Ted Cruz, Julián Castro Lead Texas Tribune Festival Lineup

September politico fest draws 400 speakers

Presidential contender Julián Castro at a rally at Cheer Up Charlies in late June (photo by David Brendan Hall)

What do you get when you put two current presidential candidates, one former, and a man known (affectionately?) as “the Mooch” in one place? That’d be just the very tip of the iceberg of this year’s Texas Tribune Festival lineup.

Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar are the two presidential candidates; they’re both vying for the Democratic nomination, although who’s to say what that particular horse race will look like in late September. (Klobuchar also appeared at last year's TribFest, where she was coy about her 2020 aspirations, as were then-U.S. Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke and New York Mayor Bill deBlasio.) They probably won’t be asking U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz for any campaign tips, considering his failed bid for the Republican nomination in 2016, but the opportunity is there, at least: Cruz has also been announced as a speaker at the 2019 fest, as has another Trump apologist, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, now issuing oxymoronic communiqués like "Support [Donald Trump] but denounce racism."

Now in its ninth year, the Texas Tribune Festival – an offshoot of the Texas Tribune, an Austin-based nonprofit media organization – has become a significant stop on the campaign trail for state and national candidates, as well as a place of vigorous policy debate. This year’s topics of interest include the border crisis, national security, international trade, public education, and criminal justice.

Other confirmed speakers include:

Susan Rice, former national security adviser and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
George F. Will, columnist for The Washington Post
• U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes
Alex Wagner, co-host of Showtime’s The Circus
David Axelrod, director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and co-host of the Hacks on Tap” podcast
William McRaven, former chancellor of the University of Texas System and former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command
Mike Morath, Texas education commissioner
Betsy Price, mayor of Fort Worth
Eva Guzman, Texas Supreme Court justice
• State Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, chair of the House Public Education Committee
Cecile Richards, former leader of Planned Parenthood and co-founder of Supermajority, a women’s advocacy and activism group
Nate Silver, founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight.com
• Former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell; Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards; Air Force veteran MJ Hegar; and state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, all of whom are running in the March 2020 Democratic primary for the chance to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.

The 2019 Texas Tribune Festival takes place in Downtown Austin Sept. 26-28. Chronicle readers can receive $50 off badge price using the promo code ACFAN19. TribFest ‘19 will also see the return of Open Congress, three tents of 100% free and open to the public programming, on Saturday, Sept. 28.


Visiting from out of town? Check out our TribFest page for tips on how to get around Austin and what to do while you’re here.

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