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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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.

Michael Stravato

The baby boom — that fat lump that has been moving through the demographic snake since the end of World War II — is now made up of people between 45 and 65 years old, give or take.

They are starting to retire, prompting some of the growing conversations about pensions. Their bodies are getting old, which explains some of the ballooning advertising about drugs for this or that. Seen all the hearing aid ads in the paper? Products for gray hair? Couples sitting in bathtubs next to lakes?

As of 2010, 13 percent of the nation’s population was 65 or older. By 2030, demographers reckon that group will account for 19.3 percent of the population. Boomers are not babies anymore — and there are some public policy ramifications.

Bob Daemmrich for Texas Tribune

Greg Abbott, the state’s ambitious and litigious attorney general, is on a losing streak.

Federal courts in Washington ruled against him in two crucial voting rights cases last week, first finding that the redistricting maps drawn by the Republican Legislature didn’t protect minority voters as the law requires, and then ruling the state’s tough new photo voter ID law unfairly burdens minority voters.

Neither ruling appears to be a threat to the elections now under way. In the case of redistricting, the state’s maps were replaced this year with interim maps prepared by another set of federal judges. In the case of voter ID, there doesn’t appear to be enough time for the courts to turn around an appeal and order the new standards before November.

Michael Stravato, Texas Tribune

Dull as it sounds, appointing the committees in the state Senate is a big deal. The lieutenant governor is dishing out power, giving more to this senator than to that one, letting the senators know how they rank for the next several months. The idea is to get things done while strengthening friendships and loyalties, to do it without making too many enemies and to be sure the enemies who remain are too weak to fight back.

That’s the inside game. Outside, the public is watching, particularly that narrow slice of the public that votes in primary elections. Now that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has decided to run for re-election in 2014, what he does with his committee assignments for the 2013 legislative session is the first step in his next campaign.

Bob Daemmrich / Eric Kayne, Texas Tribune

This might be kind of awkward.

Usually, when candidates with seemingly every advantage blow their political races, they retreat into the holes they crawled out of.

In fact, until this year, Texas never had to contend with statewide officeholders serving after being rejected by the voters.

Now we have two.

Todd Wiseman / Gage Skidmore, Texas Tribune

The pundits have this one all wrong.

Their persistent and ubiquitous storyline is that the Tea Party and the politicians who've embraced it are beating stodgy incumbents all over the country, winning an ideological battle against moderates whose conservative blades have been dulled by years of governing and compromising.

The argument travels through Indiana, where a longtime U.S. Senate incumbent who apparently didn’t visit home often enough lost to an insurgent candidate who wasn’t supposed to have a shot. It hopped to Nebraska, where two statewide officeholders beat the stuffing out of each other while a lesser-known candidate favored by insurgents emerged unscratched.

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