From Travis County Republican voters selecting a jester hat-wearing conspiracy theorist to lead their local party to a Texan member of Congress telling Donald Trump to shove his border wall where the sun doesn't shine, there was plenty for The Texas Tribune to report on in 2016.
Explore some of our most-read stories from 2016:
As feds plan to cut border monitoring, Texas officials ask why (Feb. 1): To the surprise of some Texas officials earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to reduce its aerial surveillance on the Texas-Mexico border. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat, wrote a letter asking federal officials to explain themselves. “Given the recent surge of migrants from Central America and Cuba along the southern border, we believe DHS should request more surveillance and security resources, not fewer,” they wrote.
- Travis county GOP apoplectic over new chairman (March 2): Perhaps the biggest surprise on election night during the March primaries came from a down-ballot Republican race in blue Travis County, where voters selected Robert Morrow to become the new chairman of the county party. Morrow, for his part, spent election night "tweeting about former Gov. Rick Perry’s sexual orientation and former President Bill Clinton’s penis." Morrow, known for his conspiracy theories, was a contentious figure during his short-lived chairmanship. Gov. Greg Abbott said, "Robert Morrow in no way speaks for the Republican Party or its values," and the local Republican party stripped him of most of his powers. In the end, Morrow accidentally lost the chairmanship when he filed to run as a write-in candidate for president of the United States — a contest in which he received fewer than 150 votes.
- Texas congressman to Trump: "Take your border wall and shove it up your ass" (June 6): Shortly after Trump clinched the Republican nomination, U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela had some choice words for Trump in a letter he sent to the real estate mogul regarding one of Trump's more well-known campaign promises. "Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass," Vela, a Democrat from Brownsville, wrote. He later quipped on MSNBC: "Well, I would have liked to have spoken in a much more diplomatic fashion, but I felt like I had to speak to Donald Trump in language he understands." Trump's promise to build a wall on the southern U.S. border (and make Mexico pay for it) got considerable airtime in the election this year, but not all Texas Republicans have supported the idea.
- Can Texas legally secede from the United States? (June 24): After the so-called "Brexit," many Texans wondered again if Texas secession was possible. The short answer: No. The longer answer: Definitely no. Despite the finality of that answer in the 1800s, the leader of the Texas Nationalist Movement argues that "polling has shown that Texas independence has consistently been the choice of a majority of Republicans." But a Supreme Court case in 1869 held that states could not unilaterally secede. Here's what is possible: Texas has the right to split itself into five smaller states. But it can't split from the union.
- George P. Bush, a Trump holdout, urges support for nominee (Aug. 7): Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — the man Donald Trump relentlessly skewered in the Republican primaries — asked Texas Republicans to support Trump in August. "From Team Bush, it's a bitter pill to swallow, but you know what? You get back up and you help the man that won, and you make sure that we stop Hillary Clinton," he said. This came after months of Trump mocking the younger Bush's father, calling him a "lightweight," "not a smart man" and, most famously, "low energy." What made George P. Bush's endorsement all the more surprising was the fact that Jeb Bush never endorsed Trump. Neither did former presidents George W. Bush or George H.W. Bush.