Morgan Smith reports on politics and education for the Tribune, which she joined in November 2009. She writes about the effects of the state budget, school finance reform, accountability and testing in Texas public schools. Her political coverage has included congressional and legislative races, as well as Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign, which she followed to Iowa and New Hampshire. In 2013, she received a National Education Writers Association award for "Death of a District," a series on school closures. After earning a bachelor's degree in English from Wellesley College, she moved to Austin in 2008 to enter law school at the University of Texas. A San Antonio native, her work has also appeared in Slate, where she spent a year as an editorial intern in Washington D.C.
UPDATED: An email from a lobbyist at one of the state's largest law firms suggests there may be efforts underway to persuade three second-place Republican primary finishers to withdraw from the May runoffs.
In an election year in which Hispanic voters are crucial to Democratic success, the first feud of the now-official general election gubernatorial matchup is being fueled by state Sen. Wendy Davis' primary performance on the border.Full Story
Republican primary races for lieutenant governor and attorney general are among several that are headed for runoffs this year in Texas. Check out the list of races that are set for the May 27 runoff ballot.Full Story
The East Texas town of Jasper has reached an $831,000 settlement in the federal discrimination lawsuit brought by its first black police chief after his 2012 firing.Full Story
Todd Staples' campaign began airing TV and radio ads Tuesday attacking fellow GOP lieutenant governor hopeful Dan Patrick over reports that illegal immigrants were hired to work at sports bars that Patrick owned in the 1980s.Full Story
A week before the March primary, all Republican candidates for lieutenant governor except Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples have dipped into personal financial resources to fill their coffers.
Representatives from 13 Tea Party groups across the state have pledged to stand with Dan Patrick "just as we stood with Ted Cruz in the face of unrelenting attacks from moderates and liberals." A former employee claimed this week that Patrick hired him and three other men while they were in the U.S. illegally in the 1980s.Full Story
How the Texas State Board of Education has handled its purview over curriculum standards has cropped up in three primary races that will likely determine who will join the board in January.
In a new TV ad, lieutenant governor hopeful Todd Staples' campaign frames the March Republican primary as a clear choice between Staples and incumbent David Dewhurst, painting Staples as the candidate who fought to reduce state spending and challenge Obama administration regulations.Full Story
The Dan Patrick campaign on Thursday released a new television spot highlighting the state senator's Christian values. In the 30-second ad, the Houston Republican tells viewers that he is "a Christian first, a conservative second and a Republican third."Full Story
In a new statewide television ad for his re-election campaign, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst highlights his record of tax breaks and job creation while in office.Full Story
Urging "a more compassionate, understanding, and knowledgeable tone" in discussing immigration issues, state Rep. Jason Villalba has penned an open letter to his GOP colleagues currently locked in a four-way primary race for lieutenant governor.Full Story
The latest web video from the David Dewhurst campaign features an animated recording of a phone call the lieutenant governor made to Sean Hannity's radio show.Full Story