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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Graphic by Texas Tribune

[Editor's note: This is the second of five stories about the University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Yesterday we looked at Texas voters and the 2012 presidential contest. Tomorrow, the races for U.S. Senate and lieutenant governor.]

A key part of Gov. Rick Perry's pitch to Republican presidential primary voters is the performance of the state's economy — especially in job creation — during his tenure as governor. But Texas voters, for the most part, are more likely to see him as a bystander to the state's success than its driver, according to the new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll.

Asked about the factors behind the state economy's relative strength, 65 percent of those responding attributed it to long-standing advantages such as the state's wealth of natural resources, its balanced budget, the absence of a state personal income tax and a lenient regulatory environment. Another 21 percent cited Perry's leadership in promoting lower taxes, lenient regulation and small government as the main reason the Texas economy has fared better than the national economy.

Photo by Ben Philpott for KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry is statistically tied with businessman Herman Cain among Republican presidential primary voters in his home state of Texas, with the rest of the GOP candidates well behind the leaders, according to the new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll.

Graphic by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Texans for Lawsuit Reform is the biggest and richest tort reform group in the state. No surprise there. But as its political action committee has become the dominant financial engine for legislative races, it has helped create a Legislature that’s not only more conservative about legal issues, but more conservative, period.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, is quietly exploring a run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican sources told The Texas Tribune on Tuesday. McCaul is telling potential supporters that he's prepared to spend $4 million to $6 million of his own money.

In his first week as a presidential candidate, Gov. Rick Perry found there are more people than ever who are paid to parse his every word. And he’s making it easy for them.

Photo by Bob Daemmrich/The Texas Tribune

As Gov. Rick Perry has launched his presidential campaign, he’s turned to a talking point familiar to anyone who has heard him rail against the federal government over the last two years: the perfidy of the roughly $800 billion stimulus plan orchestrated by the Obama administration in 2009.

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

What if everybody loses?

Gov. Rick Perry is running for president. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is running for U.S. Senate. And it seems like everyone else in Texas politics is making plans based on one or both of those offices opening in 2012. Then there’s the 2014 election, when most of the statewide spots in Texas government open, and the assumption that neither Perry nor Dewhurst will be on the ballot that year.

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

This has been a busy year for state Comptroller Susan Combs.

The state Legislature began the year with a deficit in the current budget and a $28 billion shortfall in the next one, a financial predicament that put a heavy load on the state's chief financial officer. Last spring, her aides announced the agency had left personal information about 3.5 million current and former public school and state employees in an unsecure spot on her agency's website. After that news had been knocked around in public for several days, she took responsibility and fired some of her agency's technology managers. She has since beefed up the agency's privacy standards and has consultants working to see what harm was actually done. Separately, but also central to her political future, she changed her position on abortion rights. All of this came after she told the Tribune she might be interested in running for lieutenant governor in 2014 should the opportunity present itself.

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Comptroller Susan Combs has switched her position on abortion rights, from pro-choice to pro-life, she said in an interview with The Texas Tribune this morning.

Combs and her husband Joe also contributed $5,000 to the South Austin Crisis Pregnancy Center. Combs said the state needs to focus its policies on more counseling for young women.

Combs said flatly that she has changed her position on the abortion issue, moving from a "pro-choice, but not pro-abortion" position to opposition to abortions. "I’m unequivocal about it. I was wrong," she said.

Photo by Jeramey Jannene/Paul Lowry/Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Christi Craddick, daughter of former House Speaker Tom Craddick, says she'll run for the Republican nomination for the Texas Railroad Commission next year — for the seat now held by Republican Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones.

Jones has set her sights on a U.S. Senate race and won't seek reelection.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Ron Paul has been a national figure for so long that it's easy to forget he's one of ours.

You know. Texan.

After years in the national spotlight and, sometimes, at the edges of the spotlight, Paul announced that he won't seek re-election to Congress next year. Instead, he'll spend his time campaigning for president for the third time.

Photo illustration by Caleb Bryant Miller for Texas Tribune

KUT's political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, continues its series examining Governor Rick Perry's possible run for the Republican presidential nomination.

Photo by PUC Commissioner

Gov. Rick Perry is moving Barry Smitherman from the Public Utility Commission to the Texas Railroad Commission, replacing Michael Williams, who resigned earlier this year to run for Congress. Smitherman was sworn into office this afternoon by Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett.

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

State legislators say they've reached a compromise on reform of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, potentially averting a second special session this summer.

Absent a deal, Gov. Rick Perry said last week that he would call lawmakers back into session to work out their differences on TWIA, which acts as an insurer of last resort on hurricane and other windstorm claims.

TWIA has become a battlefield for tort reformers and trial lawyers, after it botched hurricane claims and found itself paying hefty fees to lawyers who sued on behalf of people whose initial claims didn't cover what their policies promised.

Photo by Texas Tribune

Michael Williams is officially out of the Senate race and in the race for a new congressional seat based in Arlington.

He said earlier this month he was considering a switch, and now that the Legislature has approved congressional redistricting maps that include the new district, he's filing papers with the Federal Election Commission moving from the Senate contest to the race for Congress.

The 2012-13 budget has been approved by both the House and the Senate, and now, with less than two days left in the legislative session, lawmakers have to pay for it by passing one more piece of legislation that raises $3.5 billion in "non-tax revenue" and revises school finance law to allow the state to reduce aid to public schools by $4 billion.

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

It’s Rick Perry versus the nincompoops. That’s not a slap at the rest of the Republican field, but at the political chatterers who just can’t or won’t believe the Texas governor when he says he doesn’t want to run for president.

Nobody believes him, which makes it easier for some to contend that he is making a grab at the highest political office in the land.