Secretaries of State in Texas often go on to something else in politics. Bob Bullock became comptroller and then Lite Guv. Mark White was attorney general and governor. Ron Kirk was mayor of Dallas and U.S. Trade Representative. Henry Cuellar is in Congress. Tony Garza was on the Railroad Commission. John Hill was attorney general and a Texas Supreme Court Justice. Al Gonzales was U.S. Attorney General. It’s always been like that: Back at the start, David Burnet was the republic’s SOS and also served as its president.
More to the point, the office is often the most openly political operation attached to the state payroll. It’s occupants run elections. They stick close to their governors. And they generally have relatively short shelf lives. John Steen Jr. of San Antonio, named to the office this week to succeed Hope Andrade, is the seventh SOS since Rick Perry took over the office of governor 12 years ago.
Andrade, who took office in July 2008, had the longest tenure of that bunch. Steen, who has been an important fundraiser for the governor’s campaigns — he was a regional finance chair in the 2010 run against Kay Bailey Hutchison and then Democrat Bill White — isn’t a surprising pick. He’s been a Perry appointee to the Alcoholic Beverage and the Public Safety Commissions and his wife was an A&M Regent.
He wasn’t even the most surprising appointment of the week.
That trophy goes to Jeff Boyd, who was Perry’s chief of staff a minute ago and who now is on the way to an open seat on the Texas Supreme Court — the governor’s tenth appointee to that panel. He’ll join six other judges who got their start on the court with Perry appointments (they have to go on the ballot in the first general election after they’re appointed).
Ann Bishop (formerly Fuelberg) will be the new chief of staff. She’s been at the Employee Retirement System, the Department of Information Resources, and the comptroller’s office. If you’re scoring this one, think of a scale with legislative/political candidates at one end and agency/management/wonks at the other. If there are fireworks ahead, they’ll probably come from some other part of the governor’s office.