Paul Burka

The dean of the Capitol press corps, senior executive editor Paul Burka joined the staff of Texas Monthly one year after the magazine’s founding, in 1973. For nearly forty years he has led the magazine’s political coverage and spearheaded its storied roundup of the Best and Worst Legislators each biennium. A lifelong Texan, he was born in Galveston, graduated from Rice University with a B.A. in history, and received a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.

Burka is a member of the State Bar of Texas and spent five years as an attorney with the Texas Legislature, where he served as counsel to the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

Burka won a National Magazine Award for reporting excellence in 1985 and the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award. He is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and teaches at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a frequent guest discussing politics on national news programs on MSNBC, Fox, NBC, and CNN.


The Thrilla in Vanilla

The looming clash between Republican gubernatorial candidates Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison may not be as fearsome as the storied Ali-Frazier bout, but it’s the heavyweight showdown every Texas political junkie has been waiting for.

The Idiot’s Guide to the Speaker’s Race

How it works, what it means, and why Tom Craddick may not end up holding the gavel this time around.

My Frail Island

The damage done by Hurricane Ike to Galveston, my beloved hometown, is in many ways worse than you’ve read about. And I’m not only talking about the physical devastation.

State of Play

You may think you know how the Obama-McCain battle
in Texas is going to turn out. You may even be right. But
the more important outcome is down-ballot, where two
dozen or so races—and the future of politics and
policy here—will be affected by what happens at
the top of the ticket.

The Man Who Wasn’t There

Every family has its myths. Some are intended to reveal, and some are intended to conceal, and sometimes the intentions can get confused. The problem with myth, however, is that it can overpower history. That’s what happened in the case of my father, who died when I was four. Only when I finally learned the truth about him could I come to appreciate him as a real person.

Child’s Play

Summer vacation is right around the corner, but that doesn’t mean you should panic. We’ve rounded up 68 of our favorite things to do with your toddlers, teens, and every kid in between. Dance the hokey pokey. Rope a horse. Eat way too many hot dogs. Zip down a waterslide. And yes, feed the animals.

El Gobernador

The first Hispanic to lead Texas will be a Basque jai alai phenom, Dallas attorney, and Democratic state representative whose election, in 2018, will relegate the GOP to semi- permanent minority status. Wanna bet?

Big Red

John Cornyn won a U.S. Senate seat in 2002 by pledging allegiance to George W. Bush and riding a Republican wave to victory. But neither the president nor the wave is as strong six years later, and Cornyn’s bid for reelection may not be either.

North Toward Dome

The best way to visit the Capitol, the state’s grandest public building, is to take the 45-minute guided tour. But there is much more to see if you know what to look for, and I’m going to tell you precisely that.

Agent of Change

In four years as president of Texas A&M University, former CIA director Robert M. Gates—who knows a thing or two about leading a strong, hidebound, misunderstood culture—has left few areas of campus life untouched. But putting sushi in the dining halls is nothing compared with overhauling the Aggie brand.

Capture The Flag

As weird as the 2006 governor’s race undeniably is, the goals of all four major candidates are remarkably mundane: Rick Perry wants nothing less than to be the longest-serving chief executive in the state’s history; Carole Keeton Strayhorn means to move her “One Tough Grandma” act into the big house across from the Capitol; Chris Bell craves respect, for himself and his depleted party; and Kinky Friedman intends to lead his band of unlikely voters in a rousing chorus of “Adiós, mofo!”

Without DeLay

He blames the Democrats, the press, Ronnie Earle, the bloggers—the list goes on. But in the end, what did in the most powerful Texan in Washington was his own excess.

The Elephants in the Room

Remember what Ronald Reagan said about Republicans not speaking ill of other Republicans? How quaint.

I of the Storm

The Gulf carried mendacity in every molecule. Its beauty, its tranquillity, was all a lie. It had created Galveston, carved out its deepwater port, tempted us with the promise of greatness, and then betrayed us.

Ten Ways To Fix Texas

They’re obvious to everyone except, apparently, the people we elected to fix Texas. They include some easy solutions and at least one that will probably get me a lot of hate mail (but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong).