Ross Ramsey — Click for higher resolution staff photos

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

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.

Full Story 

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.

Full Story 

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.

Full Story 

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.

Full Story 

Politics on Hold

The suicide hijackings in New York City, Washington, D.C., and in rural Pennsylvania put an abrupt stop to what had been a suddenly busy political season in Texas. What seemed important on Monday was no longer worth attention by mid-morning on Tuesday.

Full Story 

A Disorderly Succession

There's nothing like the rare availability of a U.S. Senate seat to prove that few people in elected office are really happy with the offices they already occupy. After U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm announced that he will serve until the end of this term and then leave office, Texas turned into a political Field of Dreams. For the first 48 hours, every politico in Texas was on the phone, either checking to see about support for a promotion, or taking calls from friends who wanted support for a promotion.

Full Story 

Out of the Closet

The year-old campaign of A.R. "Tony" Sanchez Jr. is finally going public with a two-day flyaround that will start in Laredo and make stops in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston. That two-day announcement will be followed by a series of regional bus tours in different parts of Texas. The first will be held in South Texas, with stops including Corpus Christi and Brownsville.

Full Story 

The Trouble with Becky

The "Rebecca" flap at the Texas Railroad Commission is giving outsiders a rationale for campaigns against RRC Chairman Michael Williams and giving insiders a reason to fund those campaigns.

Full Story 

Changes at the Starting Gate

The Tony Sanchez Jr. campaign has its first casualty. The not-yet-declared Democratic gubernatorial candidate hired a veteran migrant political worker—Robin Rorapaugh—as his campaign manager earlier this year. But Rorapaugh, who started here before moving to Florida to work on campaigns there, is heading back to the Sunshine State.

Full Story 

Chaos Theory

Underneath the talk about how things are going for the new management in Washington, D.C., there is serious turbulence in the new management that was left behind in Austin. And the "Under New Management" sign that figuratively hangs over the Texas Capitol will remain in place for almost two more years.

Full Story 

While You Were Out

Message Slip Number One: Sen. David Sibley, the only Republican candidate for lieutenant governor with any legislative experience, dropped out of the race. He said, essentially, that his heart wasn't in it, but the way he said it was to point out that campaigning for a Senate seat is kind of fun, and campaigning for statewide office isn't the same. The Waco lawyer hasn't announced his next step, but he's got lots of options: Get out of office and get rich as a lawyer/lobbyist with close ties to the top executives in Washington, D.C. (Crawford, Texas, happens to be in Sibley's district, and he and President George W. Bush are friends), and Austin (after some initial jousting, Sibley and Gov. Rick Perry worked out an alliance that still holds). Sibley could run for reelection. He's been mentioned as a possible justice for the Texas Supreme Court, which has suddenly become a launch pad for statewide campaigns and federal appointments. He's been mentioned as a federal judicial appointee, and in fact, took the test for such a position before withdrawing his name so he could run for Lite Guv. Sibley's announcement leaves former Supreme Court Justice Greg Abbott and Land Commissioner David Dewhurst on the GOP side, and former Comptroller John Sharp and former U.S. Selective Service Director Gil Coronado on the Democratic side.

Full Story 

It Takes Two to (Uncomfortably) Tango

If you want to know why Carole Keeton Rylander showed up with an incomplete political map for the Texas Senate at the last Legislative Redistricting Board meeting, it helps to know that the map was, at one time, complete. But it was full of pairings and duets that West Texas Republicans couldn't stand, and so the comptroller decided to come in with a map for only 27 of the 31 Senate districts.

Full Story 

Why Doesn't Anybody Believe Phil Gramm?

Maybe this will turn out to be a case where the outlanders were caught telling scary stories around the campfire, but there sure are a lot of Democrats talking about challenging U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm. The list of names is growing even as Gramm says he has no intention of stepping down.

Full Story 

School Finance, Without Taxes

The upcoming school finance study could be a two-parter, with a special panel looking at everything except taxes and then and only then messing with taxes, and only if they must. That, according to Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, would separate the thicket of school funding formulas from the bramble of state taxes. Both are hairy problems, and they are interwoven, but Ratliff says he and House Speaker Pete Laney lean toward starting an interim study on school finance with taxes removed.

Full Story 

Weighing In, Finally

Nobody predicted Gov. Rick Perry would set a record by vetoing 82 bills at the end of the session, but neither should anyone be completely surprised. The tension between the governor and the Legislature has been unrelenting since the November elections. If nothing else, they leave the governor's mark on a session where he had previously had little impact.

Full Story