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.

Articles by Paul Burka

The Next UT Chancellor

Feb 20, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Rick Perry will undoubtedly get his way in naming the next chancellor of the University of Texas System. Kyle Janek, the executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services and a former state senator and lobbyist, appears to be Perry’s choice for the job. Will regents question his fitness for…

Buy, Buy Ad Time

Feb 17, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

It’s worth spending some time perusing the Texas Tribune‘s revealing graph tracking candidates’ ad buys in the major markets of the state. Of the various graphs reflecting candidates’ network TV expenditures leading up to the March 4 primary elections, the most significant one was the comparison between Hegar…

Another Attack on Joe Straus

Feb 10, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Joe Straus’s enemies are out in force once again, trying to make a mountain out of a molehill — namely, the issue of diverting gasoline tax revenue to other uses. Let me state unequivocally that diversions are a phony issue. They are not an affront to transparency. The only diversion…

Debra Medina’s Prospects

Feb 7, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Can Debra Medina throw a monkey wrench into the race for comptroller? She doesn’t have the money to compete with the two leading candidates, Hegar and Hilderbran, but she has residual name I.D. and a loyal following left over from her 2010 race for governor. (See my colleague Erica Grieder’s…

Wendy Davis and Open Carry

Feb 7, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Was Wendy Davis smart to embrace open carry? I think not. In the end, a lot more of her core constituency will be disappointed than will be elated. And I don’t see that she has much to gain. Greg Abbott long ago wrapped up the support of the…

Slate Card Politics in Harris County

Feb 6, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

For years Harris County politics has been controlled by a small group of political operatives and consultants. Foremost among these is Steven Hotze, a doctor who heads an organization called the Conservative Republicans of Texas (CRT). The CRT and other groups Hotze is affiliated with send out mailers…

Greg Abbott and the Border

Feb 5, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Attorney general Greg Abbott’s $345 million border security plan is almost certainly doomed to fail. The border region is so huge and comprises so many millions of acres that it defies the ability of state government to enforce whatever security issues may arise. Every Republican candidate this election cycle has…

Tuition Increases at Texas A&M

Jan 30, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

UPDATE: I spoke with a friend and high-ranking official at Texas A&M who reminded me that the Aggies have the lowest tuition of any school in the prestigious Association of American Universities. The news from Texas A&M that the board of regents is contemplating an increase in tuition and fees…

State of the Union

Jan 29, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

I thought President Obama’s State of the Union address was pretty predictable. In past years he has used the speech to lay out what amounts to a laundry list of his programs for Democrats to use in the upcoming congressional elections. And that’s exactly what he did. What was not…

New Names on Burkablog

Jan 22, 2014 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

In the eight years or so that I have been writing this blog, I have invited a couple of writers, such as Patricia Kilday Hart and Nate Blakeslee, to contribute posts. But for the most part, it has been me and me alone. So I’m pleased to announce that I’ve…

Primary Lessons

Jan 20, 2014 By Paul Burka

If 2014 is the year everything is supposed to change in Texas politics, why do the campaigns feel so irrelevant?

The Dan Branch Effect

Dec 9, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

I take a dim view of Dan Branch’s campaign for attorney general. A former member of our Best legislators list, Branch is in the process of ruining himself by running away from who he really is, which is a mainstream Republican. On Sunday, the Houston Chronicle…

Bowl of Dread

Nov 12, 2013 By Paul Burka

I was aghast when chili was first anointed our official state dish. More than 35 years later, my feelings about this greasy mush haven't changed.