News Roundup: Beto O’Rourke, Julián Castro Make The Cut For Dem Presidential Primary Debate

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJune 14, 2019 1:15 pm

The two Democratic presidential candidates from Texas made the cut for their party’s first primary debate of the 2020 campaign.

Former El Paso Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro will join 18 other contenders for the two-night debate in Miami on June 26 and 27.

Just last night, Castro made his case to voters in a different forum: a FOX News Channel town hall in Arizona. There, he discussed a variety of his policies – including one to address racially discriminatory policing. It’s called People First Policing.

“How many of these videos do you have to watch before you understand that even though we have some great police officers – and I worked with some of them as mayor of San Antonio – that this is not a problem of a few bad apples,” Castro asked. “The system itself is broken and we need to fix it.”

Castro added he’s the only Democratic presidential hopeful to release a policy proposal on policing.

Another pair of Texas Democrats are gearing up for a primary fight ahead of the 2020 elections.

Immigration and human rights attorney Jessica Cisneros announced Thursday she will challenge U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo for his seat.

Cisneros, a progressive Democrat – cast Cuellar as too conservative for South Texas in a campaign video on YouTube.

Mira, here’s the truth,” Cisneros says. “Henry Cuellar fights to protect Trump and the big corporations. I’m fighting to end the separation of families. I’ll fight to pass a 15-dollar minimum wage, Medicare For All, and the Green New Deal, so we can create jobs here at home.”

Democratic incumbent Rep. Cuellar has represented the state’s 28th Congressional District since 2005. The Laredo Morning Times reports that Cisneros first thought about running for Congress when was interning for Cuellar’s office in Washington, D.C. in 2014. The South Texas district has been represented by Democrats since it was established in 1993.

Environmental groups are fighting in court to protect lesser prairie chickens. The birds live in five states, including Texas.

These groups first asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the lesser prairie chicken nearly three years ago. The agency said it would make a decision on their petition in 2017, but it has not made one yet.

Michael Robinson is a Senior Conservation Advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity – one of the groups that filed the lawsuit. He says a number of factors threaten the lesser prairie chicken, including agricultural expansion, grazing, and oil and gas drilling.

If the lesser prairie chicken were to go extinct, Robinson says “we’re really looking at the loss of a beautiful bird that has been on the prairie for many thousands of years, that has an absolutely mesmerizing dance and vocalizations as part of its mating strategy; an animal that’s enraptured the human heart for a long time.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife previously listed the lesser prairie chicken as “threatened” in 2014.  That decision was overturned on procedural grounds after the Permian Basin Petroleum Association and four New Mexican counties sued.