Some people carry a chip on their shoulder. Yvonne Davis carries the whole tree. So frequently does her participation in debate turn sour that the Capitol crowd refers to her as Whyvonne, as in, “Why is she acting like this?” Never was that question on more lips than in the
Two sessions ago Troy Fraser made the Worst list because of his propensity for snatching bills from other senators. We noted then that his ambition to handle major legislation exceeded his colleagues’ faith in his competence. Could this raucous kindergartner handle the difficult first-grade requirements: Wait your turn, don’t shove,
Would someone please give Tom DeLay a map? No, not a redistricting map. He has plenty of those. A road map. He’s a member of the House of Representatives, all right, but it’s the one in Congress, not the one on Congress Avenue. That didn’t stop him from trying to
The Best and the Worst Legislators story has always been about process—the sausage-making rather than the sausage. Ends are important, but what really matters are the means. Are members treated fairly by the leadership? Can they vote their conscience? Is the lobby in the driver’s seat? By these standards, Tom
He was the point man for the good guys on the most important issue of the session. He spent his days and nights fighting the bad guys, and it almost did him in. With the Legislature facing a $9.9 billion shortfall, it fell to Teel Bivins, the chairman of the
Steve Wolens isn’t much of a sports fan, so he isn’t likely to appreciate a baseball metaphor, but he seemed this session like a Hall of Famebound pitcher who has lost a little of his zest for the game. He still throws his fastball as hard as ever, but the
Robert Talton’s legislative program consists primarily of trying to enact his prejudices into law. He is far from the first to come to the House for such a purpose, but what sets him apart are the fury of his biases and the extremity of his remedies. Take, for example, his
Like the Good Samaritan who assisted the injured stranger, Robert Duncan couldn’t resist the call of friendless but worthy causes. If there was a difficult job that absolutely had to be performed, senators could always count on him to do the right thing (or, as he says in his West
Operating under enormous pressure all session, with Republicans and Democrats gearing up to run against him in his swing district, the 24-year-old UT law student amended the House tort-reform bill to require a medical-malpractice insurance-rate rollback and added a provision to the tuition-deregulation bill raising the amount to be set
“For Texans who’ve wondered whether there’s a politician walking the halls of the state Capitol who actually votes his or her conscience without first taking an opinion poll,” began a January 16 editorial in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “wonder no longer.” And who might that rare fellow be? Why, it’s
The lofty title Dean of the Texas Senate is bestowed each session on the senator with the longest tenure and carries with it the unspoken responsibility of protecting the chamber’s dignity and traditions. As with English kings, however, the line of succession does not always produce someone suited to the
Nobody bumped into more obstacles on his way to passing an important bill than the balding, bespectacled, Mr. Magoolike chairman of the House Insurance Committee, whose charge was to bring down homeowners’ rates without driving insurance companies out of Texas. It wasn’t going to be easy. First, a group of
In the different fates of Joe Nixon and Bill Ratliff lies a message about how politics works. Each is a Republican. Each worked hard on tort reform. Each guided a version of the bill through his chamber pretty much intact, without unwanted amendments. Yet Nixon is on the Worst list
As chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Jim Dunnam had the most difficult role in politics: leader of the opposition. You have to decide whether to work within the system, which was the course Republicans generally followed for the past quarter century, or whether to challenge, obstruct, delay, call out
If she had been nothing more than the first Hispanic woman elected to the Legislature, Irma Rangel would deserve her place in our political pantheon. But she was so much more. She was a mentor, a role model, and a lawmaker who in 1997 passed a bill that changed Texas:
What a dismal story this is. A young lawyer gets elected to the House, and even before she is sworn in, she cashes in, using a legal but long-discredited stratagem available only to legislator-lawyers: the legislative continuance. State law provides that lawmakers with pending cases can ask for a delay
The term “furniture” describes members who, by virtue of their indifference or inactivity, were indistinguishable from their desks, chairs, and spittoons. Herewith, a tasteful display of the state’s Stickleys and Chippendales. EMPTY FURNITURE Senator Gonzalo Barrientos (Democrat, Austin) won a plum seat on the Senate Finance Committee, and he might
Your cheatin’ heart will make you weep. You’ll cry and cry and try to sleep. But sleep won’t come the whole night through. Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you.Some might argue that all’s fair in love and politics. But in the Senate, fidelity is the essential virtue. A margin
Dianne Delisi has a peculiar idea about politics: She thinks that you can succeed just by coming up with good ideas, working hard, and being nice. Well, that might work for the president of the PTA back home, but everybody knows that the way to get ahead in the Capitol
Following testimony before a House committee about health problems along the border, she told the El Paso Times, “Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell.”
For thirty years our policy has been that presiding officers are not eligible for the Best or the Worst list except in exceptional circumstances. These are exceptional circumstances. David Dewhurst began with the lowest of expectations and ended with the highest of praise. The former land commissioner’s election as lieutenant
Think of the change in leadership in the House, from Democrat to Republican, as a geological cataclysm akin to the meteor crash in the Yucatán Peninsula 65 million years ago that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Now imagine that, as the dust settles, one lone Tyrannosaurus rex survives
Referring to California’s budgetary woes, Governor Rick Perry said, “I get up every day and thank God I don’t live in California.” To which Hilary McLean, the chief deputy press secretary to California governor Gray Davis, replied, “I’m sure there are millions of Californians who wake up every day and
Let’s be honest. We knew on the first day of the session that unless Bill Ratliff lost his mind, he was going to be on the Best list. Everybody knew. He is, as one lobbyist put it, “a redwood among the pines.” The question then became what new phrases we
She was Madame Defarge, knitting the names of future victims into the quilt of her memory. Beverly Woolley personified the worst aspect of the new Republican majority in the House: its insatiable appetite for payback against Democrats. And what had the Democrats done, really, except run the state for 130
Best Alternative Nickname for The Killer D’sWeapons of Mass ObstructionBest Souvenir Killer D’s playing cardsU.S. forces in Iraq used playing cards bearing the likenesses of Saddam Hussein and his henchmen to hunt them down. When the Democrats fled the Capitol to defeat the congressional-redistricting bill, political consultant James Bernsen came
Dear Arlene, Another session, another letter. Two years ago we wrote to warn you that we were about to ruin your standing with your conservative pals by naming you to the Best list. But you can’t blame us this year. It’s your own fault. Your Republican colleagues were having the
Platon, who photographed the former president for the cover, discusses portraiture and creating the perfect image.
It was a session like no other: different rules, new power players, a surprise trip to Oklahoma, and the small matter of a $9.9 billion budget shortfall. All of which made it tricky to separate the heroes from the zeroes. But we did.
Editor Evan Smith talks about interviewing George H. W. Bush.
If Texas politics is your thing and you live in Austin, sometimes you want to go where every lobbyist knows your name. And they're always glad you came.
Every day the new politics of abortion play out at clinics like the one in Bryan–College Station, where emotions run high and Roe v. Wade is almost beside the point.
"The worst thing you can do is formulate paragraph-long answers in advance. Keep it simple, stupid."
"I felt free to express my opinions. But if I was going to make a speech and I was talking about policy, I'd choose my words carefully."
"If you start feeling sorry for yourself, if you point fingers and get angry at this person or that, what good does it do?"
"The conventional wisdom is that you have to make him perfect. But today, humanity is more important than perfection."
"I had to live my life as productively as I could, despite what people would say behind my back."
"If you want the speaker to sound warm and welcoming, spend an hour with her, hear her voice, and capture it on paper."
In a rare interview, George H.W. Bush—a.k.a. the Former Leader of the Free World—disses Newt and the Dixie Chicks, muses on the restorative powers of Maine, and (who'd have imagined?) has nice things to say about the current occupant of the Oval Office.
Executive editor S. C. Gwynne talks about Al Gonzales, getting access, and Washington politics.
William H. Rehnquist Age: 78 // Years on Bench: 31 1 : The speculation: As Republican appointees, O’Connor and Rehnquist are more likely to retire while a Republican is in office and during a nonelection year (read: This summer sure looks good). Otherwise, they risk having to wait at
Conservatives fear that the White House counsel is another David Souter, but he's close enough to George W. that he'll probably get a Supreme Court seat anywayand make history.
Haven't we settled the prayer-in-politics debate and turned our attention to more important things, like the budget shortfall? Apparently not.
The name on everyone's lips this legislative session is unknown to most people outside Austininside Austin too. But Mike Toomey, the governor's chief of staff, is the most powerful political operative at the Capitoland the most feared. Just ask his fellow Republicans.
Executive editor S. C. Gwynne talks about Karl Rove and this month's cover story, "Genius."
Kinky Friedman for governor?!?
Drilling for answers on Padre Island.
In the spring of 1995, Austin lawyer and photography-enthusiast Michael Hull found himself in a self-described "interesting intersection in time"or at least Texas time.
On November 22, 1963, I was working as a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram when I answered the phone—and got a close encounter with history.
Can the Republicans govern?