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The Best and Worst Legislators 2009

THE BEST: Senator John Carona

Dallas

Say “Carona” around the state capitol and people immediately think of Mexican beer, but not the brand you’d assume. This session, Carona was the Most Interesting Man in the World, just like the debonair star of the Dos Equis commercials.

Cue the sexy guitar solo:

His reputation is expanding faster than the universe . . .

When his fellow Republicans advocated changing Senate rules to permit passage of the voter ID bill with a simple majority rather than the two thirds required of every other bill, Carona foresaw partisan furor. He voted no, even though he supported voter ID. Changing the rules to win? Not his style.

He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels . . .

Despite vociferous opposition from antitax ideologues, Carona sponsored a bill giving local governments authority to raise taxes for transportation projects. When Perry and Dewhurst threatened to kill it, Carona marched the lieutenant governor to the governor’s office for a confrontation. He prevailed in the Senate but ultimately lost in a last-minute power play. In defeat, he was both defiant and resolute, chastising both the governor and lieutenant governor for failing to address transportation funding needs.

He lives vicariously, through himself . . .

At one point, the Senate appeared poised to reject an amendment for more funding for supervision of foster children until Carona pronounced it a good idea. On went the amendment. As chairman of the Transportation Committee, Carona was collaborative but brooked no nonsense. When an irate witness threatened committee members, he promptly had him removed.

After his local tax option failed, Carona vowed to return next session “tougher and smarter.” To which we say, “Salud.”

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