Jay Root, Texas Tribune

Reporter with The Texas Tribune

Jay Root is a native of Liberty. He never knew any reporters growing up, and he has never taken a journalism class in his life. But somehow he got hooked on the news business. It all started when he walked into the offices of The Daily Texan, his college newspaper, during his last year at the University of Texas in 1987. He couldn't the resist the draw: it was the the biggest collection of misfits ever assembled. After graduating, he took a job at a Houston chemical company and realized it wasn't for him. Soon he was applying for an unpaid internship at the Houston Post in 1990, and it turned into a full-time job that same year. He has been a reporter ever since. He has covered natural disasters, live music and Texas politics — not necessarily in that order. He was Austin bureau chief of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for a dozen years, most of them good. He also covered politics and the Legislature for The Associated Press before joining the staff of the Tribune.


2012 Presidential Election
3:42 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Perry Hedges on Gay Soldiers Already Serving Openly

Texas Governor at the Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire on October 11, 2011.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry is promising to reinstate the ban on gays serving openly in the military if he’s elected president, but he’s not sure yet what to do with the ones who have already come out of the closet.

This summer, President Obama certified that the U.S. military was ready to end its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which had been in effect since 1993. Congress passed a law late last year overturning the policy, and it officially ended on Sept. 20.

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4:00 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

New UT Cancer Institute To Focus On Drug Research

The new Institute for Applied Cancer Science will be located at the south campus of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Photo courtesy of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

The University of Texas is committing $75 million to kick start the new Institute for Applied Cancer Science, which will focus on speeding up the discovery and delivery of effective cancer drugs at a time when pharmaceutical companies have scaled back research and development.

Gov. Rick Perry, taking a break from his busy pursuit of the GOP presidential nomination, was on hand for the announcement at the south campus of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, site of the new facility, in Houston on Monday. Perry said the institute would help Texas cement its position as a leader in cancer research and scientific innovation.

“I believe this state represents a unique crossroads, a place where academic research can come together with a very vibrant private sector to tap into this steadily growing biosciences sector. We’re just scratching the surface of its potential,” Perry said. “We’re creating a culture that will help ensure that great ideas that are born in Texas will stay in Texas, from the laboratory to the marketplace, and then we will export them around the world.”

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2:08 pm
Tue November 22, 2011

State Rep. Joe Driver To Get Five Years Probation

A humbled Rep. Joe Driver, the Garland Republican who illegally pocketed state travel money, pleaded guilty to felony abuse-of-office charges Tuesday and agreed to five years' probation.

As part of his plea agreement, Driver will get five years deferred adjudication, avoiding jail time as long as he doesn't violate the terms of his probation. After spending about an hour at the Travis County Courthouse waiting to enter his plea, Driver made a brief statement to reporters.

“Basically, my family and I are thankful that this has been resolved,” Driver said. The longtime lawmaker’s attorney, Dan Guthrie, said Driver may have more to say after his sentencing on Dec. 19.

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10:13 am
Tue November 22, 2011

Governor's Mansion Near Restoration After Firebombing

The Texas Governor’s Mansion, the oldest of its kind west of the Mississippi, has seen death and drama, political joy and heartache, marriages, parties, wakes and — legend has it — regular visits from the ghost of Sam Houston.

All of that history nearly went up in smoke on June 8, 2008, when an unknown arsonist tossed a Molotov cocktail on the front porch. Ten more minutes of burning and the historic landmark probably would have been wiped off the face of Texas, officials say.

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2012 Presidential Election
2:30 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

Perry Urges Voters to "Browbeat" Members of Congress

Rick Perry at a house party in New Hampshire on Sept. 3, 2011.
Photo by Jay Root, Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that Americans would have to “browbeat” members of Congress into accepting his plan to slash their pay and limit the amount of time they spend in Washington.

“It’s up to us as citizens and a president who is not willing to just go up there and become part of that culture,” Perry told workers at a manufacturing facility in Manchester. “I need you. I need people to rise up all across this country and to say, 'You know what, Perry's got an idea here of making Congress part time that makes sense.'”

He urged voters to join him in a bid to “browbeat the members of Congress publicly” to enact the reform plan.

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2012 Presidential Election
12:46 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

Perry's "Bizarre" New Hampshire Cornerstone Speech

A giddy Gov. Rick Perry was fidgety and full of exuberance in this must-watch speech recorded in New Hampshire Friday night.

The revealing video appears to have gone viral. Business Insider called it the “Bizarre Video of Rick Perry That Everyone is Talking About.” Fox News linked to the YouTube sensation, a compilation of the giddiest moments from the speech, saying it shows “Perry Uncorked in One of His Wildest Speeches Yet.”

Perry spokesman Mark Miner said the governor was "passionate in his remarks" but he said he saw nothing unusual in Perry's delivery of his speech.

It’s Rick Perry like you’ve never seen him.

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2012 Presidential Election
11:23 am
Thu September 22, 2011

Perry Has Modest Wealth, But Questions Remain

Photo illustration by Bob Daemmrich/Todd Wiseman

Gov. Rick Perry once scooped up valuable tracts of land in Central Texas, and he scored big when he sold them. But new financial disclosures suggest Perry gave up much of the profits on Wall Street and no longer directly owns any land or even a house.

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2012 Presidential Election
12:44 pm
Mon September 5, 2011

Perry Heads to Texas

A wildfire in Bastrop was still uncontrolled at midday September 5, 2011. Photo by Lizzie Chen for KUT News.

With wildfires raging outside of Austin, Gov. Rick Perry is leaving the campaign trail to return to his home state, the governor's office confirmed this morning. 

“The wildfire situation in Texas is severe and all necessary state resources are being made available to protect lives and property,” Perry said in a statement. “I urge Texans to take extreme caution as we continue to see the devastating effects of sweeping wildfires impacting both rural and urban areas of the state."

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2012 Presidential Election
10:38 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Perry's Attack on Fed Echoes Ron Paul

NASHUA, N.H. — Gov. Rick Perry sent the media into a feeding frenzy this week when he went hammer and tong after the U.S. Federal Reserve, but supporters of another Texan running for the White House heard something familiar: the message of Ron Paul.

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2012 Presidential Election
1:21 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Swagger In Check (a Bit), Perry Responds to Obama

Photo by Jay Root/The Texas Tribune

BEDFORD, New Hampshire — A day after the White House and even some fellow Republicans admonished Gov. Rick Perry for warning of potentially “treasonous” acts by the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman, the governor responded — more politely this time.

With a little less Texas swagger, but issuing a direct challenge nevertheless to President Barack Obama, Perry said his record on jobs in Texas was all the response he needed to give.

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2012 Presidential Election
6:29 pm
Sun August 14, 2011

Perry and Bachmann Compete for Iowa Spotlight

Governor Rick Perry greets a Republican woman at the Electric Park Ballroom on August 14th on his arrival in Iowa.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Michele Bachmann may have won the Ames Straw Poll, but Rick Perry is getting the rock star treatment in Iowa.

Perry was all but mobbed by reporters — from Iowa and around the nation — when he arrived at the Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo, Bachmann’s hometown and site of the Black Hawk County Lincoln Day Dinner.

The event comes only a day after Perry officially leapt into the 2012 presidential race — and a day after Bachman won the Straw Poll. 

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2012 Presidential Election
10:22 am
Sat August 13, 2011

Perry's Southern Strategy Begins in South Carolina

Guilds Davis installs chairs in ballroom at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, S.C., on Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, where Gov. Rick Perry will announce for president Saturday.
Photo by Jay Root, Texas Tribune

Republican candidates have generally looked to South Carolina as a “firewall” to make a final stand in fending off the attacks from challengers. For Rick Perry, it may be more like a launching pad.

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2012 Presidential Election
9:52 am
Wed August 10, 2011

On Tape, Perry Quipped Texans "Thinking About" Secession

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

As Gov. Rick Perry begins criss-crossing the nation in pursuit of the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, one of his most controversial utterances as governor — his flirtation with secession at an April 2009 rally on the steps of Austin's City Hall — is sure to get renewed scrutiny from the national press.

Turns out, it wasn't the first time Perry entertained the idea of Texas leaving the United States of America.

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10:52 am
Tue August 9, 2011

Suit Alleges Perry Approved Unconstitutional Income Tax

Photo by KUT

The business tax overhaul that Gov. Rick Perry and fellow GOP leaders championed in 2006 as a fix for the school finance system is now under attack in the Texas Supreme Court — as an unconstitutional state income tax.

An insurance claims adjustment company from the San Antonio area, Boerne-based Allstate Claims Service, L.P., filed the lawsuit a few days ago. It’s too early to gauge how far it will go, and the state of Texas — sure to vigorously defend the tax — hasn't given the court its official answer yet.

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2012 Presidential Election
4:22 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

Perry Will Make Clear He's Running for President

Governor Rick Perry gives a short final speech at The Response at Reliant Stadium on August 6, 2011.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich/The Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry will make it clear he's jumping into the 2012 presidential race during an appearance this weekend in South Carolina, Republican sources said Monday.

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2012 Presidential Election
12:22 pm
Fri August 5, 2011

Cloud of Controversy Hangs Over "Prayerpalooza"

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman/Jim Ellwanger, Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry is finally getting the national spotlight he’ll need to run for president, but this weekend’s “day of prayer and fasting” rally in Houston may not be the kind of attention he was looking for.

The Response — informally nicknamed “Prayerpalooza” — gets underway Saturday under a cloud of controversy. Its official sponsors and endorsers have been criticized as extremists and bigots. Several groups, including the Westboro Baptist Church, known for picketing soldiers' funerals, are promising to protest the event. A legal challenge was mounted and then tossed out. And the one U.S. governor who accepted Perry’s invitation to attend, Sam Brownback of Kansas, is now a definite maybe.

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2012 Presidential Election
11:22 am
Fri July 29, 2011

Well-Timed Land Deals Built Perry's Portfolio

Photo by Texas Tribune

The same might be said of his real estate deals.

Perry was not born into wealth and while he has drawn relatively modest pay as an elected official since 1985, he has made a small fortune on land transactions, some with the help of rich and politically connected friends. As the governor mulls a run for president, opponents and the news media are taking another look at his holdings and federal tax returns.

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2012 Presidential Election
12:43 pm
Tue June 14, 2011

Rick Perry Says Voters Want More Options In GOP Field

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in New York for a speech that’s fueling speculation about a possible run for the White House, said Tuesday that voters seem hungry for more candidates to pick from in the presidential contest.

Perry is still undecided about his own prospects, but the explosion of interest in his potential candidacy has led the Texas governor to conclude that voters want more choices in the still-unsettled field. Perry made the remarks in a Texas Tribune interview hours before he delivers a highly anticipated keynote address at the Manhattan GOP’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

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2012 Presidential Election
3:19 pm
Thu June 9, 2011

Gingrich Defections Fuel More Talk of Perry Run

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Newt Gingrich lost his presidential campaign staff Thursday, adding to already rampant speculation that Gov. Rick Perry will scoop them up to launch his own White House bid.

Two of the aides, Gingrich campaign manager Rob Johnson and consultant Dave Carney, have extensive links to Perry.

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2012 Presidential Election
11:50 am
Wed June 1, 2011

Sizing Up a Rick Perry White House Bid

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

There’s a sort of collective disbelief within the Texas political establishment about Gov. Rick Perry testing the uncertain waters of a presidential campaign.

Here’s a guy, once derided as “Governor Goodhair,” whose central claim to fame used to be that he was the politician who followed George W. Bush into the Texas governor’s office. This is the candidate who limped to re-election in 2006 with 39 percent of the vote. Today, even a poll in Perry’s own Texas shows he’s barely a blip on anybody’s White House radar, running behind well-established declared GOP candidates like Mitt Romney and even fellow Texan Ron Paul.

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