Ross Ramsey — Click for higher resolution staff photos

Ross Ramsey is executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. He writes regular columns on politics, government and public policy. Before joining the Tribune, he was editor and co-owner of Texas Weekly. He did a 28-month stint in government with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Before that, he reported for the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Times Herald, as a Dallas-based freelancer for regional and national magazines and newspapers, and for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.

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Overt Operations: The Lite Guv Race

Forget all that stuff about the race for lieutenant governor being quiet, secretive, and completely underwater. Sen. David Sibley, R-Waco, has moved upstage with a whirlwind set of meetings with senators to tell them he'd like the job and to begin to try to build support.

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Where Republicans Will Hunt Next Year

Republicans in Texas have relied for years on a rating system called ORVS, or Optimum Republican Voting Strength, that combines results of recent elections to show which parts of the state are friendly to the GOP. The latest numbers are out, and while there are few surprises, the charts do provide something of a road map to the GOP's targets in the next election cycle.

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'Tis the Season to Spend Money

Some retailers will tell you the state's new sales tax holiday, patterned on similar promotions in New York and Florida, is a pain in the caboose. They have to reprogram cash registers, train staff and make other changes so that their customers can buy clothing under $100 and get a waiver on sales taxes for one weekend.

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Dog-piling, Grandstanding or Rescuing?

It'll take months to know which part of the headline is correct, but however it goes, you have to say that Carole Keeton Rylander took over the Texas School Performance Review with a bang. She returned -- uninvited -- to the room where she taught high school history years ago to say that she was going to send her staff and a team of consultants over to find out what ails the Austin school district.

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Other People's Money

With the notable exception of a certain campaign for president, the fundraising season is off to a slow start. You don't have to believe us -- the evidence can be found in the stacks on the tenth floor of the Sam Houston Building, where the Texas Ethics Commission keeps candidate reports on contributions and expenditures, and increasingly, on candidate borrowing.

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Big Numbers, Little Numbers

George W. Bush, who for fundraising purposes can be referred to as Godzilla, ended June with contributions of $37 million for the first half of the year, about $700,000 more than his campaign had estimated a couple of weeks ago. That means, among other things, that he'll give up federal matching funds and with them, the limits on how much he can spend during the primaries.

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A New and Improved Teflon Politician

Call it irony, call it blowback, call it what you'd like: George W. Bush takes a shot for hauling his state-paid protective detail all over the country during his presidential bid. That story, in the Austin American-Statesman, came within two days of stories about First Lady Hillary Clinton flying between Washington, DC, and New York state, where she has an exploratory committee for a U.S. Senate bid.

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That Giant Sucking Sound

If you've ever been in line behind someone who loaded up their plate with hors d'oeuvres and left nothing for you, you know how the Republican candidates for president feel about Gov. George W. Bush. Aside from the pure astonishment at the Texan's fundraising prowess, they have to reassess their own situations. He's raised so much money they have a hard time explaining their place in the Republican primary for president. It's probably no coincidence that several of the Republicans began talking in the last two weeks about running as Reform Party candidates or as independents.

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Surprise: Pauline Rescued from Train

In our last episode, an unforeseen problem in the massive school finance bill was threatening several bond issues from Texas school districts and prompting several others to calculate how much they'd have to raise their taxes to pay for facilities they previously thought would be paid for with state money. If this was the "Perils of Pauline," we're to the part where the good guys show up and pull her off the tracks before the train can run her down.

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