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Elections
Local Republicans, Democrats react to Gohmert's run for attorney general
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East Texas Republican leaders on Tuesday said longtime U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert has the experience to be an effective attorney general for the state, while Democrats are uninterested in having the congressman in Austin.

Gohmert, R-Tyler, announced his plans Monday evening in a video on YouTube to join a crowded race challenging Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Gohmert had been exploring a run earlier this month and said if he raised $1 million by Nov. 19, he would kick off his campaign.

Gregg County Republican Chairman Brian Bowden said he supports Gohmert’s decision and that competition is always good.

“It brings out the right candidate, and he’s obviously extremely experienced and would do a good job as well,” he said.

Bowden noted Gohmert’s legal experience and his passion to fight in Congress for the Constitution.

“He’s one of the most outspoken congressmen, and we’re super proud of him as our congressman,” Bowden said. “I think he’s overly qualified to be attorney general for Texas. He would do a great job.”

Smith County Republican Chairman David Stein said he’s glad to have candidates, including Gohmert, involved in the process.

“He’s smart. He knows exactly what he’s getting into. He’s qualified to do the job, and he definitely has a passion for why he wants to run for the office,” Stein said.

Stein noted Gohmert’s background in the military, as an attorney, district court judge and 12th Court of Appeals justice.

Gohmert was elected to three terms as a district judge in Smith County, and Gov. Rick Perry later appointed him to complete a term as the chief justice of the 12th Court of Appeals.

“Ken Paxton, for the most part from what I understand, has done a good job as attorney general, but there are areas certainly where Congressman Gohmert could certainly be an asset,” Stein said. “There are concerns over the underlying legal issues, and how much validity they have is at this point is above my pay grade.”

Stein said securing the election, enforcing the law and challenging federal laws are key objectives for someone serving as attorney general.

For this election season, Stein encouraged voters not to let Facebook be their major source for information and to do their own research, such as reviewing court records from Gohmert’s time as a judge.

According to Gregg County Democratic Chairman Philip M. Burns Sr., Gohmert is “not good for the state” whether it’s as attorney general or in Congress. He said Gohmert doesn’t communicate with his constituents.

“If you want to approach him, he’s not available. That’s one of the main things, and you name me one of the things he has done for Texas,” Burns said. “I don’t see one thing he has done for Texas.”

The only benefit of Gohmert running for attorney general is he will get out of Congress, according to Burns.

Smith County Democratic Chairman Michael Tolbert said local Democrats are happy to see Gohmert will leave Congress.

“It’s one step forward and who knows where else it’s going. His actions, I think, speak for themselves,” Tolbert said.

When it comes to Gohmert versus Paxton, Tolbert said, “We hope that neither one of them has anything to do with representing the people of the state of Texas ever again.”

“We hope that neither one of them has anything to do with representing the people of the state of Texas ever again,” Tolbert said.

Former Gohmert congressional staff member Aditya “A.D.” Atholi on Tuesday remained the lone candidate to have formally filed to run to represent Northeast Texas in Washington, D.C.

Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran this past week expressed interest in the seat. State Rep. Matt Schaefer and state Sen. Bryan Hughes have announced plans to run for reelection in their respective roles.


Local
centerpiece
'So grateful': Families pick up boxes at annual Longview Thanksgiving Food Drive
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A pleasant breeze blew through the parking lot Tuesday of the Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center as families drove up to receive their Thanksgiving food boxes.

Some came alone, while others came with children in tow, but all left with a “happy Thanksgiving” from volunteers and a box of food that would allow them to do so.

Each box from the annual Longview Thanksgiving Food Drive came stocked with numerous canned goods, some boxed items and desserts. Depending on the family size, people received either a hen or a turkey and a loaf or two of bread.

For some, it was their first time getting help from the Thanksgiving food drive.

Ronald McLester pulled up in his truck with a smile and thanked the volunteers for their help.

He said it was his first time to get a Thanksgiving box, and he heard about the food drive through the nonprofit organization Caring & Sharing.

McLester said the food box and hen were a “blessing.”

Frances McCandless and husband Terry McCandless also were at the food drive for the first time.

She said she was grateful to have heard about the food drive because her family did not have anything planned for the holiday.

“Me and my daughter were like, ‘What are we gonna do?’ We were just gonna throw some burgers together,” Frances McCandless said.

The McCandlesses, who have been married for 28 years, said their family has had a lot going on lately and the Thanksgiving box would give them a reason to come together and celebrate time with each other.

“It actually means we get to spend some time with our family,” Terry McCandless said. “We were kinda planning on everybody just staying home.”

The husband wife said they had no preference for what came in the box — they were just grateful to have something to eat.

“I don’t care what’s in the box as long as me and my daughter can cook together,” Frances McCandless said. She mentioned that her and her daughter have never done that, and this would offer a great opportunity.

Other families at Tuesday’s event said they had attended the food drive before.

Ruthie Mayfield, Bernadine Kelly and Sharvell Kelly rode together to pick up their food boxes and said they have been coming for years.

All three women stressed the importance of a good dressing to pair with their turkey.

“I make mine from scratch — I use cornbread flour,” Mayfield said.

Zettie Carter, who came with her daughter, Fadrekia Freeman, said she has 11 grandchildren, and the boxes that she and her daughter received will help feed them this holiday.

“It’s very important, and I’m so grateful because probably without this help we probably wouldn’t have the Thanksgiving that we needed to provide for our family,” Carter said.

She said she is looking forward to cooking the hen with plans to boil and then bake it, season it with salt, pepper and creole seasoning before basting it in butter.

Freeman, who is usually in charge of desserts for the family, said she was probably going to make a peanut butter cake, a strawberry cake and a Kool-Aid pie.


Local
Cold turkey: Thanksgiving cold front to move through East Texas; thunderstorms possible

A cold front moving through East Texas this week could mean a rainy or stormy start to Thanksgiving Day.

Temperatures are expected to rise today to a high of 73 with partly sunny skies ahead of the cold front.

“It’s scheduled for passage during Thanksgiving, unfortunately,” National Weather Service Shreveport Hydrologist C.S. Ross said Tuesday. “We should be able to salvage at least part of the day by later afternoon.”

A chance of showers and possible thunderstorms across the region begins overnight today into Thursday.

Showers are likely before noon with a high temperature of 63 degrees. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph.

“Showers and thunderstorms are possible through the day,” Ross said, noting that it will be breezy throughout Thursday. “Look for falling temperatures late afternoon.”

The rain will be widespread through the region with scattered thunderstorms.

There is a slight chance of showers before midnight Thursday with temperatures dipping down into the mid-30s.

“Look for a high temperature Friday morning right about freezing,” Ross said. The daytime high will only reach 55.”

Ross said there will be a warming trend through the weekend.

Sunny skies are expected Friday and Saturday and Sunday with highs ranging from the mid-50s to the mid-60s.

“By Monday, we’ll be approaching 70 again,” Ross said.

The cold fronts rolling through the region as winter approaches are cooler air masses from Canada. Much colder air can come down through the winter from northern Canada and the Yukon, Ross said.


Fighting gas prices, U.S. to release 50 million barrels of oil
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday ordered a record 50 million barrels of oil released from America’s strategic reserve, aiming to bring down gasoline and other costs, in coordination with other major energy consuming nations including India, the United Kingdom and China.

The U.S. action is focused on helping Americans coping with higher fuel and other prices ahead of Thanksgiving and winter holiday travel. Gasoline prices are at about $3.40 a gallon, more than 50% higher than a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association.

“While our combined actions will not solve the problems of high gas prices overnight, it will make a difference,” Biden promised in remarks at the White House. “It will take time, but before long you should see the price of gas drop where you fill up your tank.”

The government will begin to move barrels into the market in mid- to late-December. Gasoline usually responds at a lag to changes in oil prices, and administration officials suggested this is one of several steps toward ultimately bringing down costs.

Oil prices had dropped in the days ahead of the announced withdrawals, a sign that investors were anticipating the moves that could bring a combined 70 million to 80 million barrels of oil onto global markets. But in trading after the announcement, prices shot up roughly 2% instead of falling.

The market was expecting the news, and traders may have been underwhelmed when they saw the details, said Claudio Galimberti, senior vice president for oil markets at Rystad Energy.

“The problem is that everybody knows that this measure is temporary,” Galimberti said. “So once it is stopped, then if demand continues to be above supply like it is right now, then you’re back to square one.”

Shortly after the U.S. announcement, India said it would release 5 million barrels from its strategic reserves. The British government confirmed it will release up to 1.5 million barrels from its stockpile. Japan and South Korea are also participating, and U.S. officials said it’s the biggest coordinated release from global strategic reserves.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, Max Blain, said it was “a sensible and measured step to support global markets” during the pandemic recovery.

Blain added that the country’s companies will be authorized but not compelled to participate in the release.

Despite all the optimistic statements, the actions by the U.S. and others risk counter moves by Gulf nations, especially Saudi Arabia, and by Russia. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have made clear they intend to control supply to keep prices high for the time being.

As word spread in recent days of a coming joint release from U.S. and other countries’ reserves, there were warnings from OPEC interests that those countries may respond in turn, reneging on promises to increase supplies in coming months.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso was among Republicans who criticized Biden’s announcement. The No. 3 Senate Republican said the underlying issue is restrictions on domestic production by the administration.

“Begging OPEC and Russia to increase production and now using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve are desperate attempts to address a Biden-caused disaster,” Barrasso said. “They’re not substitutes for American energy production.”

Biden has scrambled to reshape much of his economic agenda around the issue of inflation, saying that his recently passed $1 trillion infrastructure package will reduce price pressures by making it more efficient and cheaper to transport goods.

Republican lawmakers have hammered the administration for inflation hitting a 31-year high in October. The consumer price index has soared 6.2% from a year ago — the biggest 12-month jump since 1990.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is an emergency stockpile to preserve access to oil in case of natural disasters, national security issues and other events. Maintained by the Energy Department, the reserves are stored in caverns created in salt domes along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coasts. There are roughly 605 million barrels of petroleum in the reserve.

The Biden administration argues that it is the right tool to help ease the supply problem. Americans used an average of 20.7 million barrels a day during September, according to the Energy Information Administration. That means that the release equals about two-and-a-half days of additional supply.

“Right now, I will do what needs to be done to reduce the price you pay at the pump,” Biden said at the White House.

He said the administration also is looking into potential price gouging by gas companies squeezing customers while making money off the lowered oil costs. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, too, said U.S. companies are part of the problem, keeping production below prepandemic levels in order to increase profits.

The coronavirus pandemic roiled energy markets everywhere. As it bore down and economic activity sank in April of last year, energy demand collapsed and oil futures prices turned negative. Energy traders did not want to get stuck with crude that they could not store. But as the economy recovered, production lagged and prices jumped to a seven-year high in October.

U.S. production has not recovered. Energy Information Administration figures indicate that domestic production is averaging roughly 11 million barrels daily, down from 12.8 million before the pandemic.

Americans are feeling the squeeze. For Matt Hebard of Agoura Hills, Calif., it’s taking $80 to gas up his SUV. “Gas prices are definitely on everyone’s minds right now,” he said as he filled up at a station in his suburb northwest of Los Angeles.

He hoped the president’s move has a good long-term effect.

Sy Amber, meanwhile, was en route to Las Vegas from his California home. Unhappily spending more money filling up his car, he said he didn’t expect Biden’s action to work and didn’t agree with them.

“I’m not happy with our president,” he said.

Republicans in Congress are pointing to Biden’s efforts to minimize drilling and support renewable energy as a reason for the decreased production, though there are multiple market dynamics at play as fossil fuel prices are higher around the world.

Biden and administration officials insist that tapping more oil from the reserve does not conflict with his climate goals, because this short-term fix meets a specific problem, while climate policies are a long-term answer over decades.

They argue that the administration’s push to boost renewable energy will eventually mean less dependence in the U.S. on fossil fuels. But that’s a politically convenient argument — in simple terms, higher prices reduce usage, and significantly higher gasoline prices could force Americans into less reliance on fossil fuels.

The White House decision came after weeks of diplomatic negotiations. Biden and President Xi Jinping of China talked over steps to counter tight petroleum supplies in their virtual meeting earlier this month and “discussed the importance of taking measures to address global energy supplies,” according to the White House.

The Department of Energy will make the oil available from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in two ways; 32 million barrels will be released in the next few months and will return to the reserve in the years ahead, the White House said. An additional 18 million barrels will be part of a sale of oil that Congress authorized.

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AP writers Cathy Bussewitz and Charles Sheehan contributed from New York, Jill Lawless from London and Matthew Daly and Ellen Knickmeyer from Washington.


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