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Elections 2020

Pete Buttigieg Would Not Pardon President Donald Trump

At The Texas Tribune Festival, the Democratic presidential hopeful said he supports impeachment and promises not to pardon Trump if that issue were to reach him in the Oval Office.

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South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Democratic presidential candidate, speaks with MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle at the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival. Photo credit: Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg expressed support for the impeachment of President Donald Trump and said he would not pardon Trump if confronted with that choice in the White House.

MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle wasted no time getting straight to the impeachment question in her one-on-one interview Friday afternoon with Buttigieg at The Texas Tribune Festival.

“Impeach or not to impeach?” she asked him for her first question. After raucous applause erupted and then quickly died down inside the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Buttigieg said simply, “Yes.”

“We’ve reached a point where the rule of law and our constitutional system requires holding this president accountable for what he’s done,” said Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. “This is not just about this moment or about this president. This is about the integrity of the system.”

Later — in her last question — Ruhle asked Buttigieg if, as president, he would pardon Trump in the event that his predecessor had been convicted of crimes. Buttigieg said he would not.

“It’s not about him. It’s about the presidency,” Buttigieg said. “We have learned the hard way what happens when we’re deprived of a presidency, not just a president who agrees with me on policy but a president that your kids can look up to. And we need to demonstrate that that will never be allowed to happen again by showing that there are consequences.”

Relaxed and jovial throughout the interview, Buttigieg, the youngest of the 2020 hopefuls, sought to distinguish himself from the crowd of 19 Democrats still in the hunt. He portrayed himself as a pragmatic liberal, saying he could achieve “progressive outcomes” without pitting people against one another and losing big swaths of the electorate. He noted his support for Medicare “for all who want it,” allowing people to join the federal health care program but not requiring it under a single-payer framework as U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have endorsed. He also said he wanted to make college more affordable without promising “to pay down every last penny of college costs” for everyone, including those who don’t need the help.

Buttigieg took more direct jabs at leading candidates Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden when Ruhle asked him to articulate why voters should pick him over them. On Biden, whose campaign has sold his ability to defeat Trump in November, Buttigieg turned the tables, saying his own electability is why voters should prefer him. As for Warren, Buttigieg suggested that her proposals were too divisive: “The boldness that is required in order to meet the moment doesn’t have to be ‘my way or the highway,'” he said.

Turning to the economy and taxes, Buttigieg promised he would “reverse the Trump tax cut” and said his generation will suffer the consequences from the rising sea of red ink in Washington unless something is done soon to tame the rising national debt. He said Republicans have abandoned fiscal responsibility, so Democrats must embrace it.

“I know it’s not fashionable among Democrats to talk about the debt and deficit like it’s something that matters,” Buttigieg said, promising that all his policy proposals would have identified funding sources. “If we don’t care in the Democratic Party, then nobody does.”

Taking an audience question about the importance of Texas in the 2020 race, Buttigieg said he was “very enthused about the possibilities of Texas for the Democratic Party and for what that means for the country.”

“Texas is the kind of place that has so often been about the future rather than the past,” Buttigieg said. “And that’s what my campaign is about, too.”

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Jay Root is an award-winning journalist who has covered politics, immigration, natural disasters and live music — not necessarily in that order. For a dozen years Root was Austin bureau chief of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where he chronicled the rise of then-Gov. George W. Bush, wrote about cartel violence in Mexico and covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. During a three-year stint at the Associated Press, Root was twice named AP Staff Reporter of the Year for his watchdog reporting, including a story that sparked felony charges against a sitting state representative. Since 2011, Root has been a senior political and investigative reporter at the Texas Tribune, where he covered the dramatic collapse of Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign and went on to write an ebook about it called “Oops! A Diary from the 2012 Campaign Trail.” Root also broke the story that put the Texas attorney general on the path toward criminal indictment, co-wrote an exposé that brought an end to privately funded prosecutions in Travis County, and authored a series of watchdog articles that prompted a wave of firings and resignations at two major state agencies. In 2017, Root co-directed Beyond The Wall, a film exploring border politics in the age of Trump, which won a national Edward R. Murrow award for best news documentary. Root’s latest film, Border Hustle, was released in early 2019 and reveals how desperate migrants have become cash cows on both sides of the border.

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Elections 2020

Beto O’Rourke Says Religious Institutions That Oppose Gay Marriage Should Lose Tax-Exempt Status

The Democratic presidential candidate gave an unequivocal answer Thursday night during a CNN town hall on LGBTQ rights, drawing intense criticism from Republicans and religious groups.

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Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is shown during a Sept. 28, 2019, appearance at The Texas Tribune Festival in Austin. Photo credit: Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said religious institutions should be stripped of their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage, a position that sparked swift and fierce criticism from social conservatives.

The former El Paso congressman made the comment Thursday night during a CNN town hall on LGBTQ rights. Anchor Don Lemon asked O’Rourke, “Do you think religious institutions — like colleges, churches, charities — should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?”

“Yes,” O’Rourke replied without hesitating, drawing a round of applause. “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break, for anyone or any institution, any organization in America, that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us, and so as president, we are going to make that a priority and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

In taking the stance, O’Rourke again staked out politically explosive territory with few allies in the primary field, much like his crusade for a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons following the deadly El Paso shooting in August. He did not immediately back down from the position on tax-exempt status, tweeting his quote on the topic minutes after he was done at the town hall.

By Friday, GOP reaction had intensified, with U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, issuing a statement denouncing O’Rourke for “extreme intolerance” and “bigoted nonsense.”

“O’Rourke and some Democrats have declared war on churches,” Texas Values president Jonathan Saenz said in a statement. “We say come and take it. This unconstitutional threat of using the government to punish churches for their Biblical beliefs on marriage must end and will be vigorously opposed. This is just another example of leftists that want to effectively ban the Bible and destroy our US Constitution.”

Calling O’Rourke’s position a “direct affront to the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty,” the Plano-based First Liberty Institute said it was prepared to take legal action if O’Rourke or any future president sought to carry out the idea.

Earlier in the town hall, which was in Los Angeles, one of O’Rourke’s primary rivals, Cory Booker, did not go nearly as far in response to a similar question. Booker, a U.S. senator from New Jersey, emphasized that there needs to be “consequences for discrimination” but repeatedly declined to say if he believed religious institutions should lose their tax-exempt status over opposition to gay marriage.

O’Rourke released a plan for LGBTQ equality in June. Lemon cited it as he asked O’Rourke the question Thursday night, noting it said, “Freedom of religion is a fundamental right, but it should not be used to discriminate.”

O’Rourke has previously targeted tax-exempt status for the National Rifle Association, calling for its revocation in response to a report by U.S. Senate Democrats that it served as a “foreign asset” for Russia ahead of the 2016 election.

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Elections 2020

Elizabeth Warren Hires Texas State Director

The Democratic presidential hopeful is the first non-Texan candidate to announce a hire in the state.

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Gina Ortiz Lopez raised $1 million in the third quarter of 2019 for her second run at the 23rd Congressional District. Photo credit: Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune

Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has hired a Texas state director, the first such move by a non-Texan candidate in the primary.

The Warren campaign told The Texas Tribune on Monday that longtime Texas organizer Jenn Longoria will lead its efforts in the state, which holds its primary on Super Tuesday, or March 3. Longoria, a San Antonian who sits on the board of Battleground Texas, has extensive organizing experience in a range of races for everything from statewide office to city council.

Longoria has also worked for presidential campaigns, serving as a field organizer for Barack Obama’s 2008 run and as a full-time volunteer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 bid.

Warren’s campaign is the second in the primary to announce a Texas state director. In early September, one of the candidates from Texas, Beto O’Rourke, named a Texas state director, Delilah Agho-Otoghile, as well as four other staffers dedicated to the state.

Some other campaigns have regional staffers, both based in Texas and elsewhere, that focus on groups of states including Texas. For example, Pete Buttigieg has a regional organizing director, Michelle Hutchinson, who is based in Austin and oversees organizers working in Texas as well as other southwest states.

Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, has risen in Texas primary polls as she has ascended nationally. In a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released early last month, Warren overtook O’Rourke for second place in the state, behind Joe Biden.

Warren has come to Texas four times this cycle, making her one of the more frequent visitors in the primary beyond O’Rourke and the other Texan in the race, Julían Castro. Her latest trip, which was in mid-September, featured an Austin rally where she was joined by Jessica Cisneros, the primary challenger to Laredo U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar who Warren had endorsed days earlier.

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Elections 2020

Gina Ortiz Jones Raises $1 Million in Third Quarter

The Democrat is running for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, after narrowly losing to him last year.

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Gina Ortiz Lopez raised $1 million in the third quarter of 2019 for her second run at the 23rd Congressional District. Photo credit: Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune

Gina Ortiz Jones, the leading Democratic candidate to replace U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, raised over $1 million in the third quarter, her campaign announced Tuesday morning.

The figure represents a massive haul that her campaign described as the “largest off-year quarterly fundraising total the district has ever seen.”

“I’m honored by the groundswell of support we’ve received and together we’re building a grassroots campaign to stand up to the corporate special interests and bring commonsense priorities like quality, affordable health care and lower prescription drug costs to Washington, D.C.,” Jones said in a statement.

Jones’ campaign expects to report having about $1.4 million cash on hand — a hefty stockpile for a race that is at the top of national Democrats’ priority list this cycle in Texas.

Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer, is running for the seat being vacated by Hurd, who is retiring, after losing to him last year by a razor-thin margin. She is the frontrunner in a primary that includes a few other, lesser-known candidates.

Jones was one of the highest-raising Democratic congressional candidates in the country during the second quarter, and her campaign said she raked in over $100,000 in the 24 hours following Hurd’s early August announcement that he would not seek reelection.

In an interview at The Texas Tribune Festival in Austin on Thursday, Hurd said he is considering a presidential run in 2024.

The GOP primary for the seat is still forming, but it includes national Republicans like Tony Gonzales, a retired Navy cryptologist from San Antonio. He entered the race a few days after Hurd’s announcement and raised over $100,000 in his first month, according to his campaign.

The candidates are not required to report their third-quarter fundraising to the Federal Election Commission until Oct. 15.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is working to flip six seats next year in Texas — and party leaders are already counting on Jones to put Hurd’s 23rd District in their column. In separate appearances Saturday at the Tribune Festival, DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos predicted Democrats will pick up the seat, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she has “no doubt Gina Ortiz Jones will win that seat.”

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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