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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

Musical Chairs in San Antonio

Handicapping the Senate race in San Antonio? Trying to figure out where everyone will be sitting when the music stops? You can tell what at least some of the political folks in that city are thinking, just by the fact that only one House seat -- the one now occupied by Rep. Leticia Van de Putte -- has drawn really active interest from candidates who want her job. So far, the seat that would be left open if Rep. Leo Alvarado Jr. wins the special election to replace Sen. Gregory Luna has drawn some tire-kickers but no sure-fire buyers, while the candidates looking at the Van de Putte seat are already working the district and the local lobby and the finance people and the Austin crowd.

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Arenas for Some -- Civics for Everybody

If you don't live in San Antonio or Houston or a handful of other places that have sports arenas and Senate races and other interesting issues before the voters, the November ballot offers up a treat only a civics proctor could love: 17 constitutional amendments that, for the most part, don't even offer the thrill of controversy or everyday relevance.

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Humans on the Arena Ballot

Sen. Gregory Luna's decision to retire from his seat, and to do so in time to allow a November 2 election, prompted a week of political scurrying and speculating in the San Antonio Democrat's district. The final take on who's running and who's not will be available at 5 p.m. October 4 (after our deadline). But Gov. George W. Bush's decision to hold the vote in November sets up a sprint that will be harder on political newcomers than on veteran officeholders.

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Friendly Fire

When Gov. George W. Bush took office in 1995, he was half-surrounded by Democrats in statewide offices and could reasonably expect to fight some skirmishes now and then. Now that he's surrounded by Republicans, you might think those days are all in the past. But from the governor's standpoint, the education task force announced by Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander rivals at least some of what the Democrats did in his first four years in the Mansion.

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That Suit Didn't Fit, But the Tailors are Busy

If this was a television drama, Gov. George W. Bush might have been ordered to give a deposition to tell what he knew about the Texas Funeral Commission's efforts to fine the nation's biggest funeral home operator. But it ain't TV and he wasn't so ordered. The state's attorneys argued that he didn't have any special knowledge that would shed light on the whistle-blower case, and that was that.

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To Focus a Politician's Attention

If you've ever tried to peel a kid away from a computer game or a Saturday morning cartoon, you understand something about the hold population data has on the average state or federal legislator. We're heading into that twilight zone known as a redistricting year. That explains, in part, why there are so few open seats in the Legislature right now. It explains why rural lawmakers are fidgety and why suburban Republicans are smirking, and it explains why some of the money people on both sides are probably going to stay out of campaign fights as much as possible next year.

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Rumors, Traps and Frivolous Lawsuits

A common explanation of cancer treatment is that they hit you for months with large doses of something fatal, and if it kills the cancer before it kills you, you're cured. That serves as a nice metaphor for presidential politics: If you survive the examination and treatment by your opponents, the media and the public, you get to live in the White House.

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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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