Vol 31, Issue 1 Print Issue

The Texas Weekly Hot List

The primaries are on, and our biennial Hot List is back, ranking the races by risk to the incumbents and/or the level of drama for candidates and voters. We'll add, subtract and change the rankings as the races develop.

Activists converge at the south steps of the Texas Capitol as the second special session begins July 1, 2013.
Activists converge at the south steps of the Texas Capitol as the second special session begins July 1, 2013.

For Some, It's Already the End of the Road

It's this time of year when politicians of all stripes learn if they have won the political equivalent of the lottery, which we will define as having avoided any major party challengers in the primary and general elections.

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

State Sen. Wendy Davis, in her first major policy proposal as a candidate for Texas governor, said that she would increase the supply of teachers and give them more money. But she didn't say how she'd pay for the new programs. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst gave lawmakers education-related interim charges that include studying technology's impact on higher education and evaluating public school students' writing scores on state assessments.

Oral arguments were made before a three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on the state's new abortion regulations. While Texas awaits a decision, the strict new rules that have forced some facilities to stop performing the procedure remain in effect.

A new PAC will allow Texans for Education Reform, which became a lobbying powerhouse during the 2013 legislative session, to put resources toward candidates for office.

After a contentious town hall meeting concerning the possible links between wastewater injection and a spate of North Texas earthquakes, locals said they cannot afford to wait for state regulators to address the issue. The Texas Railroad Commission later said it would hire a seismologist to research the link between earthquakes and disposal of oil and gas waste in injection wells.

U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, may have already begun receiving donations in Bitcoin since embracing the private virtual currency. That puts him firmly in a gray area of campaign finance law. Also, the Sunlight Foundation found $16,000 in donations that were made to Stockman's re-election campaign committee that the committee did not report.

A cold snap gripped much of Texas, leading to a brief threat of rolling blackouts. The state's electric grid operator to ask consumers to reduce their energy use and the feared outages never materialized. In related news, the Texas Oil and Gas Association, the state’s largest and oldest petroleum organization, told regulators it opposes an overhaul of the wholesale energy market. The new market design is intended to ensure enough capacity in the grid to make blackouts more infrequent.

Political People and their Moves

Julie Linn is stepping down as Gov. Rick Perry's education adviser to take over as executive director of Texans for Education Reform.

Dan Allen Hughes Jr. of San Antonio has been named the new chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission by Gov. Rick Perry. His term expires at the pleasure of the governor. In addition, Thomas "Dan" Friedkin of Houston was designated chairman emeritus of the commission.

Former Texas Secretary of State John T. Steen Jr. of San Antonio was named by Perry to a spot on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. His term expires on Aug. 31, 2019.

Chance Sampson has been hired as director of public affairs in the regulatory and public affairs division of Entergy Texas. He has served on the staffs of Comptroller Susan Combs and state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, as well as the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education under state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas.

Bo Gilbert was chosen as the Insurance Council of Texas' chairman of the board of directors. His term began Jan. 1. Also, Robert Zeman was elected vice chairman, Lyndell Haigood was elected treasurer and Tom Fitzpatrick was elected secretary.

Martha Zeiher has been named the Hill Country Land Trust's first executive director. The trust works in a 19-county area with landowners to preserve their property through land easements.

GOP U.S. Sen. candidate Ken Cope has named Greg Jessen, a Tea Party activist and political organizer in West Virginia, as his campaign manager.


Bill Abington, a four-term legislator from Fort Worth who later headed what is now the Texas Oil and Gas Association. He was 92.

Larry York, a former first attorney general under John Hill and former Texas Youth Commission chairman. He was 72.