Wed November 12, 2014 1:05 pm By Paul Burka

Alternative headline: Why there is not, never was, and will not be, a race for speaker in the upcoming legislative session.

The answer is that Joe Straus ran a classic big-tent speakership. He put House members to work long before the legislative session was even a gleam in his eye. He gave them assignments and the satisfaction of being on the inside and getting involved in major issues in the upcoming session, which is something every member wants to do. In doing so, he enabled the House to get the jump on the Senate by the time the session comes around in January. It was irrelevant whether the member was a Democrat or a Republican. Anyone who wanted to be involved in the work of the House had a chance to do so. And the members engaged in important issues, including a potential impeachment of Regent Wallace Hall and a restructuring of the Texas Enterprise Fund. Scott Turner’s challenge to Straus never got off the ground.

Tue November 11, 2014 8:08 pm By Paul Burka

After every major election, it seems I find myself writing an obituary for the Texas Democratic party. It’s not a true obituary, I suppose, since the Democrats are not exactly dead, just comatose. This year brought a rare combination of considerable early optimism by Democrats, followed by the worst pasting yet by Republicans.

Read More
Tue November 11, 2014 2:30 pm By Erica Grieder

I spent much of the past few months trying to make sense of Dan Patrick, the state senator from Houston who will become Texas’s next lieutenant governor in January. The full profile, which will appear in our December issue, is online now. Here’s a representative excerpt:

“Right,” said Patrick. “But, Erica, I didn’t bring this up. In 2006 I was quoting a Centers for Disease Control report. And in this race, I’ve never brought it up—except when I was asked.” He continued, sounding indignant. “And the media would report it as ‘Well, Dan Patrick’s talking about diseases!’ They were really talking about something I said in 2006. And they never said, ‘Well, Dan said that eight years ago, and he was quoting the CDC, which is a nonpartisan group in Atlanta,’ as you know.”

Things had changed, Patrick added, since the Ellis Island days. Back then, any immigrant who was sick on arrival was summarily sent back—and yet now his opponents and the media were giving him a hard time for even suggesting that global immigration might present some public health considerations. “So tell me,” he said. “I think you owe it to me in this interview to tell me—you say I’ve changed my tone. Tell me where I have not been consistent on this issue.”

Read/discuss/don’t miss Jerry Patterson’s appearance in the comments thread! 


Tue November 4, 2014 10:52 pm By Paul Burka

There were a few moments when it seemed that the governor’s race might produce some excitement, but reality quickly settled in. Greg Abbott buried Wendy Davis beneath piles and piles of money and videos, and there was nothing Davis could do to counter him. Texas is a Republican state and nothing is likely to change that in the foreseeable future.

Read More
Tue November 4, 2014 8:04 pm By Brian D. Sweany

As the returns are started to roll in–find updated results here–here are a few quick thoughts:

1. As the race in CD23 begins to take shape, the only competitive Congressional seat from Texas looks be breaking Republican. Challenger Will Hurd is leading Democratic incumbent Pete Gallego 53-44%.

2. In the Texas Senate, the hot race was in SD 10, Wendy Davis’s old seat. That also appears to be breaking R. Konni Burton is leading Democrat Libby Wilis 52-46.

3. As for the major statewide offices, there are no surprises to report: Abbott leads Davis 57-41, Patrick lead Van de Putte 56-41, and so on. At this point Ken Paxton appears to have paid no price for not campaigning.

4. And yes, Prop 1 will pass as easily as the water proposition did last year. It’s almost as if the members should have voted on those investments themselves.