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GOP Opposition to Colin Allred Starts to Take Shape After He Turned a Dallas-area U.S. House Seat Blue

A former Navy SEAL entered the primary against Allred on Monday, and more announcements are expected before the end of summer.

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Democrat Colin Allred took the stage Nov. 6 in Dallas after defeating Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions in the midterm elections. Photo credit: Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune

The Republican primary to challenge U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, is finally starting to take shape.

One candidate, former Navy SEAL Floyd McLendon, entered the race Monday. And more announcements are expected before the end of the summer as the opposition begins to crystallize for what will be an uphill battle. Allred easily flipped the 32nd District last year as he unseated U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas.

The national GOP is targeting the district in 2020, though compared to Texas’ seven other battleground congressional races, the challenger lineup has been slow to develop. Republicans have waited to see if Sessions attempts a comeback and have been sizing up the political landscape of a presidential election year in bluer and bluer Dallas County.

“I think it will be a tough race but is winnable by Republicans,” said Wade Emmert, former chairman of the county GOP. “It’s always true that turnout drives the result, but that is probably more true with President Trump on the ballot. To win, a Republican candidate will have to embrace the Republican base, including Trump, but differentiate himself or herself enough to speak to the specific issues of TX-32.”

In an interview, McLendon argued that TX-32 is “still a Republican district” — that 2018 was a “fluke” — and pitched his “outside perspective on how to solve our nation’s problems” given his extensive military background.

“I look at this as a natural progression of serving — 25 years in the military, 15 years as a Navy SEAL,” said McLendon, who now works as motivational author and speaker. “Throughout that time, I’ve learned the importance of trusted leadership, and quite frankly I think our political system is broken. Career politicians are not holding themselves accountable, speaking one way to their district and then go to Washington and vote another way.”

McLendon charged Allred with already behaving that way by voting for Nancy Pelosi for speaker and voicing support for the Green New Deal, the sweeping plan to combat climate change spearheaded by freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. Allred backed Pelosi for speaker late last year after taking a noncommittal stance toward her potential return to power during his campaign. As for the Green New Deal, he said earlier this year he “certainly support[s] some of the goals” of the proposal but that he wanted to see more specifics.

“Representative Allred is focused on working with Republicans and Democrats to get things done for North Texans, like lowering the costs of health care and prescription drugs, repairing our infrastructure, and cleaning up corruption,” Allred campaign manager Paige Hutchinson said in a statement in response to McLendon’s launch.

McLendon is the first of multiple Republicans who could launch campaigns to take on Allred in the coming weeks. Genevieve Collins, an executive at an education technology company in Dallas, has said she is “strongly considering” a run and has indicated she could make an announcement by the end of the month. Former state Rep. Dan Branch of Dallas is also taking a close look at the primary and is planning to make a decision late next month.

Another potential candidate is Beth Van Duyne, the former Irving mayor who now has a regional job for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“I’m grateful to continue hearing from people who are encouraging me to be a candidate, but I have nothing new to say at this point,” Van Duyne said Friday.

Already running for the 32nd District is Tania Burgess, an ardent Trump supporter. She has raised less than $10,000 since entering the primary in March but quickly got the attention of Allred’s campaign, which has alluded to her as an “extreme, far-right” challenger in fundraising emails.

Allred has made clear he is ready for whomever Republicans nominate, raising close to $600,000 in the second quarter as he amassed a reelection war chest approaching $1 million. And national Democrats, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, stand ready to defend him after their hard-fought victory last cycle.

“As Dallas County Republicans panic over the possibility of Pete Sessions attempting a doomed political ‘comeback,’ Colin Allred is getting results for North Texas by working across the aisle and listening to Texas families about the issues that matter to them,” DCCC spokesman Avery Jaffe said in a statement.

Sessions looms large, even as some Republicans express unease with another run by the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, who lost by 6.5 percentage points last cycle after initially brushing off the extent of the threat he faced. He has not said much publicly about the 2020 primary, though his most recent comments — published in June by the National Journal — sounded like he was running but not ready to announce yet.

Sessions still has $331,000 in his campaign account and continued to pay his 2018 deputy campaign manager through June.

For a period, it looked like Sessions could face a primary battle against Allen West, the former Florida congressman who now lives in North Texas. But earlier this month, West announced he was instead exploring a run for Texas GOP chairman, taking himself out of the TX-32 speculation game for the time being — and depriving Democrats of a bombastic firebrand they were eager to run against.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2019/07/29/republican-primary-challenge-colin-allred-starts-take-shape/.

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

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Dallas County Health and Human Services Saturday Clinic for Back-to-School Immunizations

School will be in session soon. Plan ahead to avoid last minute, long lines.

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Immunizations for children are required for students in school.

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) is holding a back-to-school immunization clinic Saturday, August 10 from 9am to 12pm.

This once a year Saturday clinic will take place on the first floor of the main DCHHS building at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway in Dallas.

Parents/guardians must bring their child’s most recent immunization records.

“It is so important to make sure your children are vaccinated on time to ensure their long term health”, said Dr. Philip Huang, DCHHS Director. “Vaccinations also help protect the health of classmates, friends, relatives and others in the community. Make sure to get you kids any needed vaccines before the back-to-school rush!”

Dallas County residents from birth to age 18 in the following categories are eligible to receive free immunizations on August 10 under the Texas Vaccines for Children Program (TVFC) who meet at least one of the following:

  • Medicaid eligible
  • Uninsured: a child who has no health insurance coverage
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native
  • Underinsured (as defined by the Texas Department of State Health Services)

Parents/guardians should review immunization records and consult with a primary care provider or a public health professional to determine needed vaccinations.

Texas minimum state vaccine requirements for students grades K-12 can be found here.

For more information on the DCHHS immunization clinic and upcoming community events, please visit the county website.

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Alamo Drafthouse Implements Donation Campaign at all Texas Theaters to Support El Paso and Dayton Shooting Victims

The Texas-based theater brand is stepping up and reaching out to help others.

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Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has implemented a charitable campaign across all Texas theaters to support the victims of the El Paso and Dayton shootings.

Through August 26, guests at Alamo Drafthouse theaters across Texas can choose to make a $1, $3, or $5 contribution via a donation add-on feature every time they purchase tickets via the website or the Alamo Drafthouse app.

Every dollar raised, along with an Alamo Drafthouse match up to $20,000, will go towards the Paso Del Norte Community Foundation’s El Paso Victims Relief Fund and the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund.

Click here for more details on donating and distribution of funds.

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Gunman in El Paso Shooting Faces Death Penalty, Federal Domestic Terrorism Charges

Police say the gunman legally purchased the weapon he used in the shooting that left 20 people dead and more than two dozen wounded at an El Paso Walmart.

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Patrick Crusius, the alleged gunman in Saturday's mass shooting in El Paso. Photo credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation

EL PASO — The gunman charged in the deadly attack that took the lives of 20 people in this border city has been charged with state capital murder charges, and federal authorities are separately pursuing a domestic terrorism case, law enforcement officials said Sunday.

The alleged gunman, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius of Allen, north of Dallas, is in custody after police said he opened fire at a Walmart in East-Central El Paso. He was arrested without incident and is said to be cooperating with authorities.

“I know the death penalty is something very powerful, but in this occasion it’s something that’s necessary,” El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza told reporters Sunday morning.

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said the weapon used in the shooting was purchased legally, but he did not reveal where or when it was purchased.

Crusius allegedly published a manifesto where he indicated the crime was motivated by hatred toward immigrants. El Paso police and the FBI have said they are investigating the manifesto to determine whether Crusius was the author.

John Bash, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said the crime meets the criteria for domestic terrorism under federal law.

“This meets [the definition], it appears to be designed to intimidate a civilian population,” he said. “And we’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is deliver swift and certain justice.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie said the agency has also obtained three search warrants to execute in the Dallas area. He added that the FBI “continues to look at a number of different potential crimes” and that the FBI hate crimes fusion cell — which includes field agents, analysts and members of the agency’s criminal investigations and counterterrorism divisions — has been activated.

Local authorities seeking the death penalty doesn’t mean the feds won’t do the same, however. After the 2015 mass shooting in a Charleston, S.C. church that left nine black churchgoers dead, 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof faced a death sentence on both state and federal charges. He was sentenced to die in federal court before the state prosecution moved forward; he ultimately pleaded guilty and received a life sentence on the state charges.

Federal executions have been rare: The federal government has put to death three people since the death penalty was reinstated, with the last one in 2003. U.S. Attorney General William Barr has scheduled five more for December and January.

It’s too early to know how those jurisdiction questions will play out in the El Paso shooting, but Texas has executed more people than any other state in the country by far — with more than 560 people put to death since capital punishment was reinstated nationally in 1976. Eleven men are scheduled to be executed before the end of the year.

Early Sunday morning, the Walmart where the shooting happened was still surrounded by police officers and yellow crime scene tape. Allen said authorities were working quickly to restore normalcy to the area.

“We’re beginning to remove the bodies from the scene,” he said.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2019/08/04/gunman-el-paso-shooting-faces-death-penalty-domestic-terrorism-charges/.

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

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