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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

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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Greg Abbott as Plaintiff

When a 75-foot oak tree snapped and fell, crippling a jogger named Greg Abbott in July 1984, he did what most Texans would do: He sued the owner of the tree. A few months later, Abbott's attorney also sued the tree-trimming company that had worked on the giant oak, and within a year, the homeowner, the tree company, their insurance companies and Abbott had agreed to an out-of-court settlement that would pay Abbott's current and future medical bills and compensate him for mental anguish and for some of the income he lost because of the accident.

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A Quiet End to a Bipartisan Protection Racket

When he was governor, George W. Bush took great care of his bipartisan reputation, sometimes bewildering his fellow Republicans by refusing to get involved in races against incumbent Democrats in the Legislature. Not only did he not campaign, most of the time, against Democratic House and Senate members, Gov. Bush didn't contribute to their opponents' campaigns. It was a practical necessity. To do otherwise would have undercut the legislative leaders—Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock and House Speaker Pete Laney—who were in the best positions to turn around and undermine Bush.

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Missing in Action

Land Commissioner David Dewhurst stood up a big room full of veterans who were waiting to hear him speak last week. He was supposed to talk at the morning session of the Veterans of Foreign Wars mid-winter conference. But he left a crowd of about 1,500 former warriors sitting on their hands.

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Getting On Down the Road

Gov. Rick Perry will uncork a sweeping transportation proposal within the week that will include high speed rail lines connecting some of the state's biggest cities, leasing of highway right of way to companies that want to build pipelines and fiber optic networks and cellular towers, the use of state money to supplement tolls on roads that can't initially pay their own way, and a new notion about how to build, operate and pay for all of it.

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Perhaps a $5 Billion Problem, Perhaps Not

State candidates from the bottom of the ballot to the top are talking about the budget mess they expect to confront a year from now. But the budget people who actually work on this stuff are still sorting through the numbers, attempting to get a picture of the train wreck the candidates fear.

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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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