Politics & Policy

Reporting and commentary on the Legislature, campaigns, and elected officials
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Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

Crass Action

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

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

Furniture

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

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

Unfaithfully Yours

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

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

She Cares

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

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

Leader

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

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

No Man Is An. . .

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

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

The Bobby Riggs Award

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

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

Saint Bill

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

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

The Avenger

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

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

The Best. . .

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

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

Choose Ice

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

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

State Bar

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.

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

Crosses to Bear

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.

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 2003

FLFW Will See You Now

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.

Politics & Policy|
May 31, 2003

Out With the Old

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

Politics & Policy|
April 30, 2003

The Enforcer

The name on everyone's lips this legislative session is unknown to most people outside Austin—inside Austin too. But Mike Toomey, the governor's chief of staff, is the most powerful political operative at the Capitol—and the most feared. Just ask his fellow Republicans.

Politics & Policy|
December 1, 2002

The Secret History

Did Richard King cheat his partner's heirs out of a chunk of the King Ranch nearly 120 years ago? He may have—and if the Texas Supreme Court permits Chapman v. King Ranch, Inc., to go to trial, the past could come back to haunt the state's most storied spread.

Politics & Policy|
November 1, 2002

Mr. Right

The line on James Leininger is fairly simple: He's a doctrinaire conservative who spends millions supporting candidates and causes he likes—and opposing those he doesn't. That makes him one of the most influential players in Texas politics in the post-Bush era.

Politics & Policy|
November 1, 2002

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Once upon a time, the Central Texas town of Crawford was like Mayberry: Everyone knew everyone, no one talked politics, and the air was ripe with the aroma of hogs. Then the leader of the free world bought a little place west of the Middle Bosque River, and nothing was

Politics & Policy|
September 30, 2002

Twins Peak

Julián and Joaquin Castro's résumés look as similar as they do: degrees from Stanford and Harvard, billable hours logged at a tony law firm, and now, promising careers in San Antonio politics. Nothing could please their mother more.

Politics & Policy|
May 31, 2002

Round Two

A year ago old friends Paul Begala and Mark McKinnon mixed it up in these pages over the president's job performance. Now the die-hard Democrat and the loyal Bushie are back for a rematch, wrestling with tax cuts, the war on terrorism, and more. And the winner is. . .

Politics & Policy|
May 31, 2002

Lonesome Cowboy

A businessman with the Western virtues of courage and self-reliance. An aloof aristocrat who bought his way into Republican politics. Who is the real David Dewhurst, and why are so many people so unenthusiastic about his campaign for lieutenant governor?

News & Politics|
April 30, 2002

Giant

Master of the Senate, Robert Caro's third volume on the life of Lyndon Johnson, is an exhaustive study of power, persuasion, and private parts.

Politics & Policy|
November 1, 2001

Tony Sanchez’s New Deal

The 58-year-old banker and oilman from Laredo is enormously wealthy, has impeccable Texas roots, and–best of all–is Hispanic. Sounds like the Democrats' dream candidate, right? Maybe.

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