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March 20th, 2014:

It’s as much about Leticia as it is about Dan

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte has been getting some love from the national press.

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte

But increasingly, on the ground in Texas, attention is shifting to San Antonio’s Van de Putte, who is running for lieutenant governor, a position that is in some ways the more powerful one in Texas, because that official presides over the Senate. Van de Putte is quietly emerging as a favorite among some Democrats, who see the Hispanic businesswoman and mother of six as the more likely candidate who could help revive her party’s chances.

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, himself a rising Texas Democratic star, is among her most vocal supporters.

And Van de Putte has also found some unlikely Republican allies in her bid, which will pit her against either state Sen. Dan Patrick or current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the general election. The primary runoff is May 27.

“I am part of Greg Abbott’s finance team and John Cornyn’s fundraising team. I am a Republican fundraiser and bundler, but I am hosting a fundraiser for Leticia,” said Louis Barrios, a Texas restaurant owner. “I have switched sides on this race because it is the most important race that we have had in Texas and I am leaving my Republican credentials at the door on this race.”
At issue for Barrios is what he sees as a harsh and alienating approach to immigration and Hispanics from both Patrick, who likened immigration from Mexico to an invasion, and Dewhurst, who has said that he will focus on securing the border.

E-mails to both campaigns were not returned.

“If anything is going to bring out the Latino vote, it’s going to be a Dan Patrick,” Barrios said. “He is waking and kicking a sleeping giant. Leticia’s race, this is one that can really be won.”

Barrios has been making phone calls for Van de Putte, trying to generate support among Republicans and business leaders in Texas, and others have gone public with their preference.

Barrios said he can imagine Republicans voting for Abbott and Van de Putte, which is possible in Texas because the governor and lieutenant governor run separately. George W. Bush had a Democratic lieutenant governor.

“I am not going to compare and contrast candidates but she brings qualities that are appealing to all sides and genders and races,” said Marcie Zlotnik, who started two retail electricity providers and describes herself as an independent who leans Republican. “She has Republican support and nobody is afraid to say it either.”

As I noted before, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which LVdP wins. It won’t take all that many crossover voters, especially if Democrats finally manage to get their base turnout level up. LVdP will be a big asset in that. As Molly Ivins would have said, she has a lot of Elvis in her, and she has the experience and sensibleness to be an acceptable choice to the kind of Republican that can’t bear the thought of voting for Dan Patrick. The main thing she needs right now is financial support so she can get her name and her message out. If you’re supporting Wendy Davis – which of course you should be – you also need to be supporting Leticia Van de Putte. We’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time. Let’s not let it go by without giving it all we’ve got. BOR has more.

Abbott comes out for inequality

Turns out he’s been a practitioner of it for some time.

Still not Greg Abbott

Equal pay for women is in the spotlight of the Texas governor’s race, and figures from Attorney General Greg Abbott’s state agency show most female assistant attorneys general make less on average than do men in the same job classification.

Abbott’s office said the difference is explained by the amount of time that the men have been licensed as lawyers and have served at the agency.

But drilling down into different classifications of assistant attorney general, the figures provided by Abbott’s office show there isn’t always a direct correlation between such experience and pay.

And of the top 20 highest-paid employees at the agency, just three are women, February salary figures provided to the San Antonio Express-News show. Of the 100 top positions, 37 are held by women.

Abbott’s office said that since he became attorney general in December 2002, the number of female lawyers in his office has increased by 71, or 23 percent.

[…]

The Texas attorney general’s office has more than 4,000 employees, nearly 2,900 of them women. The office defends state laws, serves as legal counsel to state agencies and provides legal opinions, including hundreds of open records requests every year. The office also oversees the collection of court-ordered child support and administers the state crime victims compensation fund.

Overall, male employees make an average of $60,200 a year, and women make $44,708. Those averages, however, don’t take into account differing job classifications.

Looking at the 722 assistant attorneys general under Abbott, the average salary for 343 men is $79,464 while the average salary for 379 women is $73,649.

Abbott’s office said the men on average had more than 16 years of being licensed, while the women had nearly 14 years. The men had an average of nearly 104 months of service, while the women had more than 92 months, his office said.

Of seven different classifications of assistant attorneys general, the average salary for men is higher than the average salary for women in six of them, with the difference ranging from $647 to $4,452. In one category, the average salary for women is $3,512 higher than that for men.

In three categories, the women on average either had more years of service or had been licensed longer, or both, despite being paid less, according to figures from the attorney general’s office. In the latter case, the attorney general’s office noted the salaries were almost identical — the men’s average salary was $122,528, while the women made $647 less while having more experience.

In the one category of assistant attorney general in which women were paid more than men, the women on average had more years of service at the agency, but fewer years licensed.

[…]

Katie Bardaro, lead economist for Seattle-based PayScale, cautioned that a number of factors go into setting pay, even for people with the same job title. PayScale collects data from employees and people with job offers and conducts studies that include a look at men and women in the workforce.

“Even though they have the same title, it doesn’t mean they have the same characteristics. They might not have the same day-to-day responsibilities. They might not have the same years of experience, the same education, the same management responsibilities,” she said.

There’s something to what Ms. Bardaro says, but 1) if the male attorneys generally have the kind of duties and responsibilities that come with higher pay, that in itself is telling, and 2) one might expect there to be more examples of women having higher pay if this were just a matter of chance and distribution and not something systemic. Clearly, there’s a bunch of bad negotiators in that office. The bottom line is that this is a pretty inconvenient set of facts for a guy who’s trying to say that no, really, he does support equal pay.

And then there’s this.

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott would have vetoed the equal-pay measure sponsored by his Democratic opponent for governor, state Sen. Wendy Davis, his campaign said Wednesday.

Abbott’s answer meets a key Davis campaign issue head on and puts the candidates squarely on opposite sides of it.

[…]

Davis has been pressing Abbott to say whether he would have vetoed the state version of the federal Lilly Ledbetter law if he were governor, just as GOP Gov. Rick Perry did last year.

The federal law, named after a woman who sued over pay discrimination, changed the statute of limitations in federal cases so that allegations could be brought 180 days after the last alleged discriminatory paycheck was received. Previously, the clock started running in federal cases when the discriminatory payments began.

Davis’ bill would have made the same change in state law. Backers said that would allow people to bring their cases in state court, a potentially quicker and less expensive avenue.

Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said in a statement, “Because wage discrimination is already against the law and because legal avenues already exist for victims of discrimination, Greg Abbott would have not signed this law.”

Asked whether Abbott would have vetoed the measure, Hirsch said yes.

Because why should they make it a little easier for someone who’s been getting screwed to seek justice? And to think, a few hours earlier Abbott was distancing himself from Republican Party of Texas Executive Director Beth Cubriel and her “women are bad negotiators” remark. Honestly, I don’t know what there is to say. PDiddie, BOR, Texpatriate, the Feminist Justice League, and the Observer have more.

CCA to review dismissal of DeLay conviction

The criminal justice system isn’t done with Tom DeLay just yet.

Do YOU feel safe with me out on the streets?

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday agreed to review whether a lower court correctly decided last fall to toss out the prison sentence handed to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on money-laundering charges.

The state’s highest court on criminal matters announced that it would accept a petition asking it to consider whether a 2-1 decision by the Third Court of Appeals overturning DeLay’s criminal case conviction was appropriate.

The appellate court in September 2013 tossed a high-profile jury verdict, ruling that “the evidence was legally insufficient to sustain DeLay’s convictions.” In a dissent, the lone Democrat on the three-judge panel argued the evidence for a conviction was sufficient enough to convince a rational jury that criminal conduct had taken place.

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, whose office had prosecuted DeLay, had appealed the appellate court’s decision. They had no immediate comment to the morning decision to review the case.

No date for the hearing before the state Court of Criminal Appeals was set. Both sides will have time to file briefs outlining their arguments in the case.

Brian Wice, a Houston attorney who represents DeLay, said he looked forward to arguing again that the conviction should remain overturned. “We are confident,” he said, noting that he was at the Court of Criminal Appeals to argue another case when he was advised that the court would review the Third Court’s ruling.

See here for the last entry in this saga. We always knew that the Travis County DA would appeal that ruling, it was just a matter of time. The CCA has previously ruled against DeLay, but this is a different ballgame. We know that as a rule, the CCA is fairly hostile towards defendants, but not always. We’ll see if they follow their instincts or not. Juanita, who is practically dancing in the street at the news, has more.

Texas blog roundup for the week of March 17

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready to bust some brackets as it brings you this week’s roundup.

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