Ross Ramsey, Texas Tribune

Managing Editor, Texas Tribune

Ross Ramsey is managing editor of The Texas Tribune and continues as editor of Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter on government and politics in the Lone Star State, a role he's had since September 1998. Texas Weekly was a print-only journal when he took the reins in 1998; he switched it to a subscription-based, internet-only journal by the end of 2004 without a significant loss in subscribers. As Texas Weekly's primary writer for 11 years, he turned out roughly 2 million words in more than 500 editions, added an online library of resources and documents and items of interest to insiders, and a daily news clipping service that links to stories from papers across Texas. Before joining Texas Weekly in September 1998, Ramsey was associate deputy comptroller for policy with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, also working as the agency's director of communications. Prior to that 28-month stint in government, Ramsey spent 17 years in journalism, reporting for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as the paper's Austin bureau chief. Prior to that, as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, he wrote for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ramsey got his start in journalism in broadcasting, working for almost seven years covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.

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From The Texas Tribune:

Republican Greg Abbott has a 16-point lead over Democrat Wendy Davis in the closing days of this year’s general election for governor, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Abbott has the support of 54 percent of likely voters to Davis’ 38 percent. Libertarian Kathie Glass has the support of 6 percent, and the Green Party’s Brandon Parmer got 2 percent.

“The drama of the outcome is not who wins, but what the margin will be,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “Wendy Davis has not led in a single poll in this race.”

Among men, Abbott holds a 61-32 lead in this survey. And he leads by 2 percentage points — 48 to 46 — among women.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Lawyers for Gov. Rick Perry challenged his indictment in legal filings Monday, calling the charges unconstitutional and asking the courts to throw them out.

Bob Daemmrich,

After what are shaping up to be easy primary wins in March for the leading gubernatorial candidates, Republican Greg Abbott starts the general election race for governor with an 11-point lead over Democrat Wendy Davis, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

State Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, recently announced his candidacy for speaker of the House, an election for which will not be held until 2015.

His timing is more provocative than the candidacy itself, because it could force candidates in the Republican primary for the House to declare their preference for a sitting speaker perceived as a moderate or for an alternative — Turner or someone else — thought to be more conservative. It’s not about the speaker’s race. It’s about those primaries.

Texas Tribune

Harold Simmons, a Dallas businessman and billionaire, philanthropist and Republican mega-donor, died Saturday at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. He was 82.

His death was first reported by The Dallas Morning News. Simmons’ wife, Annette, told the paper he had been “very sick for the last two weeks” and said the family had celebrated Christmas at the hospital.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Attorney General Greg Abbott, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for Texas governor, holds a single-digit lead over the likely Democratic nominee, state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

In a head-to-head race, Abbott got 40 percent of registered voters to Davis’ 34 percent, with 25 percent of the voters undecided. In a three-way general election, he would get 40 percent, Davis would get 35 percent and Libertarian Kathie Glass would get 5 percent.

“What you’ve got is a race in which, for the first time in a long time, the Democrat is as well-known as the Republican at the outset of the race,” said poll co-director Daron Shaw, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Leticia Van de Putte, a Democratic state senator from San Antonio, might be part of the answer to the second question her party’s activists are asking these days.

The first question — will Wendy run? — will be answered Oct. 3 when state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, announces her decision on whether to run for governor or seek re-election.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz starts as the Texas favorite in a fantasy 2016 Republican primary for president, swamping Gov. Rick Perry and a number of other big-name candidates in the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

What a difference a fact makes.

Texas politics jumped from the speculative to the competitive realm Wednesday with Comptroller Susan Combs's announcement that she wouldn't seek re-election and the nearly instant expressions of interest from a half-dozen people who'd like that job.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Every morning, people in Texas politics stand in front of their sinks, brushing their teeth, staring at someone they think could someday be the president of the United States.

It is the nature of these beasts.

Before they can proceed with those dreams, however, they need to know what Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is going to do. He has said he will lay out his political plans in June.

Nicolas Raymond / Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Is this about Bill Powers or UT’s tower?

Tensions between Gov. Rick Perry’s administration and Powers, the president of the University of Texas at Austin, are rising, sucking up legislative time and pitting lawmakers, prominent alumni and higher-education critics against one another in a running argument over politics, rivalries and what a public university is supposed to be.

Spencer Selvidge via Texas Tribune

State Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, is considering a run for mayor of Austin and won’t seek another term in the Texas House, he said Wednesday.

“I genuinely have not decided whether to run for mayor — I can think of as many reasons not to do it as to do it,” he said. “Regardless, I have decided not to run for another term in the House. All good things must come to an end, and on a separate note, so must my time in the Texas House.”

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst slipped out his committee assignments for the 83rd Legislature late Friday afternoon, a bit of timing that will give senators — and the lieutenant governor — several days before they see each other again to debate the choices. 

This year's announcements are earlier than usual, and a bit anticlimactic: Dewhurst rearranged the chairmanships late last year.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

After the last of his challengers dropped out Tuesday, San Antonio Republican Joe Straus was elected to a third term as speaker of the Texas House.

That last challenger, Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, never found enough support to threaten the incumbent. An earlier challenger, Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, dropped out weeks ago as Simpson entered the race.

Abilene Christian University

Jeffrey Boyd will become the newest Texas Supreme Court justice, an appointment that scrunches the foreheads of Rick Perry critics who think it odd that the governor would name his chief of staff to the state’s highest civil court.

It’s the latest brick in a wall Perry has been building for a dozen years — a period that has seen him appoint 224 Texans to state district and appeals court judgeships.

His hold on the executive branch is well documented and regularly noted; Perry has been in office long enough to twice go through the entire cycle of six-year executive appointments.

Bob Daemmrich via Texas Tribune

Jeff Boyd, chief of staff to Gov. Rick Perry, is the governor’s choice for an open spot on theTexas Supreme Court.

Tamir Kalifa via Texas Tribune

Have another look at those election results, you blue bashers. Republicans kept the state reliably red, but theirs was not the party recording gains on Election Day in Texas.

Democrats still do not have any statewide officeholders — and their numbers in those races were dismal. But they held their ground in the state Senate, gained seven seats in the Texas House, split the four new seats in Congress and wrested another one away from the red team. The rebound from the disastrous 2010 election was not dramatic, but a gain is a gain.

Gage Skidmore, Texas Tribune

What if George P. Bush wanted to run for governor in 2014?

It’s not what most people are talking about, now that he’s knocked on the political door. When he filed papers this month designating a campaign treasurer — the first legal step on the path to a candidacy — most of the conversation focused on the lesser statewide offices, things like land commissioner and comptroller.

And his father, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, sent out a fundraising letter last week saying his son was looking at the General Land Office.

But if you are, like many political journalists, a fight promoter at heart, you can make out faint rumblings about something bigger.

Liang Shi for KUT News

The Texas Constitution says the state will “provide for the maintenance, support and direction of a University of the first class.”

In 1984, that meant about half of every dollar in higher education came out of the state budget. Today, it’s closer to 13 percent at the University of Texas at Austin and 22 percent at Texas A&M University in College Station.

So, at that level, is the state really providing for the sort of education championed in its founding document?

That’s fodder for debate. Lawyers could probably generate a room full of words over the obligations imparted by the word “provide.” The bigger question is whether the state is doing enough, and whether doing enough — whatever that entails — necessarily requires more money.

Todd Wiseman via Texas Tribune

Republican Mitt Romney has a commanding lead over Democrat Barack Obama in the presidential race in Texas, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. The survey of likely voters found that 55 percent support Romney while 39 percent support the incumbent. The remaining 6 percent said they support someone else.