Alex Jones turns to his 15-year-old son to defend him from `bullying’ by David Hogg

Good Friday Austin:

It has been almost a year since the Alex Jones-Kelly Jones  child custody trial in the Travis County courtroom of District Judge Orlinda Naranjo.

I, like other reporters, never identified the names of the Jones’ three children.

But that now seems a quaint precaution when it comes to their oldest child, their now 15-year-old son, who his father yesterday pushed into a very public place on InfoWars before his huge audience in a manner that appears to make a mockery of Naranjo’s insistence throughout the trial that Alex Jones’ day job had nothing to do with how he parents his children and was of no concern to the court.

Not everyone debuts center stage on Drudge.


Alex Jones seems determined to make his son a celebrity, to make Rex Jones the next Alex Jones.

It’s not hard to understand why Rex Jones, at 15, still in braces, wouldn’t want to go into the hugely lucrative and unfathomably ego-affirming family business. And, I suppose, why not blame David Hogg, who, of late, has become a more hated and demonized target of the American right than Hillary Clinton or George Soros.

I will admit that I find Hogg’s arrogance off-putting and unsettling.

But I don’t think Alex Jones thrusting his son into the spotlight is either helpful or model parenting. It is just more narcissism from a narcissist, intended to wring every drop of juice he can out of attacking Hogg while grooming his Mini-Me.

Here, from a month ago,  a First Reading: Alex Jones: David Hogg is bullying me and YouTube is trying to shut me down.

Yes, Alex Jones, for all his bravado and bluster, says he’s being bullied by a high school senior.

Hogg is bullying me.

` Look how ugly you are. You’re a piece of crap. You’re a this (shit) journalist’ – I can’t use the cuss words on air.

‘You got sued.’

All of this is defamatory. None of it’s true.

And he’s saying he wants to debate, and I’d bet a lot, and maybe I’m wrong, but I’ll bet you a chicken fried steak and all the beer you can drink, that Hogg does not get on this show live with me.

And I’ll be totally polite, because they want me to try to crucify him.

It’s stupid baiting, whosever handling that account.

But, this week, Jones hit on something way better. Why, deep in middle age and with a vast multi-media empire, call out a teenager for bullying you, when you can have your even younger-than-Hogg, teenage son call out the bully Hogg on your behalf, standing up for his dad.

Rex Jones:

Hello Mr. Hogg. My name is Rex Jones and I want to make a public statement about you claiming to speak for  my generation on guns. 


Hogg, you claim that the establishment is shaking in its boots in fear of you. No, they love you. They love gun control. They’ve wanted this for years.

Hogg, you’re a public figure and you call my dad a piece of a S-H-I-you-know-what and you said all kinds of other horrible things. 

You challenged my father to a debate and then backed out of it.

The fact is you and your fellow students have been handpicked by the mainstream media to misrepresent the American people and make it look like the average American teen wants to have their First and Second Amendment taken away.

Mainstream media uses you as a child human shield so that you can go out and make outrageous statements without anyone being allowed to rebut you without being labeled a bully. The truth is Mr. Hogg that George Soros and the groups funding your anti-gun march are a clear and present danger to this country and draw a clear parallel to Nazi Germany and authoritarian regimes from the past.


You are submitting to tyranny. You are begging to have the rights our forefathers fought for stripped away.

I am backed up by statistics and facts. You are backed up by falsities and lies.

Mr. Hogg, My dad invited you to come on his show and publicly debate him . You shied away and crawled back under your rock. I, Rex Jones would like to publicly challenge you to debate me. Name the time. Name the place. Name the venue. I will do it.

I talked with Kelly Jones, Alex’s ex-wife and Rex’s mother, last night. She was distraught.

It’s all just very ugly. Its a nasty spirited and very exploitative representation of my son. 

Alex knows I don’t want him on the air, so he put him on the air.

It’s horrible. It’s horrific. I don’t see my son at all. My son used to at least to want to come see me. Now he hates me. He’s been taught to be his father’s proxy.

You look at the video and he looks angry. He looks like his father.

Where’s my child in there. I love that child that’s in there. It’s not his fault. It’s horrible. It’s my kid. I love him.

He was exuberant and engaged and helpful and kind and loving and he loved me and he is just a manifestation of the impact  – the guy is a cult leader.

I’m so worried about my kid

From my April 16, 2017 story setting up the custody trial

At a recent pretrial hearing, attorney Randall Wilhite told state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo that using his client Alex Jones’ on-air Infowars persona to evaluate Alex Jones as a father would be like judging Jack Nicholson in a custody dispute based on his performance as the Joker in “Batman.”

“He’s playing a character,” Wilhite said of Jones. “He is a performance artist.”

But in emotional testimony at the hearing, Kelly Jones, who is seeking to gain sole or joint custody of her three children with Alex Jones, portrayed the volcanic public figure as the real Alex Jones.

“He’s not a stable person,” she said of the man with whom her 14-year-old son and 9- and 12-year-old daughters have lived since her 2015 divorce. “He says he wants to break Alec Baldwin’s neck. He wants J-Lo to get raped.

“I’m concerned that he is engaged in felonious behavior, threatening a member of Congress,” she said, referring to his recent comments about California Democrat Adam Schiff. “He broadcasts from home. The children are there, watching him broadcast.”

Beginning Monday, a jury will be selected at the Travis County Courthouse that in the next two weeks will be asked to sort out whether there is a difference between the public and private Alex Jones, and whether, when it comes to his fitness as a parent, it matters.

For Naranjo, who has been the presiding judge of the 419th District Court since January 2006, it is about keeping her eyes, and the jury’s eyes, on the children.

“This case is not about Infowars, and I don’t want it to be about Infowars,” Naranjo told the top-shelf legal talent enlisted in Jones v. Jones at the last pretrial hearing Wednesday. “I am in control of this court, not your clients.”


Naranjo, meanwhile, said she had never seen or heard Jones on Infowars until Wednesday’s hearing, when Kelly Jones’ legal team started previewing Infowars videos it would like to play for the jury.

The first was a clip from a July 2015 broadcast in which Jones had his son, then 12, on to play the latest of some 15 or 20 videos he had made with the help of members of the Infowars team who, Jones said, had “taken him under their wing” during summer days spent at the South Austin studio between stints at tennis and Christian camps.

“He is undoubtedly cut out for this, and I intend for him to eclipse what I’ve done. He’s a way greater person than I was at 12,” said Jones, turning to his son. “I love you so much, and I didn’t mean to get you up here, sweetheart, and tell people how much I love you, but you’re so handsome, and you’re a good little knight who’s going to grow up, I know, to be a great fighter against the enemy.”

“So far this looks like good stuff,” Wilhite said. Naranjo OK’d it for viewing by the jury.

But Bobby Newman, the attorney for Kelly Jones guiding the court through the Infowars clips, was laying the groundwork for the argument that there is no separation between Alex Jones, father, and Alex Jones, Infowarrior.

“This is the world he has planned for his kids,” said Newman, quoting Alex Jones at a recent hearing insisting that what he says on the air is what he believes.

From my April 25, 2017, story Kelly Jones fears children are ‘morphing into’ ex-husband Alex Jones:

Kelly Jones took the stand at her child custody trial Tuesday and described ex-husband and Austin broadcaster Alex Jones as a “violent, cruel and abusive man” who is “enraged and out of control most of the time.”

While Alex Jones and his attorneys have contended that he leaves the “bombasity” of his Infowars persona at the office, Kelly Jones said Alex Jones spouts what she views as racist, homophobic and anti-women sentiments in both his public and private life and that their children have come to echo him.

“They are morphing into him,” she said.

She said her son, who she said wants to follow in his father’s footsteps, had said, “I hate women,” and had grown “domineering” in his relationship with his 9- and 12-year-old sisters. She said her 12-year-old daughter had said, “Women shouldn’t be judges.”

Asked by her attorney, Robert Hoffman, what she was most fearful of if her husband continues to have almost exclusive custody of the three children, Kelly Jones said it was the prospect of her children, “just absorbing who he is and becoming him.”

The most tense moments of the seventh day of the trial, due to conclude this week, came on the two occasions when Hoffman sought to introduce Alex Jones’ remark, made during an Infowars broadcast over the weekend, that he had had sex with 150 women by the time he was 16.

When Hoffman asked Steven Hagey, a family therapist, about the comment, Judge Orlinda Naranjo sustained an objection by Alex Jones’ attorneys, who argued that Naranjo had said she wanted to keep Infowars out of the trial.

“He also included that he was ashamed of it,” David Minton, an attorney for Alex Jones, said of his client’s Infowars comment, describing Hoffman’s question as a “cheap shot to get something before the jury they can’t get to otherwise.”

“I don’t want this case to be tried in the press. It should be tried in here,” said Naranjo, while denying the third request in as many days for a mistrial by Alex Jones’ attorneys.

But when Hoffman brought up the quote a second time, asking Kelly Jones to comment on her ex-husband’s statement, Naranjo allowed it and a very brief response.

“I mean my son’s 14,” Kelly Jones replied. “If this is something his father’s talking about openly then what values are being conveyed to my son?”

Hoffman had insisted to Naranjo that the comment by Alex Jones wasn’t political, and totally relevant to the case, and the fact that he said it on Infowars during the child custody case shouldn’t make it off-limits.

From my April 18, 2017, story:

Alex and Kelly Jones, who were married about a dozen years before their divorce in 2015, are fighting over their children — aged 9, 12 and 14 — who now live with Alex Jones and with whom Kelly Jones has only severely restricted, supervised visits. She is seeking sole or joint custody.

What sets this trial apart from so many other bitter custody fights is Alex Jones, and the argument by his legal team that his public persona as a bellicose conspiracy theorist is a character he plays — performance art — and not a measure of what kind of parent he is.

“That’s what he does for a living,” said David Minton, the Austin attorney who delivered the opening statement on Alex Jones’ behalf.

But, Minton said of the idea that Jones would come home and feed his children Infowars, “Nothing could be more wrong. You will hear that from Alex Jones today.”

As it turned out, the testimony of two psychologists involved in the case occupied the afternoon and Alex Jones won’t get his day on the stand until Wednesday.

But, on Monday night, in a video posted at Infowars, Jones didn’t seem resigned to his legal team’s strategy.

“They’ve got articles out today that say I’m a fake, all of this other crap. Total bull,” he said. “The media is deceiving everywhere. I, 110 percent, believe what I stand for.”

And, from my April 19, 2017, story:

Kelly Jones’ attorneys also want to demonstrate that there is no clear line between work and home for Jones, and plan to show the jury a tape of his son, now 14, reporting on Infowars when he was 12.

Jones said that his son had been making appearances on the show since he was about 10 and aspires to go into broadcasting like his father. He said his son has reported on topics including private vs. government space travel and littering on the Barton Creek greenbelt, and that he tries to steer him away from the heavier geopolitical topics, though he is very interested in them.

Well, that was back then when Alex Jones was in the middle of a child custody case and Rex Jones was only 14.

But, Jones couldn’t resist the lure of David Hogg and the dramatic possibilities of sending his son out to do battle on his behalf.

Yesterday’s debate challenge was presaged by this Sunday man-in-the street report from downtown Austin by Rex Jones.

In his piece, Rex Jones, posing as a (clearly adolescent) reporter for News 7 stops people on the street, asks if they support “common sense gun control,” shows them a sketch of some diabolical new weapons and asks if they  think it should be legal. The general response is bewilderment and agreement that we don’t need more diabolical weapons, for which, in the edit, they are mocked for not calling out the adolescent reporter who has accosted them on the street for perpetrating a fraud.

Including the AK-17 – a screw off nozzle fully semi automatic hacksaw uzi with a bullet button and detachable knife.

What is happening seems to be what Kelly Jones’ attorneys warned Judge Naranjo would happen if Alex Jones maintained what amounted to sole custody of their son.

From my July 20, 2017 First ReadingCase closed? Judge Naranjo issues final orders in Alex/Kelly Jones child custody case

Kelly Jones had joint conservatorship – that is joint custody –  even before the trial but, for all practical purposes, had only very limited visitation with her children, who had been living with Alex Jones since their divorce in 2015. With Naranjo’s order, she will, come this fall, share custody of their daughters 50-50 with her ex-husband, but will have to earn greater visitation rights with her son, who she can only now see in intermittent eight-hour increments.

Texas is the only state in the nation that allows jury trials in child custody cases and Kelly Jones and her lawyers had chosen a jury trial because they didn’t want to leave the decision to Naranjo.

But, as Naranjo reminded Kelly Jones and Hoffman yesterday, she has wide discretion in implementing the jury’s verdict in her order establishing the possession and access rules and schedule – that is determining exactly how much time each child spends with each parent.

Yesterday, Naranjo orally issued her determinations, with a final written order to follow.

Leading up to yesterday’s hearing – the second since the verdict – Kelly Jones and her lawyers worried that Naranjo was determined to simply ignore the jury verdict, and they were prepared, if necessary, to appeal her final order to the Court of Appeals, claiming that Kelly had been denied her right as a Texan to that jury verdict.

But Naranjo’s decision to grant her 50-50 access to her daughters in short order was better than they had feared, and Hoffman said afterward that there was no longer reason to appeal. 

(Note: Based on what has happened since, Kelly Jones said she is appealing, though she can no longer afford Hoffman.)

Kelly also said in court yesterday that the case had already cost her – from soup to nuts – between $500,00 and 800,000, and she was broke and in debt to her lawyers.

Meanwhile, it seemed that Alex Jones’ lawyers had less incentive to seek a new trial, though Randall Wilhite said today they are reserving a final decision on that.

But, he said, Alex Jones has indicated that he would like to see if they can make Naranjo’s order work.

Alex Jones has a new wife and a new baby and he has said in the past – their hammer-and-tong legal battle aside – that he would like to have his wife more evenly share custody of their children – as she was able.

But, there were other elements of Naranjo’s order that will be a particularly bitter pill for Kelly Jones to swallow.

Kelly Jones built her case against Alex on the argument she was a victim of parental alienation – that is  that Alex Jones had  effectively brainwashed their three child to hate her. Wilhite says that parental alienation is a self-exculpatory “fantasy” intended to excuse her from the consequences of her own actions.

I think most people observing the two-week trial thought Kelly Jones was on her way to losing the case until the end of the trail when Hoffman – “the closer” – systematically and quite effectively trashed all the expert testimony about the psychology of the relationship between the Joneses and their children, and presented a the case that what was really going on here was parental alienation, a phenomenon that Hoffman argued most all the court-appointed experts had been willfully blind to or ignorant of.

It appeared that Hoffman turned the jury because, if one bought Hoffman’s arguments about parental alienation, all the seemingly compelling evidence of the children’s devotion to their father and fear and loathing of their mother was really evidence of its opposite, evidence that, as Hoffman described it, Alex Jones was a kind of cult leader and his children were members of his cult.

From my story at the time:

In his closing argument Thursday, Kelly Jones’ attorney Robert Hoffman argued that she was the victim of parental alienation with Alex Jones brainwashing their children to align with him and turn against her.

“Mr. Jones is like a cult leader; the children appear to be cult followers, doing what Daddy wants them to do,” said Hoffman.

“Nobody knows how to stop this man,” Hoffman told the jury, and that, he said, included Judge Orlinda Naranjo, who throughout the trial repeatedly told Alex Jones to stop making faces and nodding and shaking his head in reaction to testimony.

“Nobody can stop this man except the 12 of you,” Hoffman said. “You have an unbelievable amount of power.”

When the jury returned its verdict it appeared that Hoffman’s argument had carried the day.

While both parents would retain joint conservatorship of the children, the jury designated Kelly – who had scarcely any visitation time going into the trial – as the primary parent, meaning she got to decide where their primary residence would be.

From my story on the verdict:

Alex Jones will share joint custody, which means that he will have visitation rights. But Kelly Jones and her lawyers want to begin the new arrangement with a period of time in which the children will live exclusively with her while they adjust to the new situation, followed by increased visitation with their father.

She also wants the family involved in a program for undoing parental alienation, the phenomenon in which one parent turns the children against another parent, which she and her lawyers argued was what happened to her when the children began living with Alex Jones. She said during the trial she is thinking of writing a book about it.

“I am so grateful to God that he has kept me and my family strong through this,” Kelly Jones said after the verdict. “I just pray that from what’s happend with my family, people can really understand what parental alienation syndrome is and get an awareness of it and we can stop this from happening in the future.”

But, while to Kelly Jones and her attorneys and to observers like myself, it appeared the parental alienation argument had made the difference, the jury doesn’t explain its reasoning in reaching its judgment.

After the trial, Alex Jones’ lawyers sought to reach all 12 jurors, and succeeded in talking with seven of them. All seven, Wilhite said, told them that jury had thoroughly reviewed the signs of parental alienation described by an expert witness called by Kelly Jones’ lawyers, and determined that in this case, “there was no parental alienation.”

Wilhite got unsworn declarations from the seven jurors to that effect, and informed Naranjo, but she said she did not want to see them.

Yeterday, Wilhite asked Naranjo to include in her order explicit language saying that there was no finding of parental alienation on his client’s part.

Naranjo did not respond to that request, but it was evident yesterday if it wasn’t before, that Naranjo simply did not buy parental alienation as a theory.

In the meantime, though, Kelly Jones has made parental alienation her life’s cause and built a web site  – – dedicated to using her story as an inspiration for other divorced mothers suffering from the phenomenon.

But Naranjo said that in her final order, she would enjoin Kelly Jones from pressing her claims of parental alienation with her children or on social media. She can, the judge said, no longer refer to Alex Jones as an “alienator,” and she said her order will also include some other words and phrases that Kelly Jones must now eschew. Naranjo also said that Kelly Jones can’t tell the children that “Judge Naranjo had undone the jury verdict,” something Kelly Jones denied having told them.

Naranjo said she looked into Family Bridges,which provides the deprogramming from parental alienation that Kelly Jones wanted her and her kids to take advantage of.

It describes itself as “an innovative educational and experiential program that helps unreasonably alienated children and adolescents adjust to living with a parent they claim to hate or fear.”

“I attempted to read up on it, and found “different perceptions about if it’s good or bad,” Naranjo said,

Ultimately she wasn’t sold on it.

Naranjo yesterday also expressed her anger and disappointment with Kelly Jones for, in her estimation, sabotaging the judge’s post-trial order that she engage in reconciliation therapy with her son and a therapist who had worked with her son and who the judge said she had pleaded to stay on the case to help bring mother and son together, even though Kelly Jones during the trial had said that, along with most of the other     court-appointed counselors and therapists involved in the case, she did not trust him.

Kelly Jones said she had showed up for the reconciliation therapy as required, but Naranjo said she arrived with such a bad and confrontational attitude that the therapist recused himself.

On Wednesday, Naranjo gave Kelly Jones a week to come up with a short list of other reconciliation therapists in the Austin area that the judge could choose from. And the judge’s order will require that Kelly Jones successfully complete three months of reconciliation therapy with her son and that chosen therapist, or risk not getting any more than eight-hour visits with him until he turns 18.

More broadly, Naranjo said that the Joneses can no longer disparage one another to their children or in a media, social media or public setting that could get back to their children.

They both, Naranjo said, had to put aside their selfish anger with one another for the children’s sake.


The months since the giddy moments after the jury verdict have taken their toll on Kelly Jones, on the composure she mustered during the trial.

Hoffman assured her afterward that they had made great progress in restoring her relationship with her children.

But ordering her to stop talking about parental alienation is like ordering Alex Jones to quit talking about  globalism, false flags, the deep state conspiracy to take out Donald Trump, or, well, on and on.

Or worse, if you believe that what she is talking about is real and what he is talking about is not.

But yesterday, it seemed, despite the jury verdict, Kelly Jones was still the one on trial, and the Jones who had to curb her tongue.

Cruz crows credit for census citizenship count that could cost Texas clout

Sen. Ted Cruz in New Braunfels on Feb. 20, 2018.

Good morning Austin:

Here is the top of the New York Times  story on reaction yesterday to Monday’s announcement by the Trump administration that it plans to add a question to the 2020 census, last seen in 1950, asking respondents if they are citizens.

At Least Twelve States to Sue Trump Administration Over Census Citizenship Question

WASHINGTON — At least 12 states signaled Tuesday that they would sue to block the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, arguing that the change would cause fewer Americans to be counted and violate the Constitution.

The New York State attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said he was leading a multistate lawsuit to stop the move, and officials in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington said they would join the effort. The State of California filed a separate lawsuit late Monday night.

“The census is supposed to count everyone,” said Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts. “This is a blatant and illegal attempt by the Trump administration to undermine that goal, which will result in an undercount of the population and threaten federal funding for our state and cities.”

The Constitution requires that every resident of the United States be counted in a decennial census, whether or not they are citizens. The results are used not just to redraw political boundaries from school boards to House seats, but to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal grants and subsidies to where they are needed most. Census data provide the baseline for planning decisions made by corporations and governments alike.

Opponents of the added citizenship question said it was certain to depress response to the census from noncitizens and even legal immigrants. Critics accused the administration of adding the question to reduce the population count in the predominantly Democratic areas where more immigrants reside, in advance of state and national redistricting in 2021.

The Trump administration defended the citizenship question by saying it was needed to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, which relies on accurate estimates of voting-eligible populations.

You will notice that Texas – which has the largest immigrant population and the largest non-citizen population of any state aside from California – was not among the states suing the federal government to keep that from happening.

And Sen. Ted Cruz not only praised the decision, he took some credit for it.

From a press release yesterday from Cruz’s office:

Cruz, Cotton, and Inhofe Applaud Addition of Citizenship Question to Census

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the Commerce Department announced that it would add a new question to the 2020 census asking respondents whether they were citizens of the United States. The news comes after U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) sent a letter to the Department asking it to add such a question and gather more accurate data on the number of U.S. citizens living in the country.

“I applaud Secretary Ross for honoring this request by my colleagues and me,” Sen. Cruz said. “It is imperative that the data gathered in the census is reliable, given the wide ranging impacts it will have on U.S. policy. A question on citizenship is a reasonable, commonsense addition to the census.”

“Counting the number of U.S. citizens in the country should be a high priority of the census, and the only way to get an accurate count is to add a question about citizenship to the census itself,” said Senator Cotton.

“Accurate census data that reflects the total number of U.S. citizens is a vital part of our democracy.” Inhofe said. “Without it, we can’t responsibly ensure equal representation for states in the House of Representatives or assess voter participation. I applaud the Census Bureau for adding this common-sense question.”

Unsurprisingly, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, Cruz’s re-election rival, took a different view:

Adding a Census question on citizenship is specifically intended to undercount communities with large immigrant populations. For El Paso, for Houston, for every community across our defining border state, that means a loss of millions in resources for health care, public education, infrastructure and transportation, disaster relief and preparedness, and the distribution of billions in federal funds critical to projects in Texas. Beyond these decade-long impacts on Texas families, it will also work in tandem with gerrymandering to erode the voting rights of those in our state and threaten our representation in the Federal government.”

According to a January 2016 report by the Pew Research Center – Mapping the Latino Electorate by State – California and Texas far and away lead the way, and in each case, Latinos represent 38.6 percent of the total population, but only 28 percent of the eligible voter population.

This is a function of large numbers of Latino immigrants who are not citizens, and the large population of younger Latinos who are citizens but are not yet of voting age.

And, it is worth noting, the Texas congressional district with the largest Latino eligible voter population and largest share Latino among eligible voters is O’Rourke’s 16th Congressional District, where Latinos represent 83.6 percent of the total population, and 61.9 percent of the share Latino among eligible voters. In O’Rourke’s district, 56.7 percent of Latinos are eligible to vote.

One consequence of this disconnect between total population and eligible voting population is that members of Congress from districts with large numbers of non-citizens are generally elected with fewer votes.

So, for example, in 2000, I wrote a story from the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles:

LOS ANGELES – The 2000 Democratic National Convention here is being held in the 33rd Congressional District. It is the poorest, most Hispanic district in all of California. Democrats win in the 33rd without breaking a sweat.

And yet these densely packed precincts of L.A. and the teeming small cities to its southeast offer a troubling puzzle to the Democrats, and to democracy itself. When Bill Clinton and Al Gore swept the 33rd in 1992, they also collected fewer voters here than in any other district in California.

That seeming contradiction is possible because the 33rd also owns the distinction of having the fewest registered voters of any California district, and not entirely because the locals are not organized or interested. It is, rather, because so many of those living here are not citizens at all, but immigrants not yet eligible to vote.


The congresswoman in California’s 33rd District is Lucille Roybal-Allard, whose father, Edward Roybal, a pioneer in Latino politics in Los Angeles, served in Congress for 30 years. Roybal-Allard won with 87 percent of the vote last time, but that was with only 43,310 votes. Across town, on L.A.’s Westside, U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman received three times as many votes on his way to a slightly less impressive percentage of the vote.

What that means is that Roybal-Allard ultimately must answer to a much smaller group of people than Waxman, and that the few who vote in her district wield power in ways that undermine the meaning of one man, one vote.

Conversely, states like California and Texas gain political muscle in Washington because of the strength of population numbers that include people who aren’t citizens and can’t vote.

Now, one could argue that Cruz here is placing political principle above the economic and political self-interest of Texas, and that would be a brave stand.

But, it is also a politically appealing stance for Cruz to his core Republican constituency.

As he puts it in the press release: A question on citizenship is a reasonable, commonsense addition to the census.

In other words, only nettlesome political correctness and a cowering unwillingness to ask someone living in the United States if he or she is a citizen makes what should be the very straightforward collecting of useful information into a problem.

But, having said that, one would also presume that as a senator from the second largest state, Cruz would contemplate the real-world impact of adding that question to the census, an impact that would play out very differently for Inhofe’s home state of Oklahoma or Cotton’s home state of Arkansas with relatively small non-citizen populations.

Below is from a spreadsheet provided me last night by demographer William Frey of the Brookings institution in Washington.

And here, from Pew, is a similar accounting of the “unauthorized immigrant population by state,” as of their last estimate in 2014

Most of the reaction yesterday focused on the economic impact to states and communities if, asking a citizenship question depresses the census response rate among non-citizens and their families – which often include a mix of citizens and non-citizens, legal and not legal.

An undercount when applied to formulas for federal aid and other resources could have a substantial impact.

“What we are doing here is requiring everyone to say whether or not they are a citizen and that sounds on the surface to a lot of people like a very logical thing,” Steve Murdock, the former Texas state demographer who served as director of the Census Bureau from 2007 to 2009, told me yesterday.

“My concern with this is for state like Texas, where we have a fairly significant number of people who are in undocumented status, is if they fail to get involved with the census because of this provision, states like Texas, states like California are going to find themselves with difficulty in covering the costs of services for a group of people who are not citizens but who are contributing to the economy and are essential to some parts of our economy,” said Murdock, who is now at Rice University.

An undercount could also affect the national reapportionment of congressional seats following the 2020 census.

In terms of political impact, Frey yesterday did a quick simulation and found that if 15 percent of non-citizens didn’t reply to the census because of the new question, California and New York would each lose a seat in the congressional reapportionment based on the 2020 Census, and Colorado and Montana would each gain a seat. Texas, which is now looking like it would gain three seats, would probably not be affected, according to Frey’s preliminary calculation.

But politically, this understates the potential impact because the addition of the citizenship question appears to be the prelude to an effort to change the way that state legislative districts and even congressional district seats are drawn by only counting the citizen population to draw districts and not the total population.

For Texas Republicans, drawing in-state legislative seats based on citizen population is all to the good. But if the same principle is applied to apportioning congressional districts nationally, it could potentially cost the state a couple of seats, and with it a couple of electoral votes. At present, Texas appears on track to gain three new congressional seats after the 2020 Census, but, a citizen-only count would reduce that number.

And that would be a high price to pay for principle.

This issue is somewhat familiar to me because in 2009 I was a Washington correspondent for the New Orleans Times-Picayune when Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, sought to add a question to the 2010 Census that would ask respondents both their citizenship and immigration status.

At the time, Queens College sociologist Andrew Beveridge estimated the impact of three different methods of counting population for reapportionment, with Texas getting two less seats if the count was limited to citizens instead of total population. (Note that Texas actually picked up four new seats as a result of the 2010 census, not the three Beveridge projected, bringing its total to 36, not 35.)

Like Cruz, Vitter was a staunch conservative and an immigration hard-liner. But, unlike Cruz, Vitter represented a state that would retain clout, not lose it, by only counting citizens for purposes of reapportionment.

(A quick aside for purposes of historical context. As I recounted in a recent First Reading – Recalling the effort to draft Stormy Daniels to run for U.S. Senate in Louisiana  2009 was the year that Stormy Daniels, three years after she now says she had sex with Donald Trump, apparently whetting her political appetite, undertook a listening tour of Louisiana as she contemplated challenging Vitter for re-election. I do not recall if Daniels took a position on putting a citizenship question on the census.)

From my Oct. 13, 2009 story in the Times-Picayune:

Vitter portrays his amendment as a last-ditch effort to protect the political power of Louisiana and other states with relatively small populations of people who are either not citizens or are not legal residents in the United States, and keep Louisiana from losing one of its seven congressional districts in the coming reapportionment.

The decennial census, required by the Constitution to count all “persons,” is used for the purposes of congressional apportionment and legislative redistricting. The result is that places with more people — regardless of their status — get more representation.

Or as Vitter put it in floor debate on his amendment last week, “States that have large populations of illegals would be rewarded for that. Other states, including my home state of Louisiana, would be penalized.”

Vitter said that in addition to Louisiana, the states of Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and South Carolina “would lose out.” He challenged the senators from those states, “if you vote against this amendment, then you are voting against the interests of your state.”

By far the biggest winner under the existing system is California, followed by Texas, New York and Florida.

But opponents of the measure described it as ill-advised, and in its intent, both unconstitutional and discriminatory.


A statement released this week by six former census directors also noted that the bureau also would have to scrap its $400 million outreach and promotional campaign built on the simplicity of the census short form’s 10 questions, a campaign that in many cases also explicitly promises that the form does not ask about immigration status.

Adding this new question now, they wrote, “would put the accuracy of the enumeration in all communities at risk.”

The fear is that households in which some folks are not legal will avoid enumerators, who then also will miss the legal people, including American-born children, living in the same household.

But perhaps, said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, that is the point.

“It’s intended to suppress the count of Latinos, ” said Vargas, a member of the Census Advisory Committee who was in New Orleans Tuesday to talk to foundation representatives about the census.

Under the amendment, the census still would be obliged to count everyone, but the additional information about citizenship and legal status then could be used to adjust the number that is used for the purpose of apportionment and redistricting, a move that would inevitably wind up before the Supreme Court for constitutional adjudication.

Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, said that as a practical matter, the Vitter-Bennett amendment comes too late, but that “Vitter’s concern is legitimate” and Louisianians are “right to worry” about a loss of power the way the current count is applied to reapportionment.

Camarota noted that, according to 2009 Current Population Survey, there are about 21.3 million noncitizens among the nation’s 305 million people. About half that 21.3 million are living here legally and about half are not. But, because those populations tend to be more concentrated in certain states, those states gain political power in ways that, he said, raise legitimate questions about democratic representation. In a study a few years ago, Camarota found that while in some states it took 100,000 votes to get elected to Congress, in a couple of districts in California, there were so few citizens that a candidate could get elected with 35,000 votes.

“We’re losing a member of Congress because of this, ” said Elliott Stonecipher, a pollster and demographic analyst from Shreveport, who has written extensively on the subject. While Stonecipher supports adding the citizenship question to the short form, he does not think it is a good idea to ask about legal status, which he feared would “suppress response.”

Roy Beck, executive director of Numbers USA, which supports lower immigration levels, said the group supports Vitter-Bennett because its members think that the power that accrues to communities whose population is inflated by those who are not in the country legally, “leads local and state officials to protect their illegal populations.”

Two days later, I wrote:

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., agreed Wednesday to modify his amendment requiring the 2010 census to ask all people their citizenship, even as he pleaded with colleagues to let him have an up-or-down vote on the issue.


Responding to the concerns of Elliott Stonecipher, a Shreveport pollster and demographic analyst who has championed the cause of adding the citizenship question to the census, Vitter agreed to drop language that would require the census short form to ask every person about their immigration status.

Stonecipher had said that a question probing into a person’s legal status might have the effect of scaring some respondents off. “I appreciate very much the senator’s choice to ask the citizenship question alone, ” Stonecipher said after Vitter made the adjustment.


Vitter wants the citizenship question to be on the census so he can press an effort to exclude noncitizens from reapportionment and redistricting counts, an effort that would change past practice and would almost certainly land before the Supreme Court if it managed to pass Congress and gain the president’s signature.

The practice of counting noncitizens in apportionment and redistricting may be time-honored, but Vitter said on the Senate floor Wednesday it is “crazy.” “It doesn’t pass the smell test, and it doesn’t meet the common sense test of the American people, ” he said.

“I don’t believe noncitizens should be counted in congressional reapportionment, ” Vitter said. “I don’t think states which have particularly large noncitizen populations should have more say and more clout in Congress, and that states like Louisiana that don’t should be penalized.”

Vitter’s effort ultimately failed in what was then a Democratic-controlled Senate.

From my Nov. 5, 2009 story:

Sen. David Vitter’s bid to require the 2010 Census to ask all respondents about their citizenship was killed today when the Senate voted to invoke cloture and end debate on the Commerce spending bill without having to consider the Louisiana Republican’s amendment.

The Democratic leadership, which had been trying to block the Vitter amendment since early October, eked out a victory with the bare number of votes needed to invoke cloture, prevailing 60 to 39.

Nonetheless, Vitter’s effort proved popular in Louisiana, though his Democratic colleague Sen. Mary Landrieu, while agreeing with him in principle, strenuously objected to Vitter’s approach.

But, as I wrote at the time:

It has also won the support of every member of the Louisiana House delegation save Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, R-New Orleans, but notably including Rep. Charlie Melancon, the Napoleonville Democrat who is challenging Vitter’s re-election. The six House members wrote Landrieu a collective letter urging her to join them in working to protect Louisiana from losing one of its seven House seats in 2010.

My guess is that Cruz’s approach will be very appealing to his base – even if it might mean a little less clout for Texas in D.C.

Cruz did not specifically say Tuesday that, a la Vitter, he wants to count only citizens for purposes of congressional reapportionment.

But that certainly seems where this is headed.

From the Cruz-Inhofe-Cotton press release, “Accurate census data that reflects the total number of U.S. citizens is a vital part of our democracy.” Inhofe said. “Without it, we can’t responsibly ensure equal representation for states in the House of Representatives or assess voter participation.”

It is a popular position with key Cruz allies, like U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who was critical to Cruz winning the Iowa presidential caucuses in 2016.

From a Jan. 2 story from Radio Iowa.

Republican Congressman Steve King says census-takers in 2020 should ask if people living in the United States are citizens.

“We need to be counting citizens instead of people for the purposes of redistricting,” King says. “That’s going to take at a minimum a statute and it may take a constitutional amendment and so in this upcoming Census, I want to count separately the citizens separate from the non-citizens, the lawfully present Americans separate from the illegal aliens that are here so that America can see how bad this is.”

King says if the Census is conducted as he proposes, Iowa would gain a congressional seat from a state like California.

“In districts like Maxine Waters, who only needs about 40,000 votes to get reelected in her district and it takes me over 120,000 in mine because hers is loaded with illegals and mine only has a few,” King says.

From a Jan. 24 Michael Scherer story for the Washington Post.

Republicans have repeatedly introduced bills mandating the collection of citizenship data — and its use in apportionment. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an immigration hard-liner, has pushed for a constitutional amendment that would create congressional districts based on the number of U.S. citizens instead of total population.

The Justice Department proposal has been cheered as a step in the right direction by those who argue it is unfair that districts with different numbers of citizens get the same congressional representation.

“At a time when the idea of foreign actors manipulating our electoral process is being given considerable attention, counting illegal aliens in the census for apportionment purposes is a substantive threat to our electoral integrity,” Dale L. Wilcox, the executive director and general counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, said in a statement. “To allow states with a large population of illegal aliens to be given political power at the expense of others is a perversion of the apportionment process.”

From a story by McClatchy’s Tony Pugh:

The Trump administration’s decision to include a controversial question about citizenship on the 2020 Census could set the stage for a larger legal battle over the way state legislative boundaries are crafted.

The outcome of that fight, which would likely be played out in the once-a-decade reapportionment that follows the 2020 Census, could result in a political power shift from urban, largely Democratic strongholds to suburban and rural areas where Republicans typically hold sway.

“It’s critical that the next redistricting cycle account for the citizen residents of districts so urban centers do not unfairly profit from the political subsidy that higher noncitizen populations provide,” said a statement by J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative voting rights group.

“If citizen-only population counts were applied to congressional districts in 2020, researchers have found it would cause Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, states with large immigrant populations, to collectively lose eight congressional seats.

Pugh noted that:

(I)n a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court case, Evenwel v. Abbott, plaintiffs argued that states should be able to use the citizen-only population in determining state legislative districts. Although the high court ruled that political districts could be based on total population, including non-eligible voters, their decision left open the possibility that states could use other data to draw their electoral maps.

Citizenship data collected from the new census question would work just fine, said Edward Blum, who launched the Evenwel case as president of the conservative Project on Fair Representation.

“If jurisdictions decide that during the redistricting process, they wish to equalize for citizenship, along with total population, that will now be a viable option for them,” said Blum, also a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Blum, who has launched numerous lawsuits against affirmative action policies and voting rights laws nationwide, said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross made a “good decision” to include the citizenship question.

In his coverage of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Evenwel v. Abbott, Adam Liptak of the New York Times wrote on April 4, 2016:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday that states may count all residents, whether or not they are eligible to vote, in drawing election districts. The decision was a major statement on the meaning of a fundamental principle of the American political system, that of “one person one vote.”

“We hold, based on constitutional history, this court’s decisions and longstanding practice, that a state may draw its legislative districts based on total population,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court.

As a practical matter, the ruling mostly helped Democrats and upheld the status quo.

But until this decision, the court had never resolved whether voting districts should contain roughly the same number of people or the same number of eligible voters. Counting all people amplifies the voting power of places that have large numbers of residents who cannot vote legally — including immigrants who are here legally but are not citizens, illegal immigrants and children. Those places tend to be urban and to vote Democratic.

Had the justices required that only eligible voters be counted, the ruling would have shifted political power from cities to rural areas, a move that would have benefited Republicans.

The case concerned a clash between two theories of representative democracy. One seeks to ensure “representational equality,” with elected officials tending to the interests of the same number of people, whether they are voters or not. The other tries to ensure that only those who have political power in the form of a vote control the government.

Justice Ginsburg sided with the first theory. “Nonvoters have an important stake in many policy debates — children, their parents, even their grandparents, for example, have a stake in a strong public-education system — and in receiving constituent services, such as help navigating public-benefits bureaucracies,” she wrote in her majority opinion. “By ensuring that each representative is subject to requests and suggestions from the same number of constituents, total population apportionment promotes equitable and effective representation.”

The decision was more notable for what it did not do than for what it did. As Justice Ginsburg noted, “all states use total population numbers from the census when designing congressional and state-legislative districts.”

The case came from Texas, which counts everybody, but officials there had asked the court to give state lawmakers the option of using different criteria.The Supreme Court did not decide whether other ways of counting were permissible.

“We need not and do not resolve whether, as Texas now argues, states may draw districts to equalize voter-eligible population rather than total population,” Justice Ginsburg wrote.


Many political scientists say there are practical obstacles to counting only eligible voters, a point Justice Alito echoed. “The decennial census required by the Constitution tallies total population,” he wrote. “These statistics are more reliable and less subject to manipulation and dispute than statistics concerning eligible voters.”

But, for those who want to reapportion and redistrict using citizen numbers only, adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census would remove one of those practical obstacles.

To `catch some lightning.’ On Rick Treviño’s perhaps not entirely impossible CD-23 dream.


Good Monday Austin:

That’s Rick Treviño backstage at the Brick at the Blue Star Arts Complex in San Antonio on Friday, March 9, with Bernie Sanders and Jim Hightower, three days after Treviño secured a spot in a May runoff for the Democratic nomination in the 23rd Congressional District.

But first, for a little background, let’s back up those three days, to primary election night.

I was at the Dallasite, one of Eater Dallas‘ 12 essential dive bars, which that night was also home to the Dallas County Democratic Party gathering, featuring Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez. I arrived early at the Dallasite, where I was made to feel very much at home by Rhonda Nail, who that very day was celebrating what I think was her 40th anniversary of owning the bar.

Sometime after midnight, still sitting at the bar at the Dallasite, I checked the results in the Democratic primary in the 23rd Congressional District. I was stunned by what I saw. Gina Ortiz Jones was well out in front, but nowhere near the 50 percent plus one she would need to avoid a runoff.

Jay Hulings, the chosen candidate of the Castro brothers, who was thought to be her prime opponent, was running fourth, and there, battling for second, were Rick Treviño and Judy Canales.

I have known Treviño, now 33, for five years, I first met him at a Battleground Texas organizing meeting at a Luby’s in San Antonio in the spring of 2013. I was working on a story about Battleground, which was drawing considerable interest at the time, and Treviño was there checking them out. He was at once eager, earnest and skeptical, very smart, politically well-read and wanting to know more.

He had just finished reading Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent.


The guy was spot on in the 80s, even before that. There is one party in this country and it’s called the business party. Everything he said was just so brilliant and honest.

Treviño was also intensely issue oriented, and his issue at the time (and to this day) was the peril of chained CPI, which he had learned about by watching Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wave his arms about it on the Senate floor.


My Republican friends and some Democrats have said that lowering Cost-Of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) through the adoption of a chained-CPI would be a “minor tweak” in benefits.

But, let’s be clear: for millions of disabled veterans and seniors living on fixed incomes, the chained CPI is not a minor tweak. It is a significant benefit cut that will make it harder for permanently disabled veterans and the elderly to feed their families, heat their homes, pay for their prescription drugs, and make ends meet. This misguided proposal must be vigorously opposed.

Supporters of the chained-CPI want the American people to believe that the COLAs that disabled veterans, senior citizens, and the surviving spouses and children who have lost loved ones in combat are too generous.

That is simply not true. In two out of the last three years, disabled veterans and senior citizens did not receive any COLA. And, next year’s COLA of 1.7% is one of the lowest ever. Lowering COLAs even further through the adoption of a chained-CPI would be an absolute disaster.

I had only been in Texas for a few months, but it seemed to me I could learn a lot by talking to Rick and seeing things through his eyes.

We have kept in touch ever since – in person and by phone, over coffee and beer. He kept me abreast of his thinking and ambitions, as he made his way into Democratic Party politics, into the Bernie Sanders campaign, into a run for City Council in San Antonio and eventually into this very longshot candidacy for Congress.

I saw him at the 2016 Democratic State Convention in San Antonio…

At the Democratic National Convention in Cleveland, where he was a Bernie Sanders delegate…

In mid-October, we went to see Lawrence Wright and his band WhoDo play their Sunday evening gig at the Skylark Lounge. Treviño was deeply informed by Wright’s book The Looming Tower, about the history leading to 9/11.

He was hoping that, after the set, he might be able to ask Wright about the House Intelligence Committee (Hulings is a former counsel to the committee) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (where Jones worked.) Wright was friendly when Treviño approached him, but said he he couldn’t get involved and considered Hurd a friend.

And, in early September, I ran into Rick and Alejandro Lamothe, a supporter of his from San Antonio, at the Texas Democratic Party’s Johnson-Jordan Dinner at the Hotel Van Zandt at which Joe Kennedy III, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, was the keynote speaker.

Treviño and Lamothe couldn’t afford tickets to the dinner, so they had just audited it. I had spent the dinner videotaping Kennedy’s speech on my phone, so afterward we walked around the corner from the Van Zandt to Rainey Street and got a pizza from the Via 313  truck in back of Craft Pride.

At some point that night, after they had brought me up to date on the campaign, either Rick or Alejandro asked what I thought about his chances, and I said that I didn’t think he stood much of a chance, because, I didn’t.

Yet six months later, there he was, after midnight on primary night, in a seesaw battle for a spot in a runoff.

In May of 2017, Treviño had, by fewer than 30 votes, missed making a runoff for a seat on the San Antonio City Council, and it looked like this might be deja vu all over again.

With a few percent of the vote still untabulated, I texted him at close to 1 in the morning, congratulating him on his showing and wondering, amid the uncertainty, if he was able to breathe. I was up for another few hours, Treviño fell a little behind, but, when I fell asleep around 3  a.m., the outcome remained uncertain.

I woke up next morning and the first thing I saw was a text from Rick from shortly after I had fallen asleep., “Dude I’m up now 80+” Treviño had finished second in the Democratic primary for the 23rd Congressional District, forcing a May runoff election for what should be for Democrats the most flippable district in Texas.

It was a remarkable performance by Treviño.

Yes, he had finished a distant second to Gina Ortiz Jones, a lesbian, Filipino-American, Iraq War veteran, who had significant financial support from groups that would like to elect a woman, a lesbian, a veteran and an Asian-American to Congress. But, among the candidates Treviño defeated was Hulings, the chosen candidate of the Castro brothers, who had the generous financial support of their allies, and endorsements from much of the local Hispanic political leadership.

Meanwhile Treviño had run, with virtually no money in this vast district – Jones has pointed out it is geographically bigger than France – on really nothing more than the strength of the ideas he shares with Sanders.

My last previous First Reading (I’ve been gone for ten days) was about how Mary Wilson ran ahead of Joseph Kopser in the Democratic primary in the 21st Congressional District, spending $39,000 to Kopser’s more than $600,000. I quoted David Logan, Wilson’s 22-year-old campaign consultant, as saying,“The way to take money out of politics is to make money irrelevant in politics.”

Wilson, who will face Kopser again in the May runoff, ran first. Treviño ran a distant second. But the lesson was much the same and no less surprising.

From Garcia’s story.

While those of us who claim to know something about politics assumed that election night would send Jones and Hulings into a runoff, Treviño knew better.

Sure enough, in one of the great underdog stories of Tuesday’s Texas primary, Treviño finished second (albeit a distant second) to Jones and appeared to secure himself a position in the May 22 runoff. Hulings finished fourth.

There are no established laws of political science by which this should have been possible.

Trevino, 33, is a history teacher who gave up his job at Sam Houston High School last fall to run for Congress. He has never held elective office. He had minimal funding and a do-it-yourself organization. He ran no TV ads.

He called Goldman Sachs “f***ing evil.” He ridiculed so-called corporate Democrats, who champion big business more than organized labor, by tweeting, “Neoliberalism f***ing sucks.”

Treviño’s overriding message is that his fellow Dems have become so consumed with cautiously threading the electoral needle that they’ve forgotten to stand for something. He was an early advocate for Bernie Sanders’ insurgent presidential campaign in 2016, leading a San Antonio for Sanders group and serving as a Sanders delegate at the Democratic National Convention.

Until now, I have written about Treviño only once before – in a story last summer about the field forming for the Democratic nomination in the 23rd.

I will more than make up for that in today’s First Reading, much of which is based on a post-election conversation I had with him over dinner at Krause’s Cafe in New Braunfels – a convenient midpoint between Austin and San Antonio –   on March 11.

As it happened, Treviño’s moment of (relative) triumph came on the eve of a visit by Sanders for a couple of speeches in San Antonio.

Treviño spoke before Sanders.

Treviño recalls the scene backstage:

Jim (Hightower) was telling Bernie about me.

Bernie asks, “What’s his name?”

“Rick Treviño,” and Bernie writes it down.

“And here he is,” Jim says.

I said, “I left my job. I left my insurance. And I took all of my savings because I knew it would work, and now here I am. And I beat a DCCC candidate (Huling) that raised $500,000.”

And then (Sanders) puts up his hands, like a fighter, and then he touched me and he hugs me and he says he’s very proud of me and the movement’s very proud of me and then I introduce him to my girlfriend and he was very warm and he hugs her and says, “Let’s all get a picture together.”

It was funny, when he threw up the fists, funny, the boxing thing, because the first thing I thought of when I won was Cassius Clay, “I shook up the world. I shook up the world.” When I saw OR (Our Revolution) congratulating me, I put up a GIF, “I shook up the world.”

That’s really what it was. It felt so great and exciting, and to see Bernie there, telling me he’s proud of what I’m doing. It did mean something to me. It did mean something to me. I’m not going to allow myself to miss that fact.

Then after his speech I was standing on the side and he was standing right next to me, and I was like, this is super cool.

None of this was ever intentional. I never expected to be in the position that I’m in.

I just had a passion for politics and I just happened to stumble upon people that guided me and prepared me for this message. Like I was reading Jeffrey Sachs in 2010. I was reading Matt Taibbi, I was reading Joseph Stiglitz, I was reading all these guys and when Bernie ran, guess who’s helping him out? These same figures. It just seemed like it was not all by accident, but it was. It was never intentional.

I just kept doing what I thought felt right. These politics feel right for me.

On Friday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee gave its official imprimatur to Jones, adding her to its Red-to-Blue program.

The key to winning back a Democratic House is right here — with diverse candidates like those below. Red to Blue is a highly competitive and battle-tested program at the DCCC that arms top-tier candidates with organizational and fundraising support to help them continue to run strong campaigns. Come November, these candidates and others will take the fight to Paul Ryan’s House Republicans — and fight to flip these seats from red to blue.

Treviño greeted this as good news.

From Treviño in the Intercept story:

“The DCCC has an incredibly terrible track record in CD-23, and it’s great to know that they’re going to have all their hands all over Gina’s race,” he told The Intercept.

“I hope they send the same folks who have worked the district in the past,” he added, noting that the DCCC had “led Gallego to two consecutive losses,” referring to former candidate Pete Gallego, who declined to take a third crack at the seat this cycle.

The only thing better for Treviño than the party supporting his opponent could be it attacking him directly. The DCCC’s entry into a nearby Democratic primary ended up being a boon for Laura Moser. Her fundraising skyrocketed, and she will also be joining the May 22 runoff against an establishment opponent. An analysis of polls leading up to the primary suggested that the DCCC intervention pushed her into the runoff.

National media has focused heavily on Ortiz Jones’s identity, given that she is a lesbian, Filipina-American, and an Iraq War veteran.

She’s also backed by a phalanx of establishment Washington, D.C. organizations, such as  EMILY’s List and VoteVets.  She was also on the 2016 Defense Council of the Truman National Security Project, a Democratic Party-leaning D.C. group that grooms young national security leaders. The lion’s share of her campaign funding (63 percent) comes from individuals giving donations of over $200 a pop.

When asked about the DCCC endorsement, Ortiz Jones spokesperson Lauren Coffee boasted about a range of support, but conspicuously did not mention the party organization in her response.

“As Gina has traveled the district and spoken with folks from San Antonio to El Paso, we hear over and over again how ready people are for new leadership,” she said. “We’re proud to have built a strong coalition of support from grassroots leaders, to local elected officials, to organizations like Democracy for America, VoteVets, the Progressive Caucus, the Equality Caucus, EMILY’s List, and Victory Fund. This designation is a further testament to the growing, grassroots campaign we’re running.”

Meredith Kelly, a spokesperson at the DCCC, noted a long list of local and national endorsements helped win support for Ortiz Jones:

Rep. Diego Bernal
Rep. Ina Minjarez
Rep. Mary Gonzalez
Rep. Cesar Blanco
Rep. Poncho Nevarez
Former State Senator Leticia Van De Putte
Former State Senator Wendy Davis
March On! Texas
CWA Local 6143
El Paso East side Democrats
EMILY’s List
Vote Vets
Victory Fund
Equality PAC
Asian American Action Fund
Women Under Forty
Giffords PAC
Serve America PAC
Democracy for America
People for the American Way
Arena PAC
Feminist Majority
Khizr Khan
Jason Kander
Common Defense
Treviño, on the other hand, has counted on small-dollar donations to run his campaign, while the backing of Sanders-aligned groups like Our Revolution, the National Nurses United, Brand New Congress, and the Justice Democrats.

Most of Jones’ money came from DC, NY and Massachusetts. These are her top donors.

While Treviño’s welcoming the DCCC embrace of his opponent might sound like bluster and making the best of a bad situation, I think he is right that it has provided him with exposure he would not otherwise have gotten, while nicely re-enforcing his central argument – that he is the anti-establishment candidate. He is also right that the available evidence so far this year is that it may be better to be on the outs with the DCCC.

I think this may especially be the case in the 23rd.

According to figures compiled by the Pew Hispanic Center six of the eight congressional districts with the largest share Latino among eligible voters, are in Texas. The 23rd ranks number seven in order of Latino share of the electorate nationally. As of 2016, 72 percent of the total population and 52 percent of eligible voters in the 23rd are Latino.

Four of the other top eight districts are held by Mexican-American Democrats from Texas. Two are held by Cuban-American Republicans from Florida. And the other two are held by Hurd, an African-American Republican, and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, an Anglo from El Paso, who represents the 16th Congressional District, which has the highest share Latino of eligible voters of any district in the nation.

O’Rourke, who is the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, will almost certainly be succeeded by Veronica Esocbar, a Mexican-American Democrat who won the Democratic nomination to succeed him.

That would leave the 23rd, next Congress, as the only district among the top eight with the largest Hispanic electorates without an Hispanic representative if either Hurd or Jones is elected in November. (Of the top 15 districts with the largest share Latino voting population, only one other, number 15 – CD-35 represented by Austin’s Lloyd Doggett – is not represented by a Latino.)

As for the name Ortiz, the Philippines were under Spanish colonial rule from 1521 to 1898, so I can’t begin to sort out the significance of that name in her family history and identity. But she is, in the ordinary parlance of American politics, Asian-American and not Hispanic, as Angela Villescaz, another of the five Democratic candidates in the primary, indelicately pointed out at a Bexar County Democratic Party forum on Feb. 21 at the Luby’s where I first met Treviño, five years earlier.

Villescaz said that Will Hurd had used the same skills that enabled him to blend into Pakistani society as a covert CIA operative to fit into the 23rd Congressional District.

“He’s an imposter,” Villescaz said. “I’m just asking you, I’m just warning you, don’t let that happen again.”

Gesturing toward Jones, Villescaz said. “We have some candidates and the district thinks that they’re Hispanic, because of a middle name, and they think that they’re going to elect the first Latina, and they’re mistaken, because this candidate is Asian.”

Hulings, meanwhile, is a Garcia on his mother’s side, but did not make use of that name, which clearly could have helped him, in his campaign.

As Gilbert Garcia wrote in this post-eletion story:  To be sure, identity politics hurt Hulings in this sprawling Latino-majority district — which extends from South San Antonio to El Paso County. He had to contend with the perception that he was the Anglo in the race, despite the fact that his mother’s family name is Garcia. To his credit, Hulings didn’t try pulling the phony move of suddenly identifying himself as Jay Garcia Hulings, even though it would have helped his cause.

Villescaz’s attack on Jones appeared to make the other candidates uncomfortable.

But the fact remains that the DCCC is putting its thumb on the scale to keep a Latino from representing the 23rd Congressional District.

Consider this hypothetical scenario.

If this were a majority black district, and there was a primary in which a white candidate faced four black candidates, and the white candidate won 41.47 percent of the vote in the primary, and the four black candidates collectively won 58.53 percent of the vote, would the DCCC throw its weight behind making sure that the white candidate prevailed in the runoff to represent the majority-black district?

Would they consider the possibility, that the black candidate, or in this case the Latino candidate, might have an advantage in a majority-minority district, especially when the Republican candidate was not of the same race or ethnicity as the district majority?

And remember, they could simply choose to stay out of it.

And, if  Jones is the Democratic nominee, rest assured that, even if Hurd and his campaign don’t do it themselves, Republicans will find a way to let Latino voters in CD 23 know that she is not one of them, and that she is trying pull one over on them, even if they do it with a little more care for getting her last name right than Karl Rove did on a recent appearance on  Fox News Sunday.

From the Fox News Sunday transcript:

ROVE: Twenty-third district of Texas, one Democratic nominee is Gina Ortiz Turner (ph).


ROVE: Who has never used the word Ortiz ever in her professional life and probably doesn’t — that’s not her real middle name. Why? Identity politics.

It is fair to say that, one way or the other, the Jones campaign is playing identity politics.

You can listen to her here on the Nerds of Color podcast: Southern Fried Asian – Gina Ortiz Jones.

Gina talks about raised Filipina American in San Antonio and the cultural similarities between the city’s Filipino and Latino communities (3:30). They also talk about having progressive ideals in a red state (7:40) and why all politics are “identity politics” (11:00). She then shares her mother’s immigrant story (12:20) and why she left the Trump Administration to run for office (14:20) with the potential to be the first openly gay Asian American woman to represent Texas in congress (25:00). Finally, she shares her affinity for San Antonio’s breakfast tacos and why they’re so hard to get right outside of Texas (29:00).

There she was, third row center, on the cover of Time Magazine – among The Avengers: First they marched, now they’re running.

She was profiled in TeenVogue:

If Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer, ends up heading to Washington after the midterm elections, she would be breaking barriers as the first openly gay woman of color from Texas elected to Congress, as well as the first Iraq War veteran to represent Texas in Congress. She’d also be the first woman to represent Texas’s 23rd Congressional District.

But before she can plan for a historic victory, Ortiz Jones must face off against four other Democratic challengers on the ballot in the state’s March 6 primary. All are hopeful for the chance to unseat Hurd, who won reelection in 2016 in the most expensive House race in Texas history, and win a seat considered to be one of the top five targets for Democrats to flip in 2018.

Texas’s majority Republican legislature gerrymandered Texas’s 23rd, where nearly half of the constituents are women and nearly 70% identify as Hispanic. In the past, the district has proved difficult for both Democrats and Republicans to hold, with four incumbents losing their reelection bids since 2006. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the district by 3.4% in 2016, a fact that could suggest the blue wave is on its way to the Texas prairies.

Ortiz Jones has proven herself a formidable contender in a very competitive primary, steadily collecting enough donations to come in first in overall fund-raising among Democratic candidates and earning the endorsement of groups such as Emily’s List, VoteVets, the Asian American Action Fund, and the Equality PAC. Since launching her campaign in August 2017, Ortiz Jones has learned that in addition to immigration, voters are focused on health care and ensuring equitable economic opportunities. “No one needs to remind me to care about these issues,” she says. Engaging the electorate “starts with electing folks that are not only representative of their views, but certainly representative of their backgrounds.”


This lady’s getting all the press that my district doesn’t read. Maybe some do, but I think  most working people in District 23  don’t read TeenVogue. I’m not Sherlock Holmes or Joe Trippi, but I think it’s mostly a song-and-dance for the donors and she was doing it better than Jay. Jay was doing the Macarena and she’s doing whatever’s fresh now.

From Bill Lambrecht with the Washington bureau of the San Antonio Express-News:

(Treviño) is the son of two nurses; his mother was born in Nuevo Laredo and his father in Laredo. He taught history and geography at Sam Houston High School before his candidacy. A class project he supervised on “food deserts” — a shortage of nutritious foods in some San Antonio neighborhoods — won a letter of praise from the Obama White House.

Treviño, 32, was regional organizer for the presidential quest of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and, much like Sanders, advocates a host of liberal solutions — among them single-payer national health insurance, also known as “Medicare for All.”

He observed that the brunt of Jones’ financial backing is national rather than from Texas. “She is the establishment candidate. Her song-and-dance is for the donor class,” he said.

Treviño took aim at Jones’ background in Air Force intelligence, noting that it resembles that of Hurd, a former CIA operative.

“I think this district deserves someone with more relatable life experiences, someone 100 percent invested in domestic issues,” he said.

Jones, 37, is a San Antonio native who received a four-year Air Force ROTC scholarship to attend Boston University after graduating near the top of her class at Jay High School.

She was deployed to Iraq as an Air Force intelligence officer and later worked on national security and trade issues in the Obama administration.

Responding to Treviño, Jones, who is openly gay, said she is proud of the support she has received from national organizations.

“They are looking to represent people who have been traditionally underrepresented,” she said. “Whether you’re talking about women or veterans or the LGBT community, they are the communities that have the most to lose by not being represented.”

She added: “I’m a first-generation American raised by a single mother. I’ve got the personal experiences to know what’s going on in Washington and how it affects the folks of this district.”

Reciting that quote, Treviño tells me:

So basically she’s saying if Rick Treviño is elected he won’t represent women and veterans and LGBTQIA. But she wouldn’t appreciate it if I said, “Well you’re not Latina so you can’t represent 70 percent.” She wouldn’t think that was fair.

Treviño says he doesn’t begrudge Jones using Ortiz in the campaign.

Just like I’m not going out of my way to let folks know that I’m now Rick Treviño the country singer, Gina’s not going out of her way to let people know that she’s not Latina, and politically that was very smart.

The very first day of elementary school at Gutierrez Elementary School in Laredo Texas, the receptionist said, “Oh Rick Trevino, like the country singer,”and little did I now that for the next twenty-something years I would hear that. But apparently, he’s well liked.

Me? Yeah I like the guy. Hell, yeah. I know that some people walked into that booth on Election Day and  didn’t know anything  and saw Rick Treviño and said, “That song Dr. Time kicks ass.”

If I ever meet him I’m going to say, “Thank you for being a well-liked guy in South Texas. You earned me some vote because you’re a cool guy.  Keep it up dude.”

Indeed, Treviño said he paid special attention to campaigning in counties where there were other, unrelated Treviños on the ballot.


RT: LaSalle County had a Treviño running and I won LaSalle County.

“It’s not all about ideas and issues,”Treviño said. “It’s about making all these personal connections and maybe people like your name.”

In its choice of Jones over Treviño, the DCCC is playing out an ongoing mutual hostility between the party’s leadership and the Sanders wing.

When he first got involved in Democratic Party politics, Treviño says:

 I thought all these Democratic candidates were cool. I thought the Castro brothers were awesome, but then when I learned about the Bernie issues – a living wage and health care for all – I expected the Castro brothers to be right there with him

I was really surprised when I found out the Castro brothers weren’t as cool as I thought, and by that I mean,  what I found out about the Democratic Party is that they are down with social issues, or at least they  campaign on social issues, but on economic issues they don’t even campaign on those at all, and you look a little closer at the social issues, and it’s just platitudes.

Not to say that they aren’t nice people, I  honestly think that they think hey are doing good work. but they’re not. I’m sorry. This country sucks for most people. It only really rocks for the elites.

And who the hell is voting for (New York City Mayor) de Blasio and (former New York City Mayor Michael) Bloomberg? It’s liberals. They’re the ones who came up with stop-and-frisk, and broken windows style policing and they talk about mass incarceration,  but the same things libs rail against, about a broken criminal justice system, they vote for it all the time.

When you first ran into me that was an angry time for me because I really invested a lot of my emotion, my time, I identified as a Democrat, and then it’s been broken for me, you see that it has not done anything for my people, and when I talk about my people, I’m talking about Mexican-Americans, and some people take umbrage of me framing it that way but at the same time, look at American politics, look at the Republican Party. It’s basically a white party. You don’t create that racial homogeneity by accident.

When I decided to run I as going to run as that progressive Latino that this district has never had. There have been analogues to me, but not recently.

I’m in this runoff right now because I knocked on a lot of doors. I hustled. I talked to people who I thought would resonate with my campaign. She got here her way, and I got here my way, and I will win or lose this way.

And if that means I will never see higher office, that’s a shame, that it really is all about the money, and that we’re an oligarchy and now we’ve really got to come to terms with that.

I met a lot of people who admire me for the way I did it , the same way I admire Bernie, because he did it on his own terms,  without them and that’s why he is the force he is now because he did it on his own terms.

Treviño saw Jones in the audience when Sanders spoke at Trinity University in San Antonio the Friday after the primary.

Our Revolution is about getting working class, non-traditional candidates to represent the most vulnerable and forgotten who normally don’t get represented. When I saw her there, I don’t see how you could be a candidate who raised hundred of thousands of dollars mostly from D.C. and N.Y. and think when people are clapping, they are clapping for what you did.

In his story on the race, Gilbert Garcia wrote how,”In the final weeks of the Democratic primary race in U.S. District 23, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) became a big issue.”

Rick Treviño took a different tack. He used the BRAC issue as an invitation to critique American militarism.

During a February 27 debate at KLRN’s downtown studios, Treviño acknowledged the military’s importance to this city, but added, “I think it’s unfortunate, though, that so many communities rely on war and destruction for an economy, for good paying jobs.”

 As Treviño finished his thought, two gray-haired Latina Democrats in the audience raised their fists in a show of solidarity.


At the KLRN debate when I was asked about BRAC, I wanted to talk about why so many people rely on those bases for jobs and that’s sad.

Those aren’t the economies we want. If we really want to be a world at peace we have to move away from this, and those are hard discussions. And that is the political masterstroke of these industries is that they go into economically distressed places and these places end up embracing them.

Taibbi recently talked about how he recalls Kucinich bringing up the Department of Peace, and people laughing at him. Well, why is that a crazy idea, a department just committed to peace? And he was laughed at. And I really admire Kucinich for that because you listen to him talk about it and it really is a beautiful message.

For the Jones campaign, her background is an asset in taking on Hurd with his intelligence background.

Here’s here bio from when she was a Next Generation Fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Gina Jones: Special Adviser to the Deputy Director, Defense Intelligence Agency

Ms. Gina Jones currently serves as the Special Adviser to the Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). In this capacity, she leads the development and implementation of strategic initiatives across the Agency. Gina began her intelligence career as an Intelligence Officer in the US Air Force, which included a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Between 2006 and 2008, she served as a Senior Consultant to US Army South, the element responsible for US Army operations in Latin America. In 2008, Gina joined DIA as one of the initial members of US Africa Command. Within the intelligence directorate, she led a small, multi-disciplined team of intelligence analysts, tasked with infusing analysis and operational planning with socio-cultural analysis. Her analysis directly supported policymakers and operational planners and shaped the command’s engagements with African partner-nations. Gina was recognized for her contributions as a lead analyst within the Intelligence Crisis Cell that supported coalition operations in Libya. Gina has advanced degrees from the US Army School of Advanced Military Studies, the University of Kansas, and Boston University. A Council on Foreign Relations Term Member, she is originally from San Antonio, TX.

But, Treviño says:

I really do believe to win an election you have to create clarity for voters, make it simple for them to see the choices. If you share policy positions with the person you are running against, that clarity is going to be hard to create. They have similar positions on the border wall. The debate is going to be muddled.

Whereas, I’m a completely different person than Will Hurd.

I talk about the issues outside of their framing.  All these Democrats, when you ask about the border, they talk the same.

When I talk about the border I talk about why people are coming to America – globalization, NAFTA, CAFTA, all the forces that propel people to our shores. We have he highest migrant population in the world since World War II, that’s because of us, what we did. We don’t talk about our role in creating this migrant population, and also we don’t talk about it in the era of mass incarceration, that the private prison industry is the one that’s directing the mission of ICE, the Department of Homeland Security. It’s really about filling these prison cells because they have quotas to meet and contracts with county, state and federal governments. If you talk to Republicans or Democrats, they don’t want to talk about those things.

That’s where Democrats hurt themselves. They talk about issues that have been dictated in the right-wing framing – immigration, foreign policy, even health care. I don’t play by those rules and because I don’t people listen to what I say because its sounds different.

And this is going to be a wave year. That’s something that Democrats are really banking on, and if it’a a wave year, and I know this because when we talk about tsunamis I used to teach world geography and when a tsunami hits, everything comes up to shore – the good and the bad.

And in terms of an election year, the good and the bad candidates are going to get there. And what’s interesting to see is that, even with this moment, with this huge blue wave going on, what’s interesting to see is that Democrats still censor themselves because they think these are not winnable issues, but in a year when that doesn’t matter, why do you see Democrats still censor themselves and hold themselves back?

And what it turn out is that the donors don’t want what we want. The donors like the society that we have now. And the fact that they are still reining themselves in, restraining themselves in this moment goes to show that they never, ever wanted what we wanted.

Even people who are surprised I won, who are supporting me, still think I need more money , and I’ve just proved that that may not be the case

I need resources, but not as much as people think we need.

Look at what we just accomplished. Look at what Judy Canales accomplished. Look at that Mary Wilson accomplished. We accomplished the impossible.

It’s not impossible. It was always there but nobody ever tried it. Mary tried. I tried it and I think that’s what that Bernie message at Trinity was about. Don’t be intimidated by these people who don’t want regular people to enter because they know they’ve got just as much of a shot as some millionaire-backed candidate. And that’s great.

A lot of people can run. And, honestly, if we had more teachers and nurses in D.C. we wouldn’t have 27 million people without health care, a minimum wage of $7.25 and a foreign policy that really is, in my opinion, evil.

Look at he Yemen war, our arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and just look at the history of the United States

I think I’m the right candidate for this moment. I am the right candidat to take on Gina. I’m the right candidate to take on Hurd. And they’re about to reckon with a force that they can’t control because they are bought. I do think they are going to lose. I’m confident. I think that I can do it.

You know how they say a win’s a win? 

For me it was more just about getting to this moment, just the way I got in, 17.5 percent compared to 41.whatever percent that she got. Right now we’re both at zero-zero. 

Something like cash on hand. That’s really more for a candidate like Gina. For me, it’s just about getting to this level. 

Usually the choice is establishment candidate vs.  establishment candidate. Now they have that rare opportunity to not only vote for somebody who is not beholden to anybody but them, not beholden to the D.C. interests who usually control their votes, but they get to vote for somebody who is a working class person just like them.  They have an opportunity to vote for the future of the part . I truly really do believe that  Millennials  are not going to abandon these politics.

This is a great opportunity for the district to elect somebody who is like a Bernie. Bernie got there by not playing the game the same as others. The only money I’m taking is from working people and unions, and I’m proud to fundraise from those entities.

It’s pretty exciting.

You’ve been following me a long time and I’ve always had the intention to kind of break through and I did. I just kept believing in it, kept believing in myself and believing in my ideas.

Just like it made sense to me it made sense to other people. I’m not some rare thing. I’m just a person like anybody less. What i know is accessible to a lot people. It’ not like theoretical mathematics or quantum physics. You’vejust got to read a couple of  books, watch a couple of  documentaries and you get it. 

And that’s why I have a lot of faith, because I was able to see the light. Because if you had caught me in 2010 and said something bad about Obama or the Democratic Party, I would have been, “What are you talking about?” But I’m now that person telling that Democrat, “Hey, you’re party, it’s bought. Our party is bought, and we’ve got to do something about it.”

It’s kind of like a dare kind of thing,. I take the dare. I’ll do it.

As our night at Krause’s Cafe drew to a close, Rick put the question to me again.

So what do you think my odds are?

Well, I told him, I think they’re better than the last time I told you you had no chance.


I think they’re better too

I have to break through three times. Even if I break through twice and I lose the third time, I think that’s on me, but I’m not worried about it because if I get to that level,the story itself will be more powerful than what he can do.

I’m bringing back that Bernie narrative, and this is not some enclave of New York or New England. Competing in a red state. Competing in a district that apparently is conservative.

At the doors, I talk to people about their premiums, and how much that sucks, and then they tell me about their deductibles, and how much that sucks, and their co-pays, and then I tell them that I think healthcare is a fundamental human right and that when you get sick or someone that you love gets sick, that no one should get money off that situation, but in this country, not only does that happen but our leaders allow that to happen, and they’ve enabled that industry to profiteer, that exploitation.

And that makes sense to people, and apparently that wasn’t supposed to make sense to people. Working 40 hours a week and not being poor, makes sense to people. Working and being working class and being able to send your kids to college not because you have the money but because your kids did well in school – all that makes sense to people.

I don’t buy any of that jive they spit at us about conservative stuff. Mexicanos, Mexican-Americans, people along the border, are just like anybody else. They work in America like everybody else and this makes sense to them.

You know Reagan said the biggest problem is the government. I don’t think that’s what it is. I think the biggest problem is insiders.

American government is like a piece of clay that can be molded and right now it’s been molded only to benefit the superrich, for a long time, the business class. And it’s always been like that.

The Gilded Age. That narrative has always been there. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was made because that shit was real back then. That story is told because it made sense to them then.

Treviño worries about the future of the Bernie movement, 

Of its future leadership, he said, “I hope if it’s not Bernie it’s someone who was with the movement early on and paid their dues.”

He worries about pretenders who are now drawn to its ideas not because they believe in them but because they poll well.

The people who are just arriving at these issues, like a Gina Jones, look at the way she talks about healthcare. It’s about national security. You need to have a healthy country to have a safe country If you’ve been part of the Medicare for All movement, you don’t talk about healthcare that way. It’s a moral issue. it’s not about national security. So you can just tell thse are pretenders. arriving conveniently at these positiions because they’re polling well.

I do see that with the Beto O’Rourke campaign. I’ll elaborate. The Beto O’Rourke campaign represents to me what the Joseph Kopser and Gina Ortiz Jones campaigns are, which is basically the evolution of the establishment trying to stay relevant, and what they’ve done is they have  appropriated the imagery, the fundraising and the rhetoric of the left, and of the Bernie movement, and, again if I catch anybody on the street and ask, “Who’s the most progressive politician in the state of Texas?” they will say, “Beto O’Rourke,” not knowing that he voted for fast track (trade authority), that he was a super delegate, that he doesn’t support HR 676, health care for all, Medicare for all.

That’s the thing, most people don’t know that because they are living their lives,, they are working every day, , they don’t have time to vet candidates.

I’m very protective of t is movement because it’s very powerful, it has  a lot of energy, and a lot of future relevance that the current establishment doesn’t have, so they want to co-opt it and be progressive on their terms. We’re going to be progressive on our terms and we’re going to evolve on our pace because I want to evolve rapidly.

I want to move away from fossil fuels dramatically. I want to move toward Medicare for all. I want to move to a $15 minimum wage by 2022,  I want these things to be accelerated. Why is that these elites get to decide when a working class person or most people get health care? Why is it on their timetable? Their timetable takes too long.

And this whole kind of incremental change argument that they were really promoting for most of the Obama administration just got torn away, like that, by one Republican administration. That sucks.

And why do we run the same strategy back and act like it’s going to work this time?

Politics has to be able to evolve. But the establishment wants to do it on their terms and they have more money, whereas the grassroots has more people, and I think that will eventually win out, right, eventually.

But I have seen other political movements from the 60s and the 70s fizzle out and you’ve got to be vigilant that doesn’t happen, but I think our generation is wise because we’re learning from those experiences. We’re a young movement but it’s very wise.

Treviño will vote for O’Rourke against Ted Cruz in the fall (though O’Rourke has said he won’t, out of friendship, campaign against Hurd), but he voted for Sema Hernandez, a Sanders supporter, in the primary, (just as he voted for Tom Wakely, a Sanders supporter, for governor). Without much of a campaign, Hernandez won nearly 24 percent of the vote against O’Rourke, carrying a raft of counties including, like Treviño, LaSalle County.

The county seat for Lasalle is Cotulla, where a young Lyndon Johnson taught school to Mexican-American children, and, as he would tell the story later, first learned the meaning of poverty.

“I’ve listened to that many times,” Treviño said. “I’ve made LBJ a big part of my stump. Just like LBJ I got my first lessons in poverty from being a teacher. He’s a teacher that became president. Not that I hope to do that. I just want to become a representative.

Treviño learned in the course of the campaign that Dan Garcia, one of his grandfather’s cousins, was one of LBJ’s students in Cotullah and later visited him at the White House.

“I can help but get emotional when I visit Cotulla and listen to those speeches,” Treviño sad.

Of his campaign, he said:

I’m the kind of guy who will say, “I’ll do it. Why not?

I’m so glad that I did because look at where I’m at. This historical moment was for me. I understood it and I knew I needed to run, and I knew that something like what just happened could happen.

Look at the craziness in the presidential election.

Look at that election, and not just that election but the whole campaign infrastructure of the United States., the whole campaign culture. It was like an Alice in Wonderland type of situation where all the obstacles in front of (Trump) just like crumbled. He just went down a rabbit hole and all these things that were supposed to be there, just really weren’t there.

You just see how a nontraditional candidate like Rick Treviño could break through if things break right. I just had my hunch that it’s going to happen.

And I also looked at a couple of other things. I organized the Bernie movement in San Antonio at least at the grassroots level. I saw what was going on, I saw the excitement – and I saw at the very end, even though we got out asses handed to us, Hillary swept it up, there were still at least 30,000 people who voted for a democratic socialist in South Texas in District 23. That’s a lot of people. That’s not even supposed to come close. People would say nobody would do that

I went in thinking, there are all those people there, I just need to talk to them. I need them to know that in this race. I’m the guy. I was the Bernie delegate  I was the local organizer. I’ve been consistent on these issues

I was part of a very grassroots city council race and there are dark days when sometimes it’s just you and what I promised myself is you just got to go to the very end. I originally said that if I don’t see the funding by December, I would just drop out , but by that time, I dind’t have funding but I had infrastructure, I had support, I had endorsements, so that was enough for me and I was going to rough it out and I just promised myself that I was  going to go to the very end and make it to he very end and just work hard every day.

And the way I think about it is, when you wake up and you’re thinking about it, and when you go to bed you’re thinking about it, and when you talk to people, you talk about he campaign, and everything you do  is toward the campaign, and I’m an energetic person, and I’m a purposeful person, and I’ve been doing this 100 percent since September the 1st, six months of hard-ass work every day, committed totally to this could lead to a lot of votes.

Just make sure you do the work and so the days, Monday through Friday, when nobody was volunteering, or it’s a weekend and there ‘s some big-ass political event they have to attend, because my volunteers are politically active, they connect with me because they  understand politics and what’s going, and I have to respect their advocacy and their identity as political activists as well.

You can’t take that away from them because that’s how they get their energy, and there weren’t a lot of them but when they showed up, they did real good hard political work, and when you’d see them at the door, they know how to pivot on the issue, in their behavior and body language, they’ve been doing it for years, so I had good work when I had it.

But, Treviño said:

Sometimes it was just me. So when I’m out in Culberson County, Texas, by myself wondering what I’m doing in West Texas, trying to meet people …

Look at my bookshelf. There’s this this statue of Don Quixote, and on the wall there is a painting of Don Quixote by Picasso.

When I was first starting in politics in 2012 I was reading that book and there’s a lot to learn from it. 

At the very end of the book, he sounds very wise, talking to Sancho Panza about being warm and being gregarious and, I don’t know, being local, that’s really the message: Talk to people.

And some days it was just me and I was like, “Shit, this is really a Quixote-esque endeavor and I don’t even have a Sancho Panza.” Sometimes, it was just me.

And instead of windmills it was wind turbines, and you’re driving  out to Fort Stockton and just going, maybe if I go here I can catch some lightning.

And I did, man.

How Mary Wilson and her 22-year-old consultant beat the odds in CD-21.

Good Monday Austin:

Democratic political consultant Joe Trippi appears to have been onto something when he said that the Democratic candidate best suited to win in the 21st Congressional District was the one who would appeal to those voters seeking calm amid the political chaos in Washington.

What he didn’t count on, was that that candidate might not be his client, Joseph Kopser, but rather rival Mary Wilson, who finished ahead of Kopser, forcing a runoff on May 22 where, it would appear, the mathematician/minister, who spent $39,000 to Kopser’s more than $600,000 is now, of all things, the front-runner.

Trippi was the chief media strategist for Doug Jones in his narrow triumph over Judge Roy Moore in last year’s Alabama special U.S. Senate election. On Feb. 24, while in Texas tagging along with Kopser’s campaign,  Trippi did a town hall of sorts at the Tamale House East to talk about the lessons of the Jones campaign for Democrats in 2018.

As I wrote in a First Reading at the time:

“There are a lot of people who say, if you just get all the Democrats out,” Trippi said. “There were just not enough Democrats in Alabama to win that election. It doesn’t work that way and there are plenty of districts where it doesn’t work that way.”

“What we discovered its that the common ground message we wanted to deliver was the most powerful message in the race,” Trippi said. “This is what’s going on in my view. Trump is fueling two things. He is absolutely fueling the energy among the Democratic base, minority and young voters in particular. To give you an idea, in 2008 for Barack Obama, African-Americans, who are 24 percent of the population, were 27 percent of the vote. In 2017, for Doug Jones, they were 29, 30 percent of the vote. Young people. Obama in 2008 won under-45’s nationwide by 15 percent. Doug Jones won the under-45 group by 28 points.”

Trippi said that Republican women, particularly in the suburbs, and under-25 college educated voters, “they can’t take the chaos,” under Trump.

“They may even like some the things that he’s doing, but they can’t stand the chaos. They’re exhausted by constantly being on edge, this feeling of chaos and exhaustion they just want it to end. I call it chaos exhaustion,” Trippi said. “They talk in terms of, `I can’t believe I’m saying this but for the first time in my life I’m actually thinking of voting for a Democrat,’ which is a huge opening, particularly for Republican women who are thinking like that, and what we discovered is finding common ground and ending chaos and division does not chill the Democratic base, the intensity went up, the more we talked about it.”

It appears that in race in which, as I wrote in a story on the campaign, Kopser openly feuded with rivals Derrick Crowe and Elliott McFadden, about whether it was wiser to appeal to the center or rally the base, it was Wilson, who stayed above the fray and ran her own race her own way, even when it was widely written off, who finished first.

“One of the special things about Mary is everybody remembers Mary,” said David Logan, her 22-year-old political consultant, on Saturday. “She’s very memorable. That is a key aspect to who she is, as a person, as a candidate,  the candidate touch. It is absolutely the case of the candidate touch, that nice little unique fit.”

From my story:

The candidate touch’

Wilson, 58, who for many years taught math at Austin Community College, is the pastor of the Church of the Savior in Cedar Park. She said she originally got into the race as a “sacrificial lamb.”

But, as she began campaigning she realized that “as the female candidate with a nonpolitical background, I actually have a different voice to bring to it.”

Wilson doesn’t criticize her opponents. At a recent forum in Boerne, she asked her opponents to each say something they liked about each other. At the next event in New Braunfels, she talked about the value of “attentive listening.”

“I decided I’ll stick it out, ride it through and see how it goes,” Wilson said, even though it meant pausing work on her divinity school doctoral project on the meaning of the Resurrection to women who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

So far, she’s barely raised any money, but her novice political consultant, David Logan, said no candidate works harder and no campaign is more handcrafted.

On Thursday, Logan said, “When I got home from handing out 22 of the massive 4-foot by 8-foot field signs and handing out 300 yard signs, I came to her house and there were 350 postcards she had handwritten with addresses on them. That is the type of campaigning I see out of Mary Wilson.”

“The candidate touch is something that’s very important,” he said. “We’ve done analysis and we’ve run some algorithms, and it is entirely possible for a candidate to work hard enough to win a congressional seat. It is entirely mathematically possible for a candidate to talk to enough people to win.”

“It takes a special person to go the whole way especially when the narrative has been against you the whole time, especially when there are entire articles, great pieces that have entire analyses on what it is to be Derrick Crowe vs. Joseph Kopser, and at the very end it will say, `Oh, by the way, Mary Wilson’s also running.’ To get those kind of articles and still be like, “I still have a chance, I can still do this.'” said Logan. “It takes a lot of perseverance to do that. And I think a lot of people responded to that.”

And in a race in which Kopser, an Army Ranger with a naturally aggressive personality, was in serial combat with Crowe and McFadden, who took turns pounding him for being insufficiently progressive, Wilson, a woman with a minister’s healing demeanor, stood out.

“Frankly, a lot of things lined up,” Logan said.

“What we’re starting to find out is that Mary was always the front-runner, once the four candidate were lined up,” Logan said.

I first met Mary and David at that early February candidate forum in Boerne,  at which she posed the question to her fellow candidates, “Given the divisiveness in our country and that natural competitive of an election, please identify one or two traits” you admire about each other.

When the question was posed to each of the candidates about whether it was tactically sounder to try, per Kopser, to appeal beyond the Democratic base, or, per Crowe and McFadden, to rally and rouse that base, Wilson sought a middle ground.

My spouse and I have been jokingly saying with one another about this race, `You be you, you be you.’ And what I have found is if I am just myself, and I don’t try to pretend to be anyone else, what you see is what you get with me, and so people will recognize that authenticity. And I’ve had people tell me that I have never voted in a Democratic primary but I am going to vote for you in this one. Now I am going to take their vote, and I’m going to be really happy to get it, and so I am going to take all those votes that we can get.

I am also emboldened and inspired by going to places like the Kyle-Buda Democratic Club where they had a roomful, standing room only, and this room, I mean would you have had a  room like this, filled like this, four years ago? We have a growing wave of people who want to come vote for Democrats because what we are seeing is scary to us. We don’t like the racism. We don’t like the divisiveness. We don’t like what we are seeing from the Republican Party, and there are Republicans who don’t like it either.


But I agree with Derrick on this. We’ve got to stick with what we know. We’ve got to stick to our guns. And then let people come join us.

So the reason I got into this race, where the first seed was planted, is, a little over a year ago, Lamar Smith said the only place we can get the unvarnished truth is from the president. (laughter.) Exactly. I thought I can’t tolerate that. I don’t know what I’m gong do about that. But I can’t tolerate that.

Wilson said she called the state Democratic Party to see if any Democrat was running against Smith – who subsequently decided not to seek re-election – and told them:

If we need a sacrificial lamb, I am willing to do that because we need to contest every race, every race. And  so I started with the idea that we just had to stand up for truth, to stand up for truth as our first priority.

One of the things that really bothered me in this last election was the number of evangelical Christians who voted for Donald Trump. And what continues to bother me are evangelical ministers that are willing to excuse everything under the sun and say it’s all OK because he’s on our side. He gets a Mulligan for, whatever. I  am not OK with that.

You know what I think it means to be a Christian minister? I think you hold people accountable, especially when they’re on your side. So I want our side to be the ones that tell the truth. I want our side to be the ones that  have higher standards. I want our side to the ones that will call each other out to be better than that side.

And quite frankly, I want us to call out that side too, and say you can do better because I think Donald Trump represents the antithesis of everything I have ever heard you claim  you stood for my entire life.

 I am here because I think truth actually matters. I think it matters in my personal relationships, I think it matters when I stand up and preach. I think it matters when I go out and counsel people and give them pastoral care. I think it matters in DC. I think it matters wherever we are a and I am not OK with anything that’s less than straightforward, anything that’s less than transparent, or anything that’s less than a yes is a yes and no is a no.

So, when I am your representative you will hear from me the truth, whether I like the truth or not I will still tell the truth, and I think our country needs that.

Thank you very much.

Logan got his start in politics as a student at Lake Travis High School, working on phone banks for Obama’s re-election campaign.

Last fall, Logan arrived early for a forum at Scholz Garten on veteran’s issues for the Democratic candidates in a CD-21 race that was still taking shape. He was sitting at a table  outside the meeting room, working on some GIS stuff on his laptop when Wilson arrived and he recognized her.

“My father went to her church a long time ago. I went there once. I didn’t real get it,” Logan said. But, “Mary shows up and I say, “Hey I know you.’ She’s very memorable. And this is the key to Mary. She looks at me and she goes, “David.'”

From there, they began communicating with one another, on Facebook, and then in conversation, with Logan eventually emerging as her one and only political consultant.

She liked the training and volunteering he had done with the Red Cross in Luling during Hurricane Harvey – training he had undergone at the suggestion of Elizabeth Bryant, a first responder who he had been helping on her run for Texas House District 45 before health concerns forced her to leave the race last fall.

Logan had gotten involved with the Red Cross to better understand Bryant. To get to know Wilson better, he started attending her church services.

“If I’m going to spend a lot of time with a candidate, I might as well know where they’re coming from,” Logan said. “For the first month, at every single service, I would just start to cry. People would ask if I was OK. I’d say, `I’m fine. I’m being introduced to new things.”

Wilson also realized that Logan knew things she didn’t, and, that unlike some other potential consultants who had some kind of conflict because of cross-cutting friendships with those involved in the rival campaigns, Logan, at 22,  “didn’t have a 20-year friendship with anybody, so it worked out.”

After Tuesday’s result, Ben Guarino in the Washington Post interviewed Kopser.

When Kopser spoke to The Washington Post on Thursday he described the impending runoff in cordial terms: Kopser and his daughter had been joking, he said, that the last time a big event involved two characters named Mary and Joseph, “it turned out to be pretty good for a lot of people.”

What did you make of Tuesday’s election? What happened that you weren’t expecting?

Kopser: This is exciting to be a first-time candidate returning to public service. [Kopser, a military veteran, held a government position at the Pentagon.] And so what was exciting was to see democracy in action. Nearly a year of my life had gone into planning, preparation, and then the actual day of execution was just a thrill.

By our accounts, on our projections, some 8,000 people showed up to the polls that we had not anticipated — even on the high side.

Evan Smith from the Texas Tribune said it best: There was not a blue wave in Texas. There was a pink wave in Texas. It is reflected in so many races where women finished strong, and in many cases women were the top two finishers.

Now we know there’s an even larger universe of people that are eager to have their voice heard. But we survived. We made it past the primary, and now we can focus on the runoff.

You now have a lot of data after Tuesday’s election. Are you going to use that to hone your approach for the next part of the campaign?

Kopser: Heck, yeah, I’m going to be engineering this sucker.

We haven’t decided on exactly the best methodology, but you better believe it’s going to be data-driven. It’s going to be driven by good practices. It’s going to be engineered in such a way that we will make the most efficient use of our time and our resources. It’s a big district, as you know, and you’ve to target the right people, because unfortunately so few people actually show up at these primary runoff elections.

I don’t always give bumper sticker answers. There have been plenty of forums where I’ve been booed. And at the end of the day, I’m not here to tell people what I think they want to hear. I’m here to tell people what I think they need to hear. The results validate the fact that that’s what people respond to.

Logan said Wilson was not surprised by the turnout.

Mary has a mathematics degree, and she told me we had to get to 12,000 votes to get into the runoff. She knows her stuff very well. Mary knew it was going to be a higher turnout and she knew it for sure after Virginia. We saw dramatic turnout numbers, and this is the awesome part, they were in races that are not like easy Democratic seats, but there were huge turnout changes  in races that were Republican districts but always Democrats running, “close-enough” seats, I guess you would call it.

Logan said he thinks that Kopser’s explanation to the Post about being surprised by the turnout was “looking for an out” in order to explain the surprising result to disgruntled donors.

“They want to know why for every $100 they’ve given him, we spent $4,  and that’s, by the way, what we’re going to continue to do.”

The numbers are stunning.

Here’s Kopser’s report:


And here’s Wilson’s.


“The whole campaign cost $40,000 of which $9,000 went to signs,” said Logan.

“We talked to every single female voter in the Hill Country (who regularly votes in Democratic primaries), and Mary got to talk to most of them individually, as people.” said Logan. “The list I gave to her was some 3,000 Democratic voters in the Hill Country.”

That was exclusive of Hays and Comal counties. For Travis, Comal and some of Hays, especially Kyle/Buda, the campaign sent out 10,000 hand-noted postcards – hand-addressed by Wilson, who would also sometimes add a personal note.

“What does that leave – the biggest gap in the entire campaign? San Antonio – and that’s where the signs came in,” Logan said.

We put 200 4-by-4’s and 25 4-by-8’s throughout parts of San Antonio that were in the district, and some parts that weren’t in the district to get the arteries into San Antonio or around it. And we had those up for 60 days, because I think legally 90 days is the max.

And I started getting text messages about 30 days in from people saying we’re seeing them everywhere. And that was a great feeling. And we were that only campaign that had any signs in San Antonio. (All four Democratic candidates live in Austin). And we were the only Democrat in CD 21 that had any big signs, the whole race.


“Signs don’t vote. That’s true. But it is name recognition,” Logan said. And, unlike mailers, which are instantly disposable, you can’t thrown a sign away. It gave Wilson what she needed – name recognition.

DIANA ROSS and THE SUPREMES the ballad of Davy Crockett (MARY WILSON on LEAD!)

And, Logan said, with its mirrored M and W, “Mary’s design is really good.”

When I saw it, I said I’ve got to get this out as much as I can. We couldn’t afford to play social media really well. We couldn’t afford to put $100,000 into Zynga ads. But we could put these out. So we printed them out and put them out.

It’s a very good design, isn’t it?

Let’s pause here to meet, as I did yesterday, at Wilson’s Sunday church service, Hannah Gaskamp, the graphic design student at Texas State University in San Marcos, who wanting to help her pastor’s campaign, designed the logo.

Like Logan, Gaskamp is 22.

Gaskamp grew up, and her parents still live, across the street from Wilson’s hurch. Her family belongs to a very conservative Christian church, but Gaslamp is gay, and, at some point, she Googled gay friendly churches in the area, found out that the one across the street fit the bill and joined.

“It’s affirming and very open,” she said. “We’re not evangelical or judgmental.”

At first, Wilson suggested a Wonder Woman theme for the log, but it ended up too derivative.

Gakamp came up with her own take, with the mirrored M and W, and the distinctive map of the gerrymandered 21st Congressional District.

Of the signs, Logan said, “I am confident that is why we ran second in San Antonio and did better than anyone would have expected us to. They helped a lot with name recognition.”

I asked Logan where he learned the art of the campaign sign, and he credited Travis County Precinct 3 Constable Stay Suits.

“He texted me the other night and christened me, `The Sign Junkie of Austin,'” said Logan, who has the bruised hands to show for it



Logan also put up 500 polling day signs for Mary Wilson (and 2,500 for a few other clients), from Election Day eve though 6:30 p.m. Election Day. Why so late on Election Day, when polls closed at 7?

“There were lines,” Logan said.

So, let’s review.

Here is how the Kopser campaign spent its  money – mostly on DC and NY consultants and staff.






Meanwhile, here was the sum total of Mary Wilson’s spending on campaign consultants.


“The way to take money out of politics is to make money irrelevant in politics,” said Logan.

More Logan:

Mary had the message. Mary’s the person that CD 21 wants. Mary has a message for this district that I know she can carry on. We proved that the message of caring is what took the day.

One thing that shocks me is if you go back and do a very serious analysis of Alabama, Doug Jones stayed above the fray on everything. Whenever someone commented on his opponent’s actions or possible criminal history, Doug Jones stayed above it. He never flung mud. He just stayed above the fray and he won.


He ran as a Democrat and he won.


I think this was a win for local campaigns, and local consultants and people who really know the area. I don’t think this was me or Mary doing anything really special. I think we were local and that carried a voice much more than money could buy.


At Scholz Garten Saturday.

In an interview Saturday after moving into her new headquarters in South Austin – it’s Crowe’s old office which he gave to her with his post-primary endorsement, Wilson said:

We knew we didn’t have a lot of money so we had to be very focused and very strategic in what we did and I think it paid off.

I think it’s clear I got some of the female voter preference that is clearly a thing this year in Texas in this particular election. But I would also make the case and I would also argue that that would haven’t been enough to get me to the runoff by itself. It might have given me enough to move into first place.

I’m pleased to be sitting here in the position that I’m in.

I spent a lot of time the last couple of months, waking up eery day with the thought – what’s the best way to say it – that there was more to do and there were more votes that I needed to get, that I wanted to have the attitude that I didn’t presume that I was doing as well as people were telling me by word of mouth.

I heard a lot from Travis County, into San Antonio, Kerrville, a lot of different places, a lot of people telling me, “Mary, you’ve got a lot of support,” but I didn’t have any data to back that up, and so I couldn’t let myself believe that what I was hearing was anything but anecdotal, so I had to get up and work hard again to get more votes.

At about noon on Election Day, “I said to my spouse, `I’m done.’ I’m either going to win or not, let’s go the movie’ We went to see Black Panther at the Violet Crown. She had a big bowl of popcorn with a little parmesan on top.

On election night, on her way to their campaign’s gathering at El Arroyo, across the street from where she lives, Wilson got a call from a reporter with the early vote results showing her running a strong second to Kopser.

By night’s end, she had claimed first and had to surrender the title of underdog.


It is a good time and appropriate time to say we won the night and I can win May 22nd and I  can win in November. I have shown with the least amount of money, even 20 to 1, I can win. We’ll always have to be strategic, we’ll always have to very focused.. We’ll always have to be very efficient.”

Wilson figures they have raised about $10,000 since the primary.

Wilson said she has also heard, since the primary, from the Democratic Congressional Committee, which had tilted toward Kopser.

“I think they very politely wanted to know, `Who the hell are you?’ I don’t know how that is going to play out.”

How much does that matter to her?

“Not that much, honestly,” Wilson said.

But, she said:

It is frustrating  to have, like the DCCC  seemingly pick a candidate  prior to the actual campaigning and events and knowing who else might be a qualified candidate. If they pick somebody in advance it means they don’t know who is organically coming out of the  district.

And I would say, across the board, and not just in Texas, there is a certain frustration with the DCCC taking on that kind of role. I think what most of us would really prefer is they encourage and support what’s going on in their districts, working with the people who grow out of campaigning within the districts, who appear to be good representative just based on how they connect within the district.

I understand their role is to win. and they are doing what they think they need to do to win.  I guess what we’re seeing across the country is that they do not have not the best strategy of how to win.

`So he changed his name to Beto and hid it with a grin.’ On the deeper purposes of the Cruz jingle.


Good morning Austin:

The Ted Cruz-Beto O’Rourke U.S. Senate race should be a good one.

The general election began just after the polls closed Tuesday, with Cruz firing the opening shot.

Here are the full lyrics of the song, sung to the tune of the Alabama’s “If you’re gonna play in Texas.”

If you’re gonna run in Texas, you can’t be a liberal man

‘Cause liberal thought is not the spirit of a Lone Star man

You gotta be tough as Texas and honest about your plans

If you’re gonna run in Texas, can’t be a liberal man

I remember reading stories, Liberal Robert wanted to fit in

So he changed his name to Beto and hid it with a grin

Beto wants those open borders and wants to take our guns

Not a chance on Earth he’ll get a vote from millions of Texans

If you’re gonna run in Texas, you can’t be a liberal man

That’s it.

At first it seemed an odd line of attack — going after O’Rourke, given name Robert, for going by the nickname Beto. After all, Chris Cuomo noted on CNN, Ted Cruz’s given name is Rafael Edward Cruz.


Cuomo: You’re name is Rafael. You go by Ted. Your middle name is Edward. That’s an Anglicized version of it. He went the other way and has a more ethnic version of his name. Why go after it? You’re both doing the same thing.

Cruz: Well, you’re absolutely right, my name is Rafael Edward Cruz. I am the son of Rafael Cruz, an immigrant from Cuba who came to Texas with nothing, had a hundred dollars in his underwear, couldn’t speak English, washed dishes making 50 cents an hour, and my dad’s journey of coming to Texas seeking freedom, that’s the American story, that’s who we are.

You know in terms of the jingle, some of it is just to have a sense of humor.

We had some fun with it.


When O’Rourke came on CNN a little while later, CNN reported, “he declined to respond to Cruz’s name-calling.”

Appearing on “New Day” after Cruz, O’Rourke said, “I just don’t think that’s what folks in Texas want us to focus on.”
“We can get into name-calling and talk about why the other person is such an awful guy, or we can focus on the big things we want to do for the future of our country, for the generations that will succeed us,” he said, later adding, “We can focus on the small, mean, petty stuff, or we can be big, bold, courageous, and confident.”

When I talked to O’Rourke later in the day, he said much the same, taking it as a sign that Cruz must be worried to be lighting into him so quickly, and, he said, on such unsubstantial grounds.

I got to tell you I was also encouraged by that. I mean, I think if your opening salvo is to make fun of my first name then, you know, I’ll take that. It’s not even something that I even have to respond to. Folks across Texas are responding to that. They are sick of the small stuff and they want us to be big and I’m going to continue to follow the lead of people who ask us do that.

I don’t know that people want us trading jabs about our nicknames. 

Maybe, but I think that little ditty contains within it everything you will need to know about the Cruz campaign against O’Rourke. This is not based on anything anyone has told me. It is simply my intuition.

Ted Cruz means to do nothing less than crush Beto O’Rourke’s candidacy and do so by destroying his good name, or at least, his first name, by turning BETO into a four-letter word, an epithet to be spit out in anger or, better yet, derision, the telling diminutive of a liberal beguiler, imposter and poseur, who is either an opportunist trying to fool Hispanic voters into thinking he is, at least in part, one of them, or, some kind of deluded, self-hating Anglo (albeit Irish-American Anglo), whose sentimental, fuzzy-headed, liberal notions of bi-nationalism and multiculturalism have robbed him of the most basic understanding that what makes Texas Texas is a strong border and unfettered access to guns.

The jingle, and Cruz’s follow-up comments, send the message to his voters that Cruz — the Hispanic son of an immigrant — is, by taking the name “Ted,” assimilating the way it’s supposed to be done, while O’Rourke, by calling himself Beto, is going weirdly the other way, undermining what made America great.

Little Beto, in the photo at the top of First Reading, may look innocent, but, Cruz’s jingle tells us, don’t believe it.

I remember reading stories, Liberal Robert wanted to fit in

So he changed his name to Beto and hid it with a grin

When I talked to O’Rourke on Wednesday, I went through the story once again, just to be sure.

First Reading: Just so I’ve got it straight, Beto’s been your name since you were small…

Beto O’Rourke: Born. There’s a ton of photographic evidence. On my Instagram, I’ve got a picture of me in a kindergarten or a pre-kindergarten class with my Beto sweater on.

I have a funny, quick story.

I was making my first confession, in second or third grade, and I was at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and I was receiving it from the bishop, it may have been Bishop Ochoa at the time, of El Paso, who I had never met, and after I confessed my sins, he called me by my name. He said, “Well, Beto, I want you to say this many Hail Marys and this any Our Fathers,” and I left just blown away, Wow this stuff really works. He knew my name. I never met him. And I’m telling my mom this story on the ride home and she’s like, “Beto, your name is stitched on your shirt, that’s how he knew your name.”

Any second-grade, third-grade, fourth-grade, pre-K classmate of mine will tell you that no one ever knew me as Robert and the only time it ever came up was the first day of class, the teacher reads the role and goes, “Is there a Robert O’Rourke here, and everybody laughs because, everybody calls me Beto.”

My grandfather, Robert V. Williams, who passed away when I was 4 years old, but when I was little, my mom tells me, that since there were two Roberts around, so such a little guy, look, we weren’t going to also call you Robert, because that was confusing, and in El Paso, if you’re not Robert, you’re Beto, if you’re not Albert, you’re Beto, if you’re not Umberto, you’re Beto. Beto is as common in El Paso as Bob might be in Dallas. There’s Beto’s Tacos. Wood Floors by Beto. Beto, your mailman. Beto, your congressman.

I asked if the name was originally bestowed on him by a babysitter or nanny.

O’Rourke: No, it was my folks. 

So who knows, maybe my dad 45 years ago had some secret plan, but that’s where it came from.

So, OK, it seems that the O’Rourke’s weren’t contemplating the use of Beto as the perfect culturally appropriative nickname for a Texas candidate when they started calling him Beto.

Why would Cruz think that?

Well, let’s drop by the Cruz household in mid-adolescence to see what was happening there on the name front.

From Cruz’s book, A Time for Truth.

Midway through junior high school, I decided that I’d had enough of being the unpopular nerd. I remember sitting up one night asking a friend why I wasn’t one of the popular kids. I ended up staying up most of the night thinking about it. “Okay, well, what is it that the popular kids do? I will consciously emulate that.”

First off, I decided that my existing policy of refusing to play sports simply because I wasn’t good at them was not a wise plan if I wanted to be accepted by kids at school. I then decided to join the soccer team, the football team, and the basketball team. I was terrible at all three, but I kept at it. Around that time I got my braces off, I went to a dermatologist and my acne cleared some. I got contacts instead of glasses. I also shot up about six inches.

I started trying to behave differently. I tried to be less cocky. When I received a test exam back, even though I’d probably done well, I would simply put it away. I wouldn’t look at it. It wasn’t rocket science, but it was interesting to see what these sorts of small conscious changes could produce.

Another thing that changed was my name. In Spanish, the diminutive is formed by adding -ito; thus, the diminutive of my full name, Rafael, Was Rafelito, which in turn was shortened to Felito. Until I was thirteen, I was “Felito Cruz.” The problem with that name was that that it seemed to rhyme with every major corn chip on the market. Fritos, Cheetos, Doritos, and Tostitos — a fact that other young children were quite happy to point out.

Well, those were benighted times, before America became so politically correct.

Perhaps if Cruz had grown up in more Cuban-centric environment in Miami, for example, it might have all been different.



Anyway, back to Cruz’s coming-of-age story.

I was tired of being teased. One day I had a conversation with my mother about it and she said, “You know you could change your name.”

“There’s a number of other possibilities,” she said. “And she proceeded to list them:





Edward, Ed. Eddie.

“Or you could go by Ted.” I found that a shocking concept. It had never occurred to me that I had any input on my name.”

“Ted” immediately felt like me. But my father was furious with the decision. He viewed it as a rejection of him and his heritage, which was not my intention.

Imagine, someone thinking about the political implications of their name at the tender age.

(Note the trademark Cruz opening joke. Aspirations? Is that like sweat on my butt?”)

“What do you mean Ted is a nickname for Edward? he snapped at my mother. “Who’s ever heard of that?”

My mother’s response was unfortunate. “Well, there’s Ted Kennedy.”

My father was apoplectic.

He had no love for liberals. In fact, he believed the American far left was trying to turn this country in a dangerously socialist direction, much like the reviled Castro regime. One of the biggest fights he had with my mother was in 1976, when she had voted for Jimmy Carter. (She quickly came to regret that decision when his haplessness became manifest.)

To equate me with Teddy Kennedy was too much. For about two years, he refused to utter my new name.


Things seemed a little more laid back in the O’Rourke household.

“Melissa O’Rourke, a former Republican who now considers herself an independent ..

O’Rourke has always been Beto on the ballot.

O’RourkeYou can just designate yourself.  Everybody has always known me as Beto O’Rourke.

The first time I was ever on a ballot was in 2005 running for the El Paso City Council, District 8. Beto O’Rourke.

I checked with Sam Taylor at the Texas Secretary of State’s Office and he sent me the pertinent section of the state Election Code with a note.

Per 52.031(b)(2) of the Texas Election Code, both names are fine to appear as they are on the ballot, since ‘Beto’ is a contraction of “Robert” and ‘Ted’ is a familiar form of “Edward”:

Sec. 52.031.  FORM OF NAME ON BALLOT.  (a)  A candidate’s name shall be printed on the ballot with the given name or initials first, followed by a nickname, if any, followed by the surname, in accordance with this section.

(b)  In combination with the surname, a candidate may use one or more of the following:

(1)  a given name;

(2)  a contraction or familiar form of a given name by which the candidate is known;  or

(3)  an initial of a given name.

(c)  A nickname of one unhyphenated word of not more than 10 letters by which the candidate has been commonly known for at least three years preceding the election may be used in combination with a candidate’s name.  A nickname that constitutes a slogan or otherwise indicates a political, economic, social, or religious view or affiliation may not be used.  A nickname may not be used unless the candidate executes and files with the application for a place on the ballot an affidavit indicating that the nickname complies with this subsection.

(d)  A suffix such as “Sr.,” “Jr.,” or “2nd” may be used in combination with a candidate’s name.

(e)  A married woman or widow may use in combination with her surname, if the same as her husband’s surname, the given name or initials of her husband with the prefix “Mrs.”

As for the jingle, I asked Cruz campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier, “Who gets credit as the lyricist and the performers on `If you’re gonna run in Texas?’ Also, are Alabama/the songwriters of, `If you’re gonna play in Texas,’ supporters of Sen. Cruz and good with its redeployment?”

Frazier declined comment.

Nashville songwriter Dan Mitchell, the surviving half of the songwriting team of the original, did not respond to an email yesterday.

As for the new lyrics, Stephen Colbert didn’t at all like that they rhymed “man” with “man.”









A farewell to Hope: My email correspondence with Hope Hicks.

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks listens in as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with state and local officials on school safety inside the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 22, 2018. Hicks, one of President Donald Trump’s longest-serving advisers, said on Feb. 28, that she was resigning. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

Good day Austin:

Did I suck you in with that headline? I hope so, because once I have your click, you can’t ever have it back.

But, in the interests of transparency, my email exchanges with Hicks mostly consisted of me confirming that I was on the press list for a Trump campaign rally, or asking for then-Mr. Trump’s reaction to something Ted Cruz was up to.

That said, I was very appreciative and a bit awestruck at her competence, and thankful that there was someone in the ultra-skeletal Trump campaign that one could have an email exchange with.

For example, an a Feb. 23, 2016, attempt to get in touch with his Texas campaign yielded this response:

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin),

A customer support staff member has replied to your support request, #237794 with the following response:

Mr. Tilove,

Thank you for reaching out to us. Please direct any media inquiries to Hope Hicks, who you can reach at

Thank you.

We hope this response has sufficiently answered your questions. If not, please do not send another email. Instead, reply to this email or login to your account for a complete archive of all your support requests and responses.

By that time I had, since the fall of 2015, been emailing Hicks, who, as near as I could tell, was one of three people running the Trump campaign.

They were:

1- Donald Trump.

2 – Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski.

3 – Hope Hicks.

FILE– Hope Hicks, then a spokeswoman for President-elect Donald Trump, in the lobby of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, Dec. 12, 2016. (Sam Hodgson/The New York Times)

Somehow, I had figured that as the campaign grew, that circle would grow. But, not so much.

And why should it. Hicks’ operation was model of competence.

She would send out a schedule of Trump rallies – and really the campaign was just a series of rallies and the coverage that attended them.

A reporter could click on the rallies you wanted to attend. You would receive a confirmation email. You would show up at the rally. Your name would be on the list. And you’d be there for Trump pointing to the bad people in the back from the Fake News media.

If, for some reason, you didn’t get your confirmation email, you could check with Hicks and she would fix it.

It sounds simple, and it was, but I’d never run into a campaign that operated so flawlessly.

Well, as you know, Hicks joined President Trump in the White House, ended up as his communications director and then, poof, as of yesterday she announced she was leaving

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 27: White House Communications Director and presidential advisor Hope Hicks (2nd L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center February 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

I knew something bad was afoot when I saw this photo of her with Robert Trout, the gentleman by her side.

Trout is a great guy and a wonderful attorney, just the right person to have by your side if, for example, the FBI finds $90,000 in marked bills in your freezer – as was the case with former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson of New Orleans – or if, as in the case of Hicks, you may have told some “white lies” on behalf of President Trump.

Along with my colleague, Bruce Alpert, in 2009 I covered the eight-week corruption  trial of Jefferson in Alexandria, Va., that led to a 13-year prison sentence.

On Dec. 1, Bruce and I went back to the courtroom to see U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III re-sentence Jefferson, with Trout once again at his side, to time served.

I was saddened by Hicks’ departure, and annoyed by some of the coverage, especially  Lawrence O’Donnell’s ultra-snide report  on his MSNBC show.

The white liar is out.

She has now made Sean Spicer look like a master by comparison.

Yeah, right.


She now takes her place in history as both the youngest and the worst communications director in history.

Really? I heard that Andrew Johnson’s press shop really sucked.

And, as I recall, Hicks never became the object of a Sean Spicer/Sarah Huckabee Sanders mockable character on SNL.

She’s 29-years-old and showed the colossally bad judgment and utter lack of professionalism to become romantically involved with White House aide, Rob Porter who two previous wives accused of domestic violence … She fought to save her boyfriend’s job … No White House communications director has ever had a worse episode on the job than that.


Well, OK. Nobody’s perfect.

(During the campaign) She actually got caught by reporters on the streets of Manhattan having a lover’s quarrel with the married man (Lewandowski) she was having an affair with.

Well, yeah, campaigns are tough on marriages.

Then, O’Donnell said Hicks lasted as long as she did because the White House press corps “fell for her.”


Hope Hicks cast a special spell on White House reporters.


You will not see a moment like this with Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Ok, enough with sourpuss O’Donnell.

Far better to read Olivia Nuzzi.

And, for the record, I have never kissed Hope Hicks. I have never hugged Hope Hicks. I have never even met Hope Hicks or spoken to her on the phone.

Our relationship has entirely been by email, and for most of our relationship I had never seen a photo of her or had any idea of what she looked like.

FILE– White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, left, and Dina Powell, a deputy national security advisor, step off Air Force One upon arrival to Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, N.J., Sept. 15, 2017.

However, we did once share holiday greetings.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)

Fri 1/1/2016 12:37 PM

Hi. Happy New Year.
Just wanted to make sure I’m on your press list.
Heading up to Iowa tomorrow and will be there much of the month so want to make sure I know about any appearances there, and who is handling communications for the campaign in Iowa.
Thanks very much.
Jonathan Tilove

On Jan 1, 2016, at 12:38 PM, Hope Hicks <> wrote:

You will be added if you are not already.

Sent from my iPhone

FILE– Hope Hicks, then a spokeswoman for President-elect Donald Trump’s transition office, arrives at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, Jan. 2, 2017.
Ten days later there was this email, on which I coped Katrina Pierson, but that’s a whole other story.
Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)

Mon 1/11/2016 8:09 PM
To:Hope Hicks <>;;
Hope,  Katrina:

I interviewed William Johnson, the gentleman behind the white nationalist robocalls in Iowa supporting Mr. Trump.

Just checking if you had any comment on the calls.

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

I don’t think I got a response to that one.

A couple of weeks later, there was this inquiry.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Mon 1/25/2016 12:53 PM
To:Hope Hicks <>;

I called Sam Clovis to talk to him about Mr. Trump’s conservative credentials and he said I should clear it first with you. Is it OK to talk with Sam?

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

I can’t find her answer, but I remember that she promptly responded in the affirmative and the next day I wrote a First Reading that included an interview with Clovis, who in August 2015 had gone from being the chairman of Rick Perry’s campaign in Iowa to the national co-chair of Trump’s presidential campaign.


As I wrote then:

Clovis is a big man with a big, infectious laugh, and it is plain that he has no regrets about signing on with Trump.

Of Trump, Clovis said, “He has reached deep within the soul of the American people.”

Of those who claim that Trump will under-perform in the caucuses because his fans, many of whom have never participated before, are unlikely to turn out, Clovis says:

They’re going to stand in line in subzero – not subfreezing but in subzero temperatures — for five hours to get into a gymnasium to wait two more hours to hear people talk for another hour and a half, you’re going to tell me they are not going to come out to caucus? I think we are going to have such a huge night it will be historic.

I’ve been watching politics since I was 7 years old, and I’ve never seen anything like this. This is not your father’s campaign, and I couldn’t be happier, and I couldn’t be prouder. We’re changing politics in America, and I think that’s something we’ve needed for a long time.

After Perry’s bid fizzled, Clovis said, “I had seen the last straw with a classic politician. I just felt like Mr. Trump was different. I felt that if we went with another traditional politician, we weren’t going to see anything change, and I honestly don’t think we will, if anyone other than Donald Trump wins.”

Clovis dismisses the idea that Trump should be more specific. He said Cruz put out a 17-page tax plan and he hasn’t found anyone who knows what’s in it. He says a lot of the other candidate’s issue foreign policy threats that are premature and ill-advised.

“We’re going to defend the national interest,” he said, but with a “more deliberative approach.”

Of Cruz’s criticism that Trump’s readiness to make deals means he will forsake conservative principles as president, Clovis said, “God love him, Sen. Cruz is a good guy, but’”with how his Senate colleagues perceive him, I think it would be difficult for him to get anything done. I think Mr. Trump is a very tough negotiator.”

Trump’s deal-making will be about giving in but about getting things done.

(Trump struck this theme relentlessly on Morning Joe this morning. Of Cruz, “I don’t think anybody likes him … he’s a whack job … Ted’s a nasty guy … he won’t get anything done … he’s a more strident loner than Obama.” Trump even boasted of his good relationship with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, not a usual Republican talking point.)

I asked Clovis if there are a lot of people who don’t talk to him any more since he went with Trump.

Some, he said, but there are others who talk to him now who didn’t used to.

“It’s zero sum,” said Clovis, an economics professor at Morningside College.

But Clovis said, “I don’t have to keep score. Here’s the thing. I’m too old to care anymore. Either they get me or they don’t get me.”

Well, just as for Hicks, things for Clovis didn’t end well.

From the New York Times Eileen Sullivan on Nov. 2: Trump Nominee Sam Clovis Withdraws From Consideration for Agriculture Department Post

A former Trump campaign aide dropped out of the running on Thursday for a senior position at the Department of Agriculture three days after his name was tied to a former campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. over his contacts with Russia.

The campaign aide, Sam Clovis, told President Trump that he decided to withdraw from consideration to be the chief scientist at the Department of Agriculture, the White House said.

“The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position,” Mr. Clovis wrote in a letter on Wednesday to Mr. Trump. Mr. Clovis’s qualifications to be the chief scientist at the department have been questioned, as he is not a scientist himself. “The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day.”

Mr. Clovis’s request to drop out of consideration is the latest blow to the Trump administration that for months has been dogged by the special counsel investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mr. Clovis, an early campaign adviser, has met with the special counsel’s team.

On Monday, it was disclosed that Mr. Clovis discussed the Trump campaign’s priorities for relations with Russia with the foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty last month to lying to the F.B.I. about his communications with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to interviews and court papers.

Mr. Clovis was among the Trump campaign officials who knew that Mr. Papadopoulos was developing contacts in Moscow and trying to to arrange a meeting for Mr. Trump in Russia.

“Great work,” Mr. Clovis wrote in a March 2016 email to Mr. Papadopoulos. Mr. Clovis, an economics professor, Tea Party activist and Air Force veteran, helped supervise the foreign policy team.

My best exchange with Hicks came in response to this cover story in the National Enquirer.


Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)

Fri 3/25/2016 1:07 PM

Sent Items


Hope –

Hi. Sen. Cruz blames the Enquirer story on Mr. Trump and “his henchmen.”

Is there any truth to that?

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

Thirty-five minutes I had my answer.

From: Hope Hicks <>
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2016 1:42 PM
To: Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Subject: Re: Enquirer story

Donald J. Trump Responds to Cruz Accusations on National Enquirer Story

“I have no idea whether or not the cover story about Ted Cruz in this week’s issue of the National Enquirer is true or not, but I had absolutely nothing to do with it, did not know about it, and have not, as yet, read it.  I have nothing to do with the National Enquirer and unlike Lyin’ Ted Cruz I do not surround myself with political hacks and henchman and then pretend total innocence. Ted Cruz’s problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz. I look forward to spending the week in Wisconsin, winning the Republican nomination and ultimately the Presidency in order to Make America Great Again. “

– Donald J. Trump

And, at  2:22 pm. I posted my story:

The nasty Republican campaign for president took an even more bitter personal turn Friday with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz blasting a National Enquirer story insinuating that he had a series of extramarital affairs as “garbage,” and blaming “Sleazy Donald,” as he dubbed Donald Trump, for planting it.

“Let me be clear: This National Enquirer story is garbage. It is complete and utter lies,” Cruz said while campaigning in Wisconsin, which votes April 5 and where polls indicate he is locked in a tight race with Trump.

“It is a tabloid smear, and it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen,” Cruz said.

Trump denied any involvement, issuing a statement with a trademark dose of mock empathy.

Ted Cruz’s problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz,” Trump said.

At a news conference, Cruz said the Enquirer story was choreographed to cap a couple of days of Trump tweets targeting Cruz’s wife, Heidi. Those tweets were in retaliation for a Facebook ad by an anti-Trump super PAC unaffiliated with the Cruz campaign featuring a risque British GQ cover photo of Trump’s wife, Melania, from her days as a model.

Trump tweeted, “Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!” and, the next day, retweeted a meme with an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz next to a flattering photo of his wife.

“Donald, you’re a sniveling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone,” Cruz said Thursday in Wisconsin.

The Enquirer that hit newsstands Friday included lurid headlines about Cruz’s alleged five affairs, but the story was built entirely on rumors.

“Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is the target of a vicious `dirty tricks’ campaign!” the story begins. “Political operatives are compiling an explosive `dirt file’ on the finger-wagging, conservative senator from Texas, the National Enquirer has learned.”

The story had been promoted in advance, but, after a day bouncing around the Twitter-sphere without gaining mainstream traction, Cruz brought up the story with reporters Friday.

“One question Americans are asking all over this country is, `How low will Donald go, is there not a level to which he is unwilling to stoop?’” Cruz asked. “To date we have not seen it.”Cruz said that David Pecker, CEO of American Media Inc., the owner of Star Magazine and the National Enquirer, backs Trump’s presidential bid, and, “it is a story that quoted one source on the record: Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s chief political adviser.

“And what is striking is Donald’s henchman, Roger Stone, had for months been foreshadowing that this attack was coming,” Cruz said.

“One man’s dirty trick is another man’s quest for the truth,” Stone told the American-Statesman. Stone long has been close to Trump, but he left the campaign in August and has no formal role, though he and Trump still talk and, in a variety of ways, he looks out for Trump’s interests.

In a March 14 interview with Austin-based broadcaster Alex Jones, Stone talked about a coming Cruz sex scandal.

Stone is also the author of recent books arguing that Lyndon B. Johnson had John F. Kennedy killed, that the Bushes are a “crime family,” and that Bill Clinton was a sexual abuser and Hillary Clinton his enabler, that last book co-written with Austin’s Robert Morrow, the profane conspiracy theorist whose recent surprise election as Travis County Republican Party chairman drew national attention.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, speaks his campaign communications manager Hope Hicks, left, as he arrives for service at First Presbyterian Church in Muscatine, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016.

I asked Hicks other questions, most of which she didn’t reply to.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Tue 3/29/2016 12:44 PM
To:Hope Hicks <>;

I am writing something about the attempt by Cruz to fill Trump delegate slots with folks loyal to them and secure spots on the Rules/Credentials/Platform committees.

Who would be best for me to talk with about efforts to secure those delegate slots for Mr. Trump – Barry Bennett, Ed Brookover, Paul Manafort?

Thanks very much,


Don’t think I got a reply to that, but I ended up talking to Barry Bennett for my story.

FILE — Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, during a news conference in Tokyo, Nov. 6, 2017.

I don’t think she replied to this one either.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Wed 4/27/2016 3:16 PM
 To:Hope Hicks <>;
Hope –

Any comment on Cruz’s choice of Carly Fiorina?



Don’t think I got a reply on that.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Thu 5/26/2016 11:27 AM

Or this one:

To:Hope Hicks <>;;
Hope, Katrina:

I am writing something looking forward to the convention and the role that Sen. Cruz and his delegates may play.

It appears that Cruz is continuing to accumulate delegates, as at Washington State’s convention last week, even though, as per the Washington primary results Tuesday, those delegates are bound to vote for Mr. Trump. Is that continuing effort a source of concern?

Do you expect Sen. Cruz’s name to be placed in nomination at the convention and his votes counted on the first ballot?

Do you expect Sen. Cruz to speak at the convention?

Do you expect Sen. Cruz to endorse Mr. Trump?

Thanks very much,
Jonathan Tilove
Austin American-Statesman

Or this one to Hicks and Josh Jones, the Trump campaign’s man in Texas.

George P. Bush as Texas Victory chairman

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Thu 6/9/2016 11:08 AM;;
Hope Hicks <>;
Hope, Josh:

Hi. I’m writing a story about Texas Republican State Party Chair Tom Mechler naming Land Commissioner George P. Bush to be 2016 Victory Chairman, which means he and his top aide will be leading the fundraising and directing the party’s statewide campaign activities for the general election. Tom Pauken, who is a Trump delegate from Texas and former party chairman, thought it was an odd choice because he would be relying on Bush networks that might not give it their all for Mr. Trump, and that he thought Mechler should  have consulted with the Trump campaign and perhaps made a better choice.

I didn’t know whether the campaign shared this concern.

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

There were as flurry of emailed questions when Trump came to Austin to campaign in August 2016, including a request for a one-on-one interview, but I don’t recall interviewing Trump, so I think that came to naught.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin
Mon 8/22/2016 11:46 AM
 To:Hope Hicks <>;
Hope –


The message I received from Ashley said to check with you about Mr. Trump’s availability. So yes, if he is available at any point during his Texas visit for an interview, please let me know.

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

It appears that my last missive to Hicks was about Alex Jones.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Wed 10/19/2016 8:39 AM
 To:Hope Hicks <>;

Hi. I’m writing about Austin’s Alex Jones and the influence he has had on Mr. Trump in the campaign, an influence that  the Clinton campaign has assailed.

Any comment?

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

So that’s it, except to say so long, Hope. Good luck. And thanks.