When Paul Burka was ten years old, his mother gave him a board game called Politics. This is the honest truth. Elvis’s mother gave him a guitar; Paul’s mother gave him Politics. He can still remember the rules. “You tried to capture the states, which were divided into six colors by size,” he says. “This was how I learned what an electoral vote was. To this day I can tell you how the votes were apportioned. There were twenty-four for Texas. See, I always loved this stuff.”
This won’t come as a surprise to any of the millions of Texans who have grown up reading Paul’s take on the goings-on in Austin. Since he started reporting and writing our biannual roundup of the Best and Worst Legislators, in 1977, Paul’s has been one of the most incisive and important political voices in Texas. Few reporters in the country have as deep a knowledge of their state’s politics (and, luckily for us, no other state in the country has such entertaining politicians). Paul is, simply, an institution.
When the first issue of texas monthly was published, in February 1973, Paul was a 31-year-old Capitol staffer, writing bills about beach erosion for his hometown state senator, A.â€ŠR. “Babe” Schwartz, of Galveston.