Battleground 2020Elections 2020Taxes & SpendingThe Back MicThe Back Mic: Eric Holder Endorses in Texas, Watchdog Group Highlights TxDOT Spending, Sid Miller Makes 10 Percent Budget Cuts

This week — endorsements from a group headed by a former U.S. attorney general, the “Texas Wastebook’s” first highlight, and an agency commissioner announcing budget cuts.
May 29, 2020
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This week, new endorsements from a national redistricting group headed by a former U.S. attorney general are issued, an agency commissioner announces 10 percent budget cuts, and the “Texas Wastebook” highlights its first item.

Eric Holder’s Group Endorses Texas House Candidates

The National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), chaired by President Barack Obama’s former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, released a list of 26 endorsed candidates and elected officials in Texas. The group plans to invest over $100,000 in the races.

The NDRC included 12 Texas House incumbents, each representing one of the 12 districts that flipped from red to blue in 2018:

  • Erin Zwiener — House District 45
  • Vikki Goodwin — House District 47
  • James Talarico — House District 52
  • Michelle Beckley — House District 65
  • Ana-Maria Ramos — House District 102
  • Terry Meza — House District 105
  • Rhetta Bowers — House District 113
  • John Turner — House District 114
  • Julie Johnson — House District 115
  • Gina Calanni — House District 132
  • Jon Rosenthal — House District 135
  • John Bucy III — House District 136

The group also endorsed 14 candidates, who are either challenging an incumbent or vying for an open seat:

The Texan Mug

  • Eliz Markowitz — House District 28
  • Likeithia “Keke” Williams — House District 54
  • Angela Brewer — House District 64
  • Sharon Hirsch — House District 66
  • Jeff Whitfield — House District 92
  • Lydia Bean — House District 93
  • Alisa Simmons — House District 94
  • Joe Drago — House District 96
  • Elizabeth Beck — House District 97
  • Joanna Cattanach — House District 108
  • Brandy Chambers — House District 112
  • Celina Montoya — House District 121
  • Natali Hurtado — House District 126
  • Ann Johnson — House District 134

According to its website, the NDRC aims to “[execute] a comprehensive redistricting strategy that shifts the redistricting power, creating fair districts where Democrats can compete.”

Texas Wastebook Unveils First “Wasteful Spending” Highlight

After announcing the launch of the Texas Accountability Project earlier this month, the Texas Freedom Caucus highlighted its first instance of what the group considers to be “waste, fraud, or abuse of taxpayer dollars.”

The group, whose project also goes by the moniker “Texas Wastebook,” found that the Texas Department of Transportation paid over $8 million to its employees for coronavirus-related “hazard pay.” 

“The TxDOT employees receiving the payments are primarily in maintenance related jobs, and we want to understand more about what increased risk TxDOT believes justifies these payments,” a press release announcing the find read. “We will investigate to learn more.”

Sid Miller Plans to Cut Agency Budget by 10 Percent

After Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen directed some Texas state agencies to cut their budgets by 5 percent, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced this week that he would be cutting his budget by twice that.

“This is going to be a tough year for Texas families, and state government needs to tighten its belt along with everyone else,” said Miller. 

The commissioner said he’d “directed my staff to cut 10% without affecting our farmers and ranchers or our rural communities.”

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McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor serves as Senior Editor and resident plate-spinner for The Texan. Previously, she worked as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.