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 Irrelevant Governor

Nov 8, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Public Policy Polling’s most recent survey shows that Rick Perry has virtually no support for president among Texans. Indeed, he is so poorly regarded that he would lose a head-to-head matchup with Hillary Clinton. The days when Perry was actually relevant are long gone. No one pays any…

Doom for the Astrodome

Nov 7, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

The news that Harris County voters turned down a proposal on Tuesday to remake the Astrodome into an exhibit and special events center makes me quite sad. In its heyday, the mid-sixties, the Astrodome was the symbol of Houston’s ascension to major-league status, not just as a venue for baseball,…

Big Jolly Politics on the TAB Rankings

Nov 4, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Mark McCaig, Republican gadfly extraordinaire and frequent tormentor of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, posted a commentary on the Big Jolly Politics site over the weekend. Among his observations is an attack on the rankings of state legislators published by the Texas Association of Business. Writes McCaig: With…

The Challenges Ahead for Wendy Davis

Oct 28, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

What are the main challenges for the Wendy Davis campaign? Aside from the basic math of a statewide election, that is? Well, according to one trusted Democratic operative, the biggest is “to get everyone to swim in the same direction.” For instance, should Battleground Texas give up its identity and…

Ted Cruz and the State Republican Party

Oct 24, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Karen Tumulty, a Texan herself, has a story in yesterday’s Washington Post that says Ted Cruz is reshaping the Texas Republican party: Just about every GOP candidate with aspirations to statewide office in 2014 seems to be styling himself or herself after Cruz. In tight formation, they…

Dan Branch on Voter Fraud

Oct 17, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

Attorney general candidate Dan Branch has issued a statement vowing to attack voter fraud. And once again, I am compelled to point out that voter fraud is a solution in search of a problem. Except for rare incidents, such as those involving ACORN a few years back, voter…

The Race for Tommy Williams’ Senate Seat

Oct 17, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

The good news about Brandon Creighton’s and Steve Toth’s decision to run for Tommy Williams’ Senate seat (SD 4) is that there will be one less far-right member of the Legislature. One of them has to lose. In all seriousness, I think Creighton made a mistake with this decision. He…

Sid Miller for Ag Commissioner

Oct 14, 2013 By Paul Burka

Former state representative Sid Miller is contemplating a race for agriculture commissioner. I don’t see how Miller can be an asset to the Republican ticket. Readers will recall that Miller was the author of the sonogram bill in the 82nd Legislature. In an election year when women’s issues are likely…

Abbott on the DREAM Act

Oct 11, 2013 By Paul Burka

Kudos to Greg Abbott for coming out in favor of the DREAM Act (or, at the very least, reforming it), which the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor were quick to denounce in their recent debate. It is the misfortune of Republican candidates to have to deal with base…

Data from 2006 Comptroller Study

Oct 9, 2013 By Paul Burka

Former Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn performed a study of the impact of illegal immigration in 2006. According to the Texas Tribune, The results showed that if the estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants who lived in the state in 2005 were sent home, Texas would have…

Tommy Williams Resigns

Oct 3, 2013 By Paul Burka

The resignation of Tommy Williams from his Senate seat and chairman of the Senate Finance committee is shocking. Williams was at the top of the pyramid. He will certainly enjoy a soft landing in his government relations position with Texas A&M University. Williams was a superb chair of Senate…

Perry v. Obama

Oct 3, 2013 By Paul Burka

Yesterday Rick Perry called the Affordable Care Act, “a criminal act.” This is an example of why Perry will never be president. He has a mean streak a mile wide. Readers will recall that he attacked the Fed’s Bernanke in a menacing manner during a stump speech leading…

Wendy Davis is Running

Sep 26, 2013 By Paul Burka

The Associated Press is reporting that Wendy Davis will run for governor. This will not come as a surprise to most political observers. Davis could hardly turn her back on her party after raising expectations sky-high following her filibuster.

I’m Confused

Sep 26, 2013 By Paul Burka

Is Greg Abbott was running for governor? Because now it seems as if he wants to take another whirl at being attorney general and resume his favorite tactic of suing the federal government.

Cornyn Under Siege

Sep 25, 2013 By Paul Burka

Here is a copy of an e-mail blast that was sent out yesterday by the “Senate Conservatives Fund:” Obviously, this came from inside the Senate. “Fellow Conservatives”: This is an urgent update on the fight to stop funding Obamacare. Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY)…

The Tom DeLay Verdict

Sep 19, 2013 By Paul Burka

In March 2006 I wrote a long cover story for TEXAS MONTHLY about former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. This occurred at a time when Travis County DA Ronnie Earle was prosecuting DeLay for ethics infractions. It was a complicated case that involved swaps of money between DeLay and the…

The Coup Against Dew

Sep 17, 2013 By Paul Burka

Most people seem to agree that Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst is a decent, reasonable fellow with good intentions. So why is he having to fight for his job?

The Retirement of Rob Orr

Sep 11, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

The Burleson state representative's depature from the legislature means that another mainstream Republican has effectively been driven out of the pink dome after being targeted by a tea party candidate. 

Texas Tribune Insider’s Poll

Aug 28, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

I didn’t make the list of the Texas Tribune insiders, but I’m going to try to have my say about the survey on the lieutenant governor’s race nonetheless. First, I think Dewhurst’s 11 percent is too low. There are enough mainstream conservatives left in the Republican party that…

The Dew’s Latest

Aug 28, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

The lieutenant governor was quoted as saying, "It's my hope, friends, that about a year from now that people are saying, 'Why were we talking about Wendy Davis?" What he should be worried about is whether people will be saying, about a year from now, "Why were we talking about David Dewhurst?"

The Retirement of Jim Pitts

Aug 26, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

The retirement of Jim Pitts from the House of Representatives is a sad day. Pitts, who was named a Best this past session, was one of the original eleven Republicans who met to choose a new speaker in 2009 to succeed Tom Craddick. That speaker, of…

After Wendy, What?

Aug 19, 2013 By brian sweany and Paul Burka

It's looking increasingly likely that Wendy Davis will run for governor in 2014. But still, the paucity of credible candidates for other statewide offices is a real problem for Democrats.