News Roundup: Poll Shows Beto O’Rourke And Julián Castro Lag Behind Prominent Democrats

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelApril 16, 2019 1:07 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The two Texans vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro, continue to face an uphill battle against better-known candidates. That’s according to a national poll Emerson College released Monday. It surveyed more than 900 people about their support for 20 different Democratic contenders.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden – who has yet to formally declare his candidacy – garnered the most support, at 29% and 24%, respectively.

Spencer Kimball, the director of Emerson College Polling, says that makes them first-tier candidates.

“And then there’s this second tier of candidates that has emerged, and that is led by Mayor Pete Buttigieg; he’s at 9%. And then you have Beto O’Rourke and Kamala Harris at 8%, followed by Elizabeth Warren at 7%,” Kimball says.

Kimball says if Biden decides not to run, O’Rourke stands to pick up some of his supporters.

Thirteen percent of that Biden vote would switch over to Beto O’Rourke, and that would increase his overall numbers because he’s getting around 8% right now. So there would be slight improvement for him if Biden chooses not to run,” Kimball says.

Three percent of respondents backed former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro – that’s up from 1% in Emerson’s March poll.

Emerson College conducted the poll between April 11-14. It’s overall margin of error was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

The Texas Senate has approved a bill that lowers how much cities, counties and school districts can increase property tax revenues without voter approval. All but one Republican voted for the measure; no Democrats voted in favor of it.

Right now, if a municipality increases revenues more than 8%, citizens can vote on the increase. Senate Bill 2 lowers that threshold to 3.5% for cities, counties and special taxing districts. It would be a 2.5% cap for school districts.

During debate on the bill, Houston Democrat John Whitmire said state lawmakers are overreaching.

“I’m terribly disappointed that it’s gotten to the point where it’s local officials against state legislators,” Whitmire says.

The Texas House will debate property tax legislation later this month.

Authorities have released the identities of two women found decades ago in an area south of Houston often called the “Texas Killing Fields.” As Houston Public Media’s Florian Martin reports, investigators hope the development will help them solve cold cases.

Since they were found in a field near Calder Road in League City in 1985 and 1991 respectively, they have been known only as Jane Doe and Janet Doe. Now, League City detectives know the two women were Audrey Cook and Donna, both estimated to have been in their early 30s when they died.

They’re two of four similar cases League City’s cold case unit is investigating. Here’s police Chief Gary Ratliff:

“There’s probably a nexus between at least three of the four, and could be all four for all we know; we don’t know that. So now that we have the identities established, hopefully we will be able to get more information on that.”

Investigators used new DNA technology to create digital images of what the women may have looked like. They were then able to find family members, and compared their DNA, leading to positive matches. They now hope anyone with information about these two women will come forward.