, yet!

Short of calling for a special Texas legislative session, the State Republican Executive Committee voted to send this letter to Gov. Greg Abbott at its meeting on Saturday.

The Tracker found this letter to be an excellent summation of the 2016 Legislative Priorities (a list approved by state GOP delegates in convention) and how much of it was approved by the 85th Legislature. The second portion of the letter requests Gov. Abbott place the the Legislative Priorities that were not passed on the "call" for any special session.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Congratulations to James (or the difference 1 year can make)

Though Travis County Republican Party Chairman James Dickey's election as state chairman was by a razor-thin margin (32-31 this morning at the State Republican Executive Committee meeting) he is receiving a ton of congratulatory remarks. We would like to join that chorus by providing a brief perspective on what this victory means.


James Dickey was getting ready to preside over his final Executive Committee meeting on June 7, 2016. The new chairman term began on June 13, 2016. Party stalwarts were preparing to transfer assets and financial resources to a group "Friends of the Travis County Republican Party" and a steering committee to be headed by David Duncan was in formation to lead all operations of the party that were not given by law to the elected chairman. No one knew how this would play out, or that by the end of the summer Robert Morrow would be declared ineligible and removed. The mainstream media falsely predicted the "implosion" of the county party. Though undaunted, TCRP morale was at a low point.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Let's get a few things straight about the health of the Travis GOP

The proverbial bus.
Let's set a few things straight about the health of Travis GOP under recent leadership.

It has been inferred in the race for Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas that County Chairman James Dickey, one of two candidates vying for the position, led the Travis GOP into chaos.

All's fair in a race for state chairman, but let's not throw the hard work and dedication of some of the most passionate Republicans in the most liberal city in Texas under the proverbial bus. These hard-working conservatives who give of their time and treasure to fight against high odds in "the blueberry in the tomato soup" of Texas deserve better.

The Travis Tracker will not fire back at these individuals by naming names or quoting these persons verbatim. We have opted to focus on the accusations themselves.

1. Dickey lost seat to Robert Morrow (the "court jester") because Dickey did not campaign adequately or inspire enough volunteers to defend his incumbent status.

Bottom-line: Mr. Morrow had so awful a reputation among local conservatives that no one ever dreamed he would win the election. Out of an abundance of caution, Chairman Dickey commissioned a poll which showed Robert ahead by a comfortable margin -- a complete shock to anyone privy to this information. This gave Mr. Dickey a few weeks to campaign (sound familiar?). His campaign consisted of everything you would expect in a chairman's race, including lawn signs, plenty of TV and radio appearances, and lots of visits to clubs and various official meetings. Morrow, on the other hand, barely lifted a finger other than writing his personal email list.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

State Chairman James Dickey? It's now very possible (UPDATE: He's in)

Dickey, Ramsey, Figueroa
UPDATE (5/23/17): James Dickey has thrown his hat into the ring. Mark Ramsey issued a letter he will not seek election. Rick Figueroa sets up campaign page.

Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Chairman Tom Mechler has announced his decision to step down from his office.

Travis GOP Chairman James Dickey, SREC member Mark Ramsey, and former candidate for RNC National Committeeman Rick Figueroa are names presumed to be in the running. Below is some background, followed by the text of Mechler's resignation letter.

The buzz surrounding Mechler's future started Thursday with a livestream of Raging Elephants Radio, citing anonymous sources who claimed Mechler was stepping down. Raging Elephants is not exactly warm and fuzzy with Mechler ever since being denied a media pass at the 2016 RPT convention (amid other criticisms), and basked in the news.