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Ross Ramsey

Ross Ramsey is executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, where he writes regular columns on politics, government and public policy. Before joining the Tribune, Ross was editor and co-owner of Texas Weekly. He did a 28-month stint in government as associate deputy comptroller for policy and director of communications with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Before that, he reported for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as its Austin bureau chief, and worked as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, writing for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ross got his start in journalism in broadcasting, covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.

Recent Contributions

Momentum vs. Victory

If you are a Republican and you want this messy thing to be over, now's the time to spin the tale that Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, has bagged the votes he needs to become the next speaker of the Texas House. But it's far too early for Craddick himself to say anything like that.

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He Did What?

Say this for him: Dan Morales can keep a secret. He's been saying for months that he was considering a race for U.S. Senate, and nobody we know of asked him if he was looking at any other offices. When he shocked the bejeebers out of everyone by filing for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, he changed the outlook for everyone at the top of his party's ticket.

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An Army of Speculators

The two youngest children of Sen. Jane Nelson kids are still in high school. That could turn out to be a real hitch in the getalong for someone who otherwise has a nice, clean (and rare) shot at a seat in the United States Congress. Nelson is probably the strongest in the Republican field to replace U.S. Rep. Dick Armey, R-Flower Mound.

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Folding Chairs

House Speaker Pete Laney has a handful of problems he didn't have just a week ago, ranging from the decisions of a dozen committee chairmen not to seek reelection, to the decision by a prominent Republican House member to endorse Laney's nemesis, Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland.

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A Map to a Decisive Republican Majority

Republicans think they'll be able to put as many as 90 people in the Texas House next year and as many as 19 in the Texas Senate because of the new maps drawn by a panel of three federal judges. That's a ground shift, and a big one, and it potentially carries the biggest prize in redistricting: The ability to draw the maps that will actually be used to elect members of Congress and the Texas Legislature for the rest of the decade.

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Is 2% Wrong Similar to 98% Right?

The U.S. Department of Justice–that same bunch that said a couple of weeks ago that they wouldn't be ready to say anything about the Texas House until the end of the month, uncorked a letter at midmonth that might change everything. Or, it might not.

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A Victory for Congressional Democrats

The three federal judges deciding which political maps will be used next year are making Texas Republicans nervous. The map for congressional districts—the first one out of the chute and the least important in terms of future politics in Texas—is a lot closer to what the Democrats wanted than to what the Republicans had hoped for.

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Plan 9 From Outer Space

The United States Department of Justice ducked behind the hedgerow, telling the federal judges in charge of Texas redistricting matters that the Bush Administration won't have anything to say about the state's maps for the Texas House of Representatives until the end of November.

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A Break from Taxes They Don't Levy

No, Virginia, there is no national sales tax, but politicians are politicians and tax holidays are popular gimmicks. Some of the politicos in Washington, DC, are talking about a national sales tax holiday that would hit right in the middle of the Christmas buying season. The idea is that the federal government would reimburse the states that have a pre-Christmas sales tax holiday. It's been the subject of conversation both in the national and state capitals, but the proposal is fraught with the sorts of pesky details that could easily sink it.

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Texas Uber Alles

A magazine ad for Land Commissioner David Dewhurst features a boast about his efforts to defend the Homeland, along with a photo of a German Air Force officer in front of an American flag.

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A Traffic Jam, Right on Schedule

This is the rush hour for redistricting, and the legal and political snags are just as nasty as everyone expected them to be. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are playing smash-mouth politics, as their legions would hope and expect, and the whining has reached a fever pitch.

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Chin Music

Sometimes a baseball pitcher will throw one on the outside of the plate to lure a batter closer, then follow it with a fast inside pitch to send the batter sprawling. If you've been watching Austin District Judge Paul Davis handle congressional redistricting plans, you can probably identify with that batter.

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At Last, a Congressional Redistricting Map

State District Judge Paul Davis is halfway done. He's drawn a congressional redistricting map that is now the starting point for other judges on the state and federal levels, and he'll begin hearings right away on maps for state Senate and House elections. That congressional map is the first with anything like an official seal of approval on it. The Legislature didn't pass a plan and the Legislative Redistricting Board didn't have jurisdiction on congressional plans. If it doesn't run into another judge with a crayon, Davis' map could actually be used to elect the next congressional delegation from Texas.

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Tentative Steps Forward

Politics came to a halt in Texas on Sept. 11 but while the play has since picked up, the landscape has changed. Until at least next spring, money is likely to be tight, messages will be difficult to craft and voters are less likely to be interested in state politics than they have been in recent years. Political tactics and strategy are changing and politicians are testing the new ground.

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September Primaries, Sans Voters

When Ann Richards was governor of Texas, two Republicans with political genes wanted to challenge her. But George W. Bush and Rob Mosbacher didn't want to slog through a bloody primary fight that would leave the winner too scarred to beat Richards in November 1994. They held a meeting on Mosbacher's turf, with a gaggle of reporters waiting outside. When they came out, Mosbacher said he would support Bush's gubernatorial bid. He later ran for mayor of Houston. Bush went on to beat Richards and their voter-free primary became a model for Texas politics.

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