Forty years have passed since the first time TEXAS MONTHLY chose the Ten Best and the Ten Worst legislators. In the introduction to the first list, published in July 1973, we wrote, “The ancient Greeks believed that politics was the act of organizing and governing human society for the greatest good, and considered it to be among the highest callings of man.” What was true then remains true today. Politics can inform our noblest impulses–and our basest. Our legislators, then and now, may not pass for ancient Greeks, but they deserve better than the cynics who automatically write off politics as a joke and politicians as charlatans.

If there is a single idea that informs our choices of the Best and Worst legislators, it is that the business of governing Texas is a personal business, and that the influence of personality has more to do with success or failure in politics than party or ideology. In this session, as with the 63rd, our team of reporters was present from day one until adjournment sine die. We were on the floor, in committees, and in the hallways and back rooms, talking with members, staffers, lobbyists, and other journalists. Readers will no doubt find things to criticize in this list—after all, that’s what lists are for—but it is the result of that work and of the opinions and input of key voices in and around the Capitol.

Of course, I realize that you want to know more than just the names—you want to know the stories behind them. Subscribers will begin to get their copies of the July issue starting this weekend, and next week it will be on newsstands. The story will also be available on our website a week from today. Until then, I hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comments below.

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen)

Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth)

Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock)

Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth)

Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D- San Antonio)

Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie)

Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio)

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio)

Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands)

Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth)

Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas)

Comptroller Susan Combs (R-Austin)

Rep. Naomi Gonzalez (D-El Paso)

Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills)

Rep. Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerrville)

Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston)

Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston)

Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City)

Rep. Van Taylor (R-Plano)

Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston)

Illustration by Ronald Kurniawan