Paul Burka's Profile Photo

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.

Politics & Policy |
November 8, 2013

The Irrelevant Governor

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 attention

Politics & Policy |
November 7, 2013

Doom for the Astrodome

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,

Politics & Policy |
November 4, 2013

Big Jolly Politics on the TAB Rankings

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

Politics & Policy |
October 28, 2013

The Challenges Ahead for Wendy Davis

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

Politics & Policy |
October 17, 2013

Dan Branch on Voter Fraud

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

Burka Blog |
October 14, 2013

Sid Miller for Ag Commissioner

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

Politics & Policy |
October 11, 2013

Abbott on the DREAM Act

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

Politics & Policy |
October 9, 2013

Data from 2006 Comptroller Study

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 lost

Politics & Policy |
October 3, 2013

Tommy Williams Resigns

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

Politics & Policy |
October 3, 2013

Perry v. Obama

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

Politics & Policy |
September 26, 2013

Wendy Davis is Running

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.

Politics & Policy |
September 26, 2013

I’m Confused

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.

Politics & Policy |
September 25, 2013

Cornyn Under Siege

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) and John

Politics & Policy |
September 19, 2013

The Tom DeLay Verdict

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

Politics & Policy |
August 28, 2013

Texas Tribune Insider’s Poll

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

Politics & Policy |
August 28, 2013

The Dew’s Latest

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

Politics & Policy |
August 26, 2013

The Retirement of Jim Pitts

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 course,