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.

Photo by Ed Schipul, Texas Tribune

Legislation cracking down on insider trading by members of Congress hasn’t landed on the floor of the U.S. House yet, but it’s already become a political football in Congressional District 10.

That’s because the Democrat who wants that seat, international affairs consultant Dan Grant, is alleging that incumbent Rep.Michael McCaul, R-Austin, is benefiting from lax ethics rules for U.S. representatives and senators — rules the pending U.S. STOCK Act would help strengthen.

McCaul says his opponent is flat wrong.

At the heart of the dispute is the McCaul family’s private interest in the company pushing the Keystone XL Pipeline — and the congressman’s public advocacy for the project as a member of Congress. McCaul, believed to be the second-wealthiest member of Congress, reported that his family owned $115,000 to $300,000 in TransCanada Corporation stock as of 2010, the latest year available, according to ethics filings compiled online by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

He may be out the race for the White House, but a combative Rick Perry said Monday he would keep fighting for the conservative ideals he championed on the campaign trail.

“I’m not slipping off into the sunset. I’m not riding off into the west,” Perry told Republican activists in Round Rock. “We’ve got plenty of work to do right here in the state of Texas. And I got plenty of fight left in this old 61-year-old body.”

It was Perry’s first public appearance since pulling of out the presidential race on Jan. 19. He was treated to a hero’s welcome — including two standing ovations — at the event, a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Williamson County.

Perry, who had never lost an election before, leaned on the sports culture of Texas A&M University, his alma mater, to explain what happened to him in the 2012 race. Aggies don’t like to use terms like “lose” or “defeat.”

“We just ran out of time,” Perry said. “I’m not used to running out of time.”

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

When Joe Allbaugh walked into his first staff meeting at the headquarters of the Rick Perry presidential campaign on Oct. 24, the governor of Texas had already blown his once formidable lead in the polls.

But there was still hope that he could rise again, and campaign manager Rob Johnson introduced the physically imposing Allbaugh, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as a key part of the rescue effort.

“I’m just here to help,” several senior Perry advisers remember Allbaugh saying.

A few days later, at a subsequent gathering, it was a different story.

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Tiny crowds. Calls for surrender. Defections.

The signs of defeat are everywhere, but Gov.Rick Perry is still campaigning as if he had a fighting chance to win the crucial South Carolina primary and keep his presidential ambitions alive.

Photo courtesy Fox News

The 16th debate of the Republican presidential primary season ended Monday with front-runner Mitt Romney bruised but not beaten. Gov. Rick Perry delivered one of his stronger performances, while Congressman Ron Paul remained blunt and unwavering on his anti-war, noninterventionist foreign policies.

During a two-hour debate before a highly enthused and vocal audience in Myrtle Beach, S.C., the moderators from Fox News and The Wall Street Journal mentioned the notable absence of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who dropped out of the race earlier in the day. That left the four underdogs scrambling for more airtime. They spent the first quarter of the debate criticizing Romney’s business record as the former head of Bain Capital, disputing his job-creation claims.

Rick Perry, trying to claw his way back into the 2012 presidential competition, conjured up images of hungry vultures on Tuesday to describe frontrunner Mitt Romney’s past as a corporate takeover artist.

Perry and other GOP hopefuls are increasingly using Romney’s track record at Bain Capital, the firm he led before becoming governor of Massachusetts, to tar the presidential frontrunner as a purveyor of greed and economic ruin.

Romney says he’s proud of his tenure there and frequently uses it to tout business credentials the other candidates don’t have. But during a town hall meeting in Fort Mill, Perry cited South Carolina companies that were taken over, broken up or sold off, prompting hundreds of layoffs.

No phrase sums up Rick Perry’s political DNA better than this one: He has never lost an election. But after an awful fifth-place showing in Iowa, and top aides telling him he should consider pulling out of the presidential race, the specter of a first defeat has come into focus.

Here's the problem: Perry does not really know how to lose.

“Setbacks are unknown to him,” said Bill Miller, a veteran Texas lobbyist and consultant. “He has no experience with it. He’s never quit because he’s never lost.”

It might have been the closing moments of a Texas governor’s race.

There stood Rick Perry, flanked by his fellow Republican leaders Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Attorney General Greg Abbott, Comptroller Susan Combs.

Ad man David Weeks lingered in a crowded doorway as aide Robert Black adjusted a sagging campaign sign, one of several being used for backdrops inside the Sheraton West Des Moines hotel. Longtime political allies, donors and friends smiled and cheered at all the appropriate times.

But in the few hours remaining before the results from the Iowa caucuses start pouring in, an unfamiliar air of nervousness and uncertainty hung over the crowd. None of them have ever seen Perry so far out of his comfort zone, so close to his first-ever defeat.

Photo by Ben Philpott, KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry has sparked a wave of criticism, and some unanswered questions, after filing paperwork this week revealing that he is collecting both a salary and a pension from the state of Texas.

Photo by KUT

Rick Perry has done something his opponents have been hoping he’d do for years: retire. But it’s not what the governor’s detractors had in mind.

Perry officially retired in January so he could start collecting his lucrative pension benefits early, but he still gets to collect his salary — and has in turn dramatically boosted his take-home pay.

Perry makes a $150,000 annual gross salary as Texas governor. Now, thanks to his early retirement, Perry, 61, gets a monthly retirement annuity of $7,698 before taxes, or $6,588 net. That raises his gross annual salary to more than $240,000.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.