Campaign Chatter

State Rep. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, is all but certain to run for the Texas Senate seat currently occupied by Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. He says he'll make a formal announcement sometime in August. That seat came out of redistricting with a stronger Republican tang than when it entered; Davis contends the new map illegally denies minority voters the chance to elect a candidate of their choice. If it holds, Hancock is in and Davis might be looking for another place to run. Asked who else is looking, Hancock says simply, "It doesn't matter."

State Rep. Jim Jackson, R-Carrollton, who was a Dallas County commissioner before coming to the Texas House, won't come back in 2013. He's decided not to seek reelection. Jackson was a commissioner for 30 years and will have been a House member for eight at the end of this term.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, was the first (as far as we know) to throw his name into the hat for Ron Paul's seat in Congress. Taylor says people are encouraging him to look at that race.

Paul announced this week that he won't seek reelection because he wants to spend all of his time on a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. His congressional district was dramatically redrawn and while he says he isn't crazy about the new map, he says it's not the reason he decided to quit.

Sen. Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, says he's considering a run for Congress in 2012, which could open a rare seat in the Texas Senate. He's looking at CD-36, which goes from Harris and Chambers counties up into East Texas. He's not completely in, saying a decision is going to be subject to what the courts do in lawsuits over the new maps.

Freshman Rep. James White, R-Lufkin, lives in that new congressional district but says his eyes are on winning in a newly drawn House district that loses three of his current counties and adds four where he's never campaigned. He's not likely to run against Jackson.

Former Rep. Gary Walker, R-Plains, plans to run for the Texas House seat currently occupied by freshman Rep. Jim Landtroop, R-Plainview.

Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, hasn't announced whether he'll seek reelection next year, but he's got bogies on his tail. Attorney and former Mayor Joey Seeber, who considered running last time when Berman was talking about a gubernatorial bid, says he's got a continuing interest in public service. His powder, in other words, is dry. Matt Schaefer, the regional rep for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, has already declared. He's a former aide to then-U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, to U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock, and to state Rep. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock. Schaefer is from West Texas but went to school and now lives in East Texas.

State Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, is giving up his spot in the Texas House to run for the U.S. House in a newly created congressional seat that runs from Bexar County north to Travis County. He'll face U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, who's moving into that new district because his old district was redrawn to favor a Republican.

Old news, but if you're keeping score: Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, plans to seek election to the Texas Railroad Commission instead of to the Texas House next year. His early decision saved somebody in the West Texas delegation from getting paired with another incumbent. Fred Brown, R-Bryan, resigned at the end of the special session and there will be a special election to fill his seat.

First Election Stop: San Antonio

That exhibition of musical chairs is contingent on the outcomes of several lawsuits filed against this or that piece of the new political maps drawn by the Legislature earlier this year.

Three suits were filed in San Antonio, another in Austin, another in Sherman, another (in state court instead of federal) in McAllen. The latest lawsuit, expected to be filed Friday (15 July) in San Antonio, comes from state Rep. Marc Veasey, D- Fort Worth, and a group calling itself the "Fair Texas Plaintiffs." They contend the congressional redistricting plan approved by the Legislature cuts into minority voting rights in Tarrant County and other areas of the state. Among their arguments:

• Texas gets four new seats because of state growth driven by minorities; the legislative map creates four new seats "controlled by Anglo Republican voters."

• Anglos make up 45 percent of the Texas population but Anglo voters have the strongest voice in 70 percent of the congressional seats.

• Only one seat north of Austin is controlled by minority voters although 2.1 million Latinos and African-American voters live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The first round in the courts will decide venue, and it looks like a semi-safe bet to say everything is headed for a three-judge panel in San Antonio that includes Judge Jerry Smith of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Xavier Rodriguez and Orlando Garcia, both federal judges in San Antonio (Rodriguez was an appointee to the Texas Supreme Court, but didn't survive the election that followed that appointment).

Those judges have three of the cases in hand and told the attorneys to be ready for trial on September 6. Candidates start filing in November under a new state law that moved up the deadlines by a month; the courts hope to have legal maps in place — those drawn by the Legislature or some improved versions — before candidates have to sign up.

The Ron Paul Rumpus

Post GOP debate interview with U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, on June 14, 2011.
Post GOP debate interview with U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, on June 14, 2011.

Party leadership said the "closely held" news was a "shock," but it didn't take long for the line to start forming after U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Surfside, announced that he would not be seeking re-election, opting instead to focus on his bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, issued a statement saying, "Congressman Paul's announcement today not to seek re-election has created a rare opportunity for public service at the national level." He indicated that he's considering it "very seriously."

Former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Beaumont, will do the same. The name of another Democrat, Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski, has also been batted around.

Three Libertarians quickly announced their desire to carry the torch for Paul, who ran for president on the Libertarian ticket in 1988. These include Beaumont real estate agent Amy Jacobellis, Galveston engineering consultant Bob Smither and Dallas attorney Eugene Flynn.

Beaumont attorney Michael Truncale, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee, announced the formation of an exploratory committee which includes Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, and Allan Ritter, R-Nederland.

Another name in the mix is Debra Medina, the vocal Paul supporter who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2010. But she says the recently redrawn congressional maps cut her out of Paul's district, the 14th. While she said she would have considered a run to take his place, it's doubtful now, given the new lines.

Medina will be on the campaign trail, if for no other reason than to support Paul's presidential campaign. "I cherish the relationship that I have with him, and the leadership and guidance that he provides to me and others who are determined to restore a constitutional republic," she said. "I'm not sure what road that will take us down, but I will speak on his behalf every chance I get."

Paul has repeatedly said that the change to his district was not a major force in his decision-making. When the maps, complete with a 14th District that looked difficult for him to win, were unveiled, a spokesman denied that the congressman was fazed. "If anything, this is a compliment," Jesse Benton said. "The GOP knows Dr. Paul will win anywhere he runs, and that his electoral fortitude allows them to strengthen other districts and have no problems holding the 14th."

That theory won't be put to the test, however. One person who thinks he might have had a shot at Paul: Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont. Following Paul's announcement, he tweeted the following (using a special service to skirt the 140-character limit):

"New Dist 14 is 55% Republican. If Ron Paul would have been the sure Republican Nominee. I could have beat him because of crossover vote in Jeff County. However I would have been a one termer once a traditional Republican became nominee next time around. So I had decided to stay put, if the good people of District will give me the honor again. I also think there is a significant democratic undercount in Galv County as people continue to move back after Hurrican[e] IKE."

This Will Be on the Test

Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade announcing the launch of the 2010 census in Texas
Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade announcing the launch of the 2010 census in Texas

In a little celebrated — in fact, hardly noticed — biennial Texas tradition, voters will decide the fate of 10 new proposed constitutional amendments in November.

The amendments are the newest in a long line of legislative proposals to update the state Constitution. Since it was ratified in 1876, Texas voters have considered 646 proposed amendments and approved 467, according to the Legislative Reference Library. Texas is not alone in its prodigious accumulation of constitutional amendments, however. Alabama leads that contest. Its voters, according to Texas Politics, have amended their constitution almost 800 times since its creation in 1901.

This week, Secretary of State Hope Andrade conducted a lottery that determined the order of the 10 new proposals on the November ballot. Each amendment already won approval from two-thirds of the House and Senate and now needs a nod from a majority of the voters.

Here's the rundown:

SJR 14, which aims to ease the financial burden on spouses of totally disabled veterans. It would allow the Legislature to exempt the surviving spouses of 100-percent disabled veterans from property taxes on all or part of the market value of their home. 

SJR 4, which would allow the Texas Water Development Board to issue bonds for projects that will eventually become self-sustaining. The board, which has a zero default rate, issues bonds for water infrastructure projects. The amendment would allow the board to issue a maximum of $6 billion at any time.

SJR 50 would allow the state to issue general obligation bonds to finance student loans.

HJR 63 would allow counties to issue bonds to finance the development of transportation reinvestment zones. Such zones allow cities to use certain property tax revenues to build roads and other transportation projects in that area. Currently, cities are able to issue transportation reinvestment zone bonds, but it has been unclear whether counties have the authority to do so.

SJR 26, which would make it easier and cheaper for cities or counties to enter into multi-year interlocal contracts — agreements between government agencies to share budgets. Right now, if a city or county wants to partner with another on a project, it has to create a special tax and a special debt fund for that project.

HJR 109 proposes clarifying references to the Permanent School Fund, a pot of money generated from the sale of state property that goes to Texas public schools. It would allow the General Land Office to distribute revenue from the fund, and it would increase the market value of the permanent school fund, allowing schools to get more money. 

SJR 28 would allow El Paso to be included in the list of counties authorized to create conservation and reclamation districts. With the amendment, El Paso County could use tax revenue to develop parks and recreational facilities. 

SJR 16 would create an open-space tax exemption for water stewardship. Open-space is land zoned for preservation of natural resources, and historically, open space in Texas has been used for farming or timber. The amendment would add water stewardship, or conservation, to the list, providing extra incentive for individuals to conserve the 90 percent of state water that flows through privately owned land.

SJR 9 deals with the governor's authority to pardon individuals who receive deferred adjudication. People sentenced to deferred adjudication are given probation-like conditions, and if they complete the program successfully, a judge can dismiss the charges. Currently, the governor can only pardon convicted individuals, but the authority does not extend to those who have deferred adjudication. The governor would only be able to issue a pardon with the recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles and in criminal cases excluding treason and impeachment.

SJR 37 would align the state's resign-to-run laws with the new primary election filing dates. Currently, elected officials can only keep their jobs if they file for other offices with less than one year left in their current terms. But during the legislative session, lawmakers moved the primary election filing deadline from Jan. 2 to mid-December to accommodate military and overseas voters. That would force some elected officials to resign from their current posts to file for candidacies for other offices. The amendment would change the length of unexpired term from one year to one year and 30 days.

Lawyers, Guns and Money

The Department of Justice's decision this week to require firearms dealers in Texas and three other border states to report the multiple sales of long rifles will come down to a funding battle in Washington.

The policy would require firearms dealers in Texas, New Mexico, California and Arizona to furnish reports to the federal government when they sell two or more long rifles (over .22 caliber) in a five-day period. It's the same policy already in place for handguns. Proponents say it would crack down on the illicit flow of firearms to Mexico.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives attempted to implement the policy earlier this year, but the National Rifle Association and pro-gun lawmakers stalled the proposal.

Like they did when the proposal was first announced, opponents of the measure have offered an amendment to kill the measure. The pending legislation, which passed the U.S. House Appropriations Committee this week, contains an amendment by U.S. Rep. Danny Rehberg, R-Montana, that would prohibit the ATF from requiring licensed firearm dealers to report to the agency the multiple sales of rifles.

Gov. Rick Perry entered the fray this week, arguing that the proposal "singles out" border states and that the measure would "have little or no impact on the Mexican cartels." The debate is sure to have Democrats calling out their GOP counterparts on what they feel is a double standard. Several Republican lawmakers, including members of the Texas congressional delegation, frequently accuse the Obama administration of failing to secure the borders and crack down on transnational crime. Some Democrats argue that reporting these gun sales would be a decent first step.

If Perry decides to run for president, he is likely to turn focus away from the administration's claim that the policy is intended to curb the flow of weapons. Instead, look for the governor to try to prove the measure is another example of government overreach and an erosion of constitutional guarantees.

Judgment Day

Sophomore student Miguel Nava works on a science experiment at the San Juan Idea Public Schools Tuesday morning in San Juan, Texas November 23, 2010.
Sophomore student Miguel Nava works on a science experiment at the San Juan Idea Public Schools Tuesday morning in San Juan, Texas November 23, 2010.

There's a day in July that school districts eye with a mixture of anticipation and dread. This year, it's on the 29th, when the Texas Education Agency will publicly release the accountability ratings for the state's more than 1,000 districts.

Scores on standardized tests factor heavily into the ratings, which categorize schools as "Exemplary," "Recognized," "Acceptable" and "Unacceptable" based on financial and academic performance. Districts have already received their test scores privately, so they largely know what's coming. But whether or not they expect to explain low or decreased ratings to angry parents and taxpayers, there's an added complication this time around.

Last summer, prior to the ratings release, the education community was in uproar as news broke that the formulas the TEA used to calculate ratings included a mechanism that falsely boosted student test scores. Instead of using a student's actual score on a test, the TEA factored in what was called the Texas Projection Measure, which gauged students' future test scores based on a campus-wide average. After a flurry of harsh public criticism led by Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, and the vice chairman of the House Public Education Committee, the agency decided to release districts' ratings with and without the measure. Though TEA chief Robert Scott suggested he might discontinue the measure, he didn't give districts the final word until April 22 of this year, when he told superintendents that their 2011 ratings would not include it. 

"This was a difficult decision, but given the public opposition to using a projection measure, including a unanimous vote against further use of test score projections during recent floor debate of the Texas House of Representatives on House Bill 500, I decided that stopping the use of the TPM was necessary to preserve the integrity of the accountability system and public education as a whole," he wrote in a letter with that date.

All of this comes at a time when many school leaders will be approaching voters about raising local property tax rates to help cushion the blow of the $4 billion reduction in state revenue. Jackie Lain, an associate executive director at the Texas Association of School Boards, said that the lack of public explanation about how the measure would affect accountability ratings from the TEA put districts in a difficult position. 

"Districts are facing this real dilemma," she said. "They have in some cases significantly lower accountability ratings they will have to explain to their community." She said the message they will have to deliver in response is complicated: that in most cases, it's not that their achievement has changed — rather, the way the ratings are calculated has changed. 

Hochberg said he wasn't worried about districts' transition to sans-TPM accountability ratings because superintendents have known what to expect when they received both ratings last summer. He added: "The measure was only used for about two years, and so this is not an earth-shattering sort of change. The ratings released show what students actually do, not what they were predicted to do."

Inside Intelligence: If Perry Runs for President...

This week, we asked the insiders about the presidential race, about how the governor's record will play in a national race, about how Texas will get treated, and about what Texas issues will be a big deal if Rick Perry runs for president. On that last question, 70 percent picked education, 60 percent predicted the state budget will come up, 41 percent said immigration, and 28 percent chose criminal justice. Almost half — 44 percent — took the "other" route, with many of them mentioning the state's business climate and jobs.

The full set of verbatim answers is attached, as always, but we've cherry-picked a few of the comments below.

What in the governor's record as a Texas officeholder will become fodder in a national race (positively or negatively)?

• "Health & Human Services spending; Death penalty questions; education."

• "I think some of his right wing lurches in rhetoric will hurt him. Secession. The fact that he packs heat while jogging (or so he claims re coyote)..."

• "The record budget deficit which occurred during his watch as Governor. Also, the teenage pregnancy rate and school dropout will be negatives."

• "Nothing. The Teflon Man has weathered Gardasil and another ten missteps and has never stumbled."

• "Ties to lobbyists. Using stimulus money to balance budget. $10,000 a month house. All have to do with fiscal responsibility and all run counter to his TEA Party Crusader image."

• "The sources of his income and the extent of interconnections between his vetoes and personal investments."

• "The campaign will be dominated by Perry talking about the Texas economy and those opposed to him trying to tear down that story. In the end it will come down to silly things like people talking about his hair."

• "People care about jobs and the economy. Gov. Perry has had a laser like focus on jobs, jobs, jobs. It's worked."

• "Inappropriate influence of insiders with regard to the Enterprise Fund."

• "Not funding student enrollment growth even though there was money in the Rainy Day Fund."


What Texas issues or problems or recent history will get national attention if Gov. Rick Perry enters the presidential race?

• "The no-new-revenue budget and the Rainy Day Fund balance will be hotly debated, with varying interpretations of Texas' fiscal strength."

• "Two major budget deficits under his leadership, so how does he plan to clean it up in DC when he can't even do it in his own state."

• "Structural problem in tax/school finance system."

• "Uninsured"

• "His $10,000 a month rental house. We don't care, but nationally it will make people pause since he is suppose to be the fiscal savior."

• "Willingham case"

• "Religiosity, ethics, and his awesomeness at killing varmints whilst jogging with armed guards"

• "Governor Perry would be very upset you left job creation off the list. Did you know Texas created more jobs over the past three years than the rest of the country combined?? Of course you do! He only mentions it every other minute. The cuts to an already underfunded education system will be the Democrats point of attack."


Will the national attention on Texas have any effect on campaigns for federal and local offices here?

• "Sucking out a whole lot of money that will be needed down ballot."

• "May force local candidates to take positions on national issues, either supporting or opposing whatever Perry is doing."

• "Yes, Rick Perry running for Pres. will increase GOP turnout in urban areas which could affect primary elections and general elections."

• "Unlike the last time this happened (Texan for Pres), it will not be a statewide bipartisan kumbayah, but just the opposite, which is a reflection of the national mood."

• "The next cycle will be nationalized no matter what Rick Perry does."

Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Cathie Adams, George Allen, Jay Arnold, Charles Bailey, Walt Baum, Eric Bearse, Leland Beatty, Dave Beckwith, Rebecca Bernhardt, Allen Blakemore, Steve Bresnen, Chris Britton, Andy Brown, Kerry Cammack, Snapper Carr, John Colyandro, Hector De Leon, Kate Doner, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Jeff Eller, Jack Erskine, Alan Erwin, Jon Fisher, Kyle Frazier, Scott Gilmore, Eric Glenn, Michael Grimes, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Albert Hawkins, Adam Haynes, Jim Henson, Ken Hodges, Laura Huffman, Deborah Ingersoll, Carl Isett, Richie Jackson, Cal Jillson, Mark Jones, Robert Kepple, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, James LeBas, Donald Lee, Ruben Longoria, Vilma Luna, Matt Mackowiak, Bryan Mayes, Dan McClung, Steve Murdock, Craig Murphy, Keir Murray, Keats Norfleet, Sylvia Nugent, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, John Pitts, Royce Poinsett, Bill Ratliff, Karen Reagan, Carl Richie, Jason Sabo, Mark Sanders, Jim Sartwelle, Stan Schlueter, Steve Scurlock, Bradford Shields, Dee Simpson, Ed Small, Todd Smith, Jason Stanford, Keith Strama, Bob Strauser, Colin Strother, Russ Tidwell, Bruce Todd, Trey Trainor, Ware Wendell, Darren Whitehurst, Ellen Williams, Peck Young.


The Week in the Rearview Mirror

State budget cuts became tangible this week with the announcement that the Texas Education Agency plans to lay off 178 employees, following a first round of layoffs and attrition totaling 165 workers. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has also announced it will be laying off more than 100 people, forced by a 21 percent budget cut. Statewide, the Legislative Budget Board estimates that the final budget will force about 5,700 state worker layoffs.

Texas teachers can’t catch a break. With current teachers worrying about layoffs, retired teachers now face cuts to their health care trust funds. The fund was created in 1985 to bridge the gap between employment and Medicare for teachers who retire early. It’s funded by contributions from teachers, school districts and the state, which are expected to fall based on layoffs and reduced state spending. The fund, in fact, is already showing a deficit for the current fiscal year. By the time the Legislature convenes again, it may have to consider changes to the program, including benefit changes or premium increases.

After struggling for years, the North Forest Independent School District is set to be closed next July. Education Commissioner Robert Scott announced in a letter to the district that its accreditation was being revoked and it would be shut down. The Texas Education Agency managed the district from 2008 to 2010 but was forced by state law to step aside after two years, turning control back to the local school board and superintendent. Nothing seemed to make a difference in student test scores, and after the latest dismal ratings, the state decided to close the 7,500-student district and recommend that it be incorporated into the nearby Houston ISD.

Another casualty of Texas’ record drought: lakes. Water levels in 109 lakes monitored across the state dropped 4 percent in just one month, according to a Texas Water Development Board report. The end of June saw the lakes down 13 percent from a year ago and only one monitored reservoir, Lake Livingston, listed as full. Businesses around the lakes have seen a corresponding drop with the closing of boat ramps in response to the lower levels.

Even after taking criticism from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the United Nations' top human rights official, Gov. Rick Perry stood by his decision to let the execution of Humberto Leal Jr. proceed. In a case that drew heated international debate, lawyers said Leal, convicted of raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl, hadn't been informed of his right to seek legal help from the Mexican consulate, as granted by the U.N.'s Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

In spite of the state’s contentious relationship with the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 100 plants reached an agreement with federal authorities to receive new permits. The EPA had declared that the state’s flexible permitting process violated federal rules, forcing companies to deal directly with the feds if they wanted to continue their operations without being threatened by a new permitting process. The state of Texas still contends that its permitting process is both legal and pro-business, and has filed suit against the EPA.

As the federal government seeks to phase out incandescent bulbs in favor of the more energy-efficient compact fluorescent model, state lawmakers hope to give Texans the opportunity to continue using the bulbs by skirting the interstate commerce authority of the federal government. The new measure, which the Legislature passed this session, states that if bulbs are made and sold within the borders of Texas, they are not subject to federal regulation.

Political People and their Moves

Barry Smitherman resigned his post as chairman of the Public Utility Commission, and Gov. Rick Perry quickly appointed him to the Texas Railroad Commission. He says he will run for election to the office — he's not a placeholder — and he demurred when asked if he thinks it's a good idea to merge his new agency with his old one. That's on the Sunset Advisory Commission's plate for the next legislative session, after lawmakers left that question unanswered this year.

Ted Cruz picked up endorsements from George P. Bush and from the Hispanic Republicans of Texas for his bid for U.S. Senate. He's hoping to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison, who's not seeking reelection next year.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Michael "Mike" Hughes of Ingram, the former owner of the Broken Arrow Ranch, to the Upper Guadalupe River Authority's board

Press corps moves, part 2: In last week's episode, Robert Wood moved from the Texas State Network, where he's been reporting for radio stations around the state, to the Texas Association of Business. Fear not. Scott Braddock is coming to Austin from Dallas next month to take the TSN job and to report for several Austin radio stations.

Quotes of the Week

At 27 years old, I knew that I had been called to the ministry. I've just always been really stunned by how big a pulpit I was gonna have. I still am. I truly believe with all my heart that God has put me in this place at this time to do his will.

Gov. Rick Perry, at a private fundraising event in May, according to a transcript obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

He doesn't offend the whole broad spectrum of economic and social conservatives. He's just the right person at the right time at the right place.

Susan Weddington, former chairwoman of the Republican Party of Texas, on Gov. Rick Perry's potential presidential candidacy.

[Prayer and fasting] are not only an ineffectual use of time and government resources, but which can be harmful or counterproductive as a substitute for reasoned action.

A spokesman for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group suing to stop Gov. Rick Perry's August prayer event from taking place, in the Austin-American Statesman.

I certainly don't think Rick Perry is the anti-education governor. I just think that some of the proposals he and some of his appointees are suggesting seem to be overly simplistic solutions to very complex issues.

Former UT regent Scott Caven, a member of the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, on the governor's approach to higher education reform.

Redistricting is about politicians looking for jobs.

State Rep. James White, R-Lufkin.

Nothing against Landtroop. I just want people in District 88 to know there is an alternative.

Gary Walker, a former Republican House member who intends to challenge Rep. Jim Landtroop, R-Plainview, to the Amarillo Globe-News.

Every agency in state government that is an executive branch agency is exactly that. I can't say we are more or less aligned with the governor than any other governor in state history.

Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott on the influence of the governor on his shop.

Not guilty is not the same as innocent.

Former Gov. Mark White, discussing the death penalty at a Texas Tribune panel following a documentary about Cameron Todd Willingham.

I never hated him. I was never angry at him.

Rais Bhuiyan, who was shot in the head by gunman Mark Stroman during a massacre at a Dallas convenience store that killed three people, on why he is suing the state of Texas to halt Stroman's execution.

Look, to beat a gazillionaire is going to take a lot of money.

U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz, on the prospect of facing Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a March primary.