Elise Hu — Click for higher resolution staff photos

Elise Hu

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The Best Political Video Moments of 2010

Politics, like football, is a full-contact sport — and the 2010 election was filled with the kind of brawling you would expect. It also had plenty of bizarre moments of the sort that make the rest of the nation believe Texas really is a different country.

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Interactive: Committee Chairs

All the schmoozing and strategizing involved in seeking the job of House Speaker is worth it come February, when the leader of the lower chamber gets to choose the chairmen of committees, who have the power to stop, slow or speed legislation through the process. Click the tabs on this interactive table to see what the chairmanships looked like in 2009 and who’s coming back to the House in 2011.

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HuTube: Gohmert on "Overt Homosexuality"

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, speaks out against "don't ask, don't tell" with a story about his time in the military — when an “overt homosexual” soldier misread a signal, apparently, and went to the wrong “straight” soldier’s bunk.

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 Bob Daemmrich

Him Again

State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, wasn’t expected back at the Capitol this session after seeking two high-profile higher education jobs over the summer. But both opportunities fizzled, and now the 70-year-old says he’s “gunned up and ready to go” for his seventh term in the Senate — even if he'll return with clout resembling that of a freshman. He’s without the aides who knew him best and stripped of the Jurisprudence Committee he used to chair. Still, his insistence on putting his own political views ahead of his party's could make him a key player at a time when Senate Republicans are a few votes short of a two-thirds majority.

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The Defectors

After announcing they were defecting from the Democratic Party, state Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, and state Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg, were welcomed by Texas Republican leaders at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

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TWIA Chief: I Cannot Defy Court Order

An ongoing proxy war between tort reformists and trial lawyers spilled into a joint House-Senate hearing Monday, as Texas Windstorm Insurance Association General Manager Jim Oliver told lawmakers he still cannot disclose sought-after attorneys fees details in a multimillion-dollar settlement with Hurricane Ike homeowners.

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 Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.

Gone With the Wind?

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association offers homeowners along the Texas coast their only coverage against potential hurricanes. But some lawmakers say the pool is paying out too much — and they want to limit what sort of coverage it offers in the future.

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 Illustration by Todd Wiseman

The Way Forward

Six weeks after the drubbing their party took at the hands of voters, surviving Texas House Democrats find themselves at a crossroads — on style and substance, politics and policy. With massive budget cuts looming, will they effectively sit out the session and force Republicans in the majority to have all the blood on their hands? Will they participate just enough to soften the blow in the areas they care about the most: education and health care? Can they hold together a solid 51-vote bloc on key legislation? Where exactly should they go from here? And who will lead them?

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 Bob Daemmrich

Single White Female

The force of the GOP wave in November was so strong that black Republicans and Latino Republicans outnumber the Texas House's new endangered species: the white Democratic woman. And if the 16-vote victory of state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, doesn't survive a recount, the species will be extinct.

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Chamber of Secrets

It's orientation week for the largest incoming class of House members since the early '70s. Before their work begins in January, they're learning how things work in the pink building — and drawing balls to see who gets the most seniority.

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