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Elections 2020

Democrat Chris Bell plans to run for U.S. Senate

The former Houston congressman and 2006 gubernatorial candidate is moving forward with a U.S. Senate run.

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune

Democrat Chris Bell, the former Houston congressman and 2006 gubernatorial nominee, is moving forward with a U.S. Senate run.

On Tuesday, he filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission establishing a campaign. Shortly afterward, he told The Texas Tribune that he was “definitely planning to run” but will make a formal announcement at a later date.

Bell revealed in early May that he was considering a Senate bid and launched an exploratory committee last month.

If he runs, Bell would join several Democrats already running to unseat U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Among them is former U.S. House candidate MJ Hegar, who raised over $1 million in the second quarter, according to her campaign.

There are also other Democrats still weighing campaigns, including Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards and state Sen. Royce West of Dallas.

Bell, a former Houston City Council member, represented a district that included part of the city in Congress from 2003-2005. In the 2006 gubernatorial race, he got 30% of the vote against then-Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, and two well-known independent candidates. He has since attempted a number of political comebacks.

In his filing with the FEC, Bell named former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski as his campaign treasurer. Bell said the Jaworski name “stands for integrity and the highest ethical standards in the eyes of many Texans things that are sorely missing in today’s Washington and that I plan to talk about a lot on the campaign trail.”

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

Patrick Svitek is the primary political correspondent for The Texas Tribune, and editor of The Blast, the Tribune's subscription-only daily newsletter for political insiders. Patrick logged countless miles on the 2016 campaign trail, covering the many Texas angles of the momentous presidential race. He previously worked for the Houston Chronicle's Austin bureau. He graduated in 2014 from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He originally is from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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Elections 2020

Houston to Host Third Debate in Democratic Presidential Primary

The debate is scheduled for Sept. 12 and 13. Calling Texas a battleground state, party officials hailed the decision.

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune

The third debate in the Democratic presidential primary will be in Houston, party officials announced late Tuesday.

The event, sponsored by ABC News and Univision, is scheduled for Sept. 12 and 13.

“Texas is a battleground state, period,” Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement. “We know that when Texas goes blue, the White House will follow. We are pleased that our partners at the Democratic National Committee have agreed to host the third Presidential Debate here in Texas.”

Party officials did not immediately say where in Houston the debates would be held.

The national party chairman, Tom Perez, hailed Houston’s status as America’s most diverse city, calling it the “perfect place to showcase our candidates so that they can share their vision for a better future for the American people.”

The Houston debate follows the first debate last month in Miami and the second debate, which is set for July 30 and 31 in Detroit. The Democratic National Committee has capped the number of participants at 20 for each of the two consecutive nights, assuming enough candidates qualify.

The Houston debate will be the first to use higher standards for candidates to qualify. They must get 2% support in four polls and receive 130,000 donors. For the upcoming Detroit debate, candidates only have to crack 1% in three surveys or accrue 65,000 contributors. That lower threshold was also used for the Miami debate last month.

It remains to be seen whether the two Texans running for president will make the September debate stage. Julián Castro announced Monday he had crossed the 130,000-donor threshold, but he has hovered below 2% in most recent polls. Beto O’Rourke has likely blown past the donor requirement based on previously released statistics, but he also has work to do in the polls.

Houston has already proved to be a hot spot for presidential campaign activity this year. It has hosted a number of candidate forums, including one Friday organized by the National Education Association.

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

Beto O’Rourke Releases Plan for LGBTQ Equality

“We must ensure all Americans are treated equally no matter who they are or who they love,” the Democratic presidential candidate says in offering his sixth major policy proposal.

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Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke's supporters, including one holding a LGBTQ Pride flag, gather ahead of a rally in El Paso in March. Photo credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre / The Texas Tribune

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke released a proposal Wednesday morning to achieve equality for LGBTQ Americans and reinstate protections abandoned by President Donald Trump.

The plan — O’Rourke’s sixth major policy rollout — is heavy on executive actions he would pursue to support the LGBTQ community. It also prescribes legislation he would champion and steps that can be taken on the global stage.

“We must ensure all Americans are treated equally no matter who they are or who they love,” the former El Paso congressman said in a statement on the proposal, which comes amid LGBTQ Pride Month and arrived hours before he was set to lead a “Pride Run” in New York City.

Among the executive actions that O’Rourke would take: overturning Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, reversing the “deploy or get out” policy that critics say discriminates against HIV-positive service members, and bringing back U.S. Education Department guidance that sought to protect LGBTQ students. O’Rourke would also act to crack down on conversion therapy, update blood donation requirements for LGBTQ people, increase LGBTQ representation in the census and install more pro-LGBTQ people in government, especially in the judiciary.

O’Rourke’s plan puts an emphasis on protecting transgender people — specifically transgender women of color — calling for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate crimes against them and making sure law enforcement agencies get the right training to respond. Dallas in particular has been roiled by a recent string of slayings involving transgender women of color.

When it comes to legislation, O’Rourke backs measures such as the Equality Act, a sweeping bill passed last month by the Democratic-led House that would overhaul the Civil Rights Act to protect LGBTQ Americans. O’Rourke also wants to make sure LGBTQ people have equal access to health care and insurance as part of any universal health care system that his administration would pursue in Congress.

And on the international front, O’Rourke proposes things like collaborating with allies to craft a global treaty through the International Law Commission of the United Nations that would shield LGBTQ people from persecution. O’Rourke also would create a “special envoy for the human rights of LGBTQ+ people” in the U.S. State Department.

Looking to stand out as his poll numbers remain low, O’Rourke has been producing policy papers at a steady rate. He previously released proposals on climate change, abortion rights, criminal justice, voting rights and immigration.

Immigration continues to be a focus in O’Rourke’s latest plan. His proposed executive actions include clarifying that LGBTQ people fleeing persecution are a “vulnerable population” that can use the U.S. asylum process.

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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