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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/.

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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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Text to 9-1-1 is now Available in Plano

When it isn’t safe to call, texting is now an option.

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The Public Safety Communications Department (Plano 9-1-1) has announced that  text to 9-1-1 has been implemented in Plano.

The ability to text messages will assist citizens who are hearing impaired, providing equal access to 9-1-1. It can also be used in circumstances where it is unsafe for the caller to physically make a voice call to 9-1-1. (Note: text to 9-1-1 is not available in every city.)

Here are a few important tips to remember when texting to 9-1-1:

  • SMS does not provide accurate location data. You must provide your location as soon as you text.
  • No photos or videos, only text.
  • No emoji’s.
  • No abbreviations, spell things out. Be clear.
  • Only text to 9-1-1 if you are unable to make a voice call.

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Top Ten U.S. Digital Cities

Only one north Texas city made into the top ten.

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The City of Plano has been named a Top Ten U.S. Digital City by the Center for Digital Government.

Now in its 19th year, the annual survey recognizes cities using technology to challenge social challenges, enhance cybersecurity improve transparency and much more.

“Special congratulations go out to Plano, Texas, where the Technology Services Division established a governance board and process for vetting, prioritizing and managing over 320 technology projects and initiatives,” said Phil Bertolini, co-director for the Center for Digital Government. “In addition, through consolidation and infrastructure upgrades, Plano serves as a great example of how a city can leverage technology to increase performance and reduce costs.”

The City will be recognized for this achievement at an awards dinner held during the National League of Cities’ annual City Summit in San Antonio, November 20-23.

The top ten ranking cities in the 250,000 – 499,999 population category are:

1st City of Miami, FL
2nd City of Durham, NC
3rd City of Virginia Beach, VA
4th City of Wichita, KS
5th City of Kansas City, MO
5th City of Plano, TX
6th City of Madison, WI
7th City of Long Beach, CA
8th City of Henderson, NV
9th City of Chandler, AZ
10th City of Greensboro, NC
10th City of Riverside, CA

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McKinney National Airport Receives TxDOT Grant

$15 Million in state funding has been awarded for needed improvements.

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The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has approved a grant of $15 million in state funds from its Aviation Facilities Grant Program for the McKinney National Airport. The funds will be used to extend the existing runway from its current length of 7,002 feet to 8,502 feet.

The first step of the process will be an environmental assessment, followed by design and construction. Construction will likely begin in late 2021.

“Today, business aircraft intending to operate out of McKinney must add congestion to one of the commercial service airports if their operations require additional runway length,” said Airport Director Ken Carley. “We are thrilled and extremely grateful to receive the funding for this project. It is evidence the state recognizes the contributions McKinney National Airport makes to the regional airport system and understands the importance of investing in the airport’s future. Extending the runway by 1,500 feet will benefit the entire DFW area by allowing the airport to more effectively serve its role as a reliever for the region’s commercial service airports.”

Grant funding from TxDOT requires an airport sponsor to contribute a minimum of 10 percent in matching funds. The McKinney City Council approved its matching funds to add to the project in September. TxDOT expects to provide approximately $60 million in funding for planning, constructing, and maintaining community airports this year. About 275 community airports in Texas are eligible for this grant.

Operational activity at the airport is projected to grow throughout the 20-year planning period with increased use by business jets needing longer runway lengths to accommodate heavier loads and longer stage lengths. The current Airport Master Plan recommends accomplishing the runway extension in the next five years to allow the airport unrestricted growth.

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