Senior executive editor Mimi Swartz has long been known as one of this country’s premier longform writers. And it turns out that she’s got quite a short game as well. An early version of her story “STAAR Wars” first appeared on our site back in February, and it has caused quite a stir, prompting a key lawmaker to call hearings in the Capitol.

From her base in Houston, Mimi has developed an abiding interest in one of the topics that Texans care most about, public education, the funding of which is one of the top two issues currently before the Legislature. In her exclusive story on our website, she reported on evidence indicating that the statewide test used to assess students, teachers, and schools is being administered in a manner that asks students to read well above their grade level.

After Mimi’s story appeared, Dan Huberty, the chair of the House Committee on Public Education, decided to explore the issue in public hearings. The Washington Post and New York Times followed our story with reports of their own. 

Mimi labored through the long Presidents’ Day weekend to report her testing story even as she put the last touches on a poignant personal essay (“Life, in Dog Years”) that describes her last months with her dad and the pet corgi he left behind with her.

I first met this month’s cover subject, Will Hurd, a decade ago, as he was launching his initial campaign for Congress. We were both active in the World Affairs Council of San Antonio and shared stories about our adventures abroad and about a mutual friend, the diplomat Ryan Crocker, now the dean of Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. Though he failed in his first run for office, Will has since made quite a name for himself in the dangerous spot that is the middle of the road in Texas politics.

Our story, by senior editor Eric Benson, vividly captures Will’s cheerful, restless intelligence and collaborative temperament and raises the question of whether he represents the future of the Republican party or its past.

We’d love to hear what you think about that question—and what you think about Mimi’s stories and the rest of this issue. Please send me your thoughts at [email protected].