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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

A Gathering of Elephants

The Republican Party of Texas expects to have a relatively smooth state convention: Nobody is throwing fits about positions taken by prominent state officeholders, nobody is opposing the reelection of Chairwoman Susan Weddington, and there haven't even been any juicy scandals lately. Expect something of a love fest when the GOP meets in Dallas this week.

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How Deep is this Ditch?

Either Tony Sanchez is 25 points behind Rick Perry, as a recent third-party poll shows, or he's 12 points behind–the margin he and his aides say they see in their own polling.

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Just Squint and Pretend It's Labor Day

The two richest candidates in Texas—Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez and Republican lieutenant governor candidate David Dewhurst—are using the most expensive kind of advertising to talk to voters in a move that might have less to do with votes than with resources.

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The Race for Second Place

Texas Democrat Tony Sanchez broke the suspense about whether a wealthy guy would run a normal campaign for governor. The answer is no, and the evidence is on television. With six long months to go before the general election–some states haven't even had their primaries yet–Sanchez loosed a blitz of advertising aimed, at least initially, at convincing voters he's a good guy.

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The Last Episode for the Political Sorting Hat

In the new districts drawn for the Texas House, and in those drawn for Texas seats in the U.S. House, there are several seats that voted for Republicans on average in 1998 while voting with the Democrats on closer races, like the one for comptroller. That's a measure of the coattail strength of then-Gov. George W. Bush. And it's useful if you're trying to figure out whether a seat that initially appears to belong to the Republicans is actually theirs. Bush's strength added as few as two percentage points to overall Republican numbers in some districts and as much as 16 percentage points in others.

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The Political Sorting Hat, Part 2

Most of the newly drawn House districts–105 of them–voted Republican when you average all of the statewide races together. But when you look only at the closest race on the ballot–the contest for comptroller between Republican Carole Keeton Rylander and Democrat Paul Hobby150;the numbers are much closer. In fact, the statewide averages were skewed by the huge margin of victory racked up by George W. Bush, in particular, and make the House districts look an average of 9 percent more Republican than the comptroller's race. In two dozen districts, the Republican statewide average was at or above 50 percent but the comptroller's race went to the Democrat.

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The Political Sorting Hat

Now that the primaries and runoffs are out of the way, some of the numbers are firming up. We'll save the prognostication for a bit so the real numbers and the imaginary ones don't get mixed.

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Dreams, Schmemes: Look at the Numbers

Our Department of Curious Statistics produced this nugget: More Democrats voted in the runoffs in Dallas and Tarrant Counties than voted in the primaries a month earlier. In Dallas County, 77,938 people voted in the Democratic Senate primary in March. In April, that number increased significantly, to 92,408. Tarrant County's numbers did the same hat trick, increasing to 39,094 in April from 36,812 in March. In Dallas, the additional voters broke almost two-to-one in favor of former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk. In Tarrant County, the numbers were more dramatic: The combination of increased turnout and the absence of Ken Bentsen and other candidates to dilute support put more than 5,900 additional votes in Kirk's column. Add in what happened in other counties, like Travis and Harris and Bexar, and you have strong evidence that Democrats are rebuilding their political infrastructure.

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What's Up, Doc?

Politicians don't like sitting around while other people are getting a bunch of attention, and that's as good an explanation as any for the early dustup in the governor's race. Gov. Rick Perry and his challenger, Tony Sanchez Jr., spent the week before a runoff that doesn't directly involve them taking potshots at each other. They started in the doctor's office and got all the way to prison by mid-week.

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Switch Hitters

A year ago, Dr. John Coppedge of Longview was one of the biggest supporters of Gov. Rick Perry in his part of the state. But they had a falling out over Perry's vetoes of the "prompt pay" legislation pushed by the Texas Medical Association.

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Two Fumbles on the Same Play

It's easier to get rid of fire ants than it is to kill rumors, but the latest news from Texas A&M; should subdue the latest gossip about the U.S. Senate seat now held by Phil Gramm. More importantly, it should be added to the lore about people in powerful positions botching easy opportunities.

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The President's Representative

A couple of Waco Republicans have turned a relatively quiet race for the Texas House of Representatives into a soap opera. Two Republicans seeking to represent a noteworthy chunk of McLennan County in the Texas Legislature have an unusual set of issues to debate: philandering, stalking, videotaping, ugly messages left on answering machines, kicked down doors, divorce and general fitness to hold office.

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Scorched Earth, Part 1

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez, criticized last year for raising questions about a political opponent's sexual proclivities, is running radio ads referring to a lawyer who helped Dan Morales on tobacco litigation as "an intimate friend" of the former attorney general.

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A Sea Change in the Senate?

Several Senate races are tight, or at least loud and vicious and interesting to watch. And if the political winds blow in a particular direction in the primaries and again in the general election, a handful of conservative Republicans could take seats in the upper chamber and quickly change the philosophical compass there. A group that includes Gary Polland of Houston, Tommy Williams of The Woodlands, Craig Estes of Wichita Falls, Bob Deuell of Greenville, Ed Harrison of Waxahachie and John Shields of San Antonio is knocking hard on the door. That's a collection that would make the Senate a great deal more conservative than it is now. Deuell's race is in November, against Sen. David Cain, D-Dallas; the five others are in primaries that are likely–because of the way the districts are drawn–to determine who'll win in November. Those districts all lean to the GOP.

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A Hoopla Deficit in Texas Politics

The standard line on early voting in Texas is that you have to treat it like Election Day. Scads of chads are punched before the official voting day in March, and candidates can win or lose a race well before they get to what has conventionally been the day of decision.

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