While We Were Out

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst gestures toward Senate Democrats as they leave the chamber to caucus on Sunday afternoon May 29, 2011.
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst gestures toward Senate Democrats as they leave the chamber to caucus on Sunday afternoon May 29, 2011.

Maybe it's the heat. Or redistricting. Or maybe Gov. Rick Perry's political hyperactivity is contagious. Whatever it is, candidates are popping up like it was Labor Day.

After we closed for two weeks in mid-July, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst shocked nobody, declaring for the U.S. Senate seat he's been thinking about since Kay Bailey Hutchison's January announcement that she won't be be coming back for another term. Dewhurst popped out a video for supporters and let the media play catch-up.

Before the pixels had gone cold from that announcement, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said he'll run for lieutenant governor in 2014, presumably two years after Dewhurst leaves for Washington or goes home, having lost the Senate contest.

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who's looking at that same race — he said in April he was "exploring" it. Exploring doesn't have the same legal status in Texas law that it has in federal law. Here, it's just a bit of rhetoric; there, it's a particular type of campaign. a few days after the Dewhurst rollout, Staples fired off a letter to Comptroller Susan Combs (and to the media) questioning her changing position on abortion and asking pointed questions about the data leak at her agency last spring, when they found they'd left personal information about 3.5 million current and former school and state employees in a public spot. Combs hasn't said for sure that she'll run for Lite Guv, but she's got the most money. Staples letter was seen by some as an attempt to make the finance folks hesitate before writing her any more checks.

About that change in abortion positions. Combs is now against it in all cases except for rape, incest and the life of the mother. Here she is in her own words: "If people are having abortions because they're not taking personal responsibility, I find that just morally repugnant. It has reached such incredible numbers. I have been looking at studies and data and reading books and it is stunning to me. I say this with all seriousness. It is stunning to me that we are at the point in this country where in 2011, you have incredibly high numbers of women choosing to abort rather than have a baby or to have avoided the problem in the first place. So I am unequivocal about it. I was wrong and it's 20 years later, and I feel very strongly about it."

Campaign Chatter

Christi Craddick, an attorney and the daughter of former Speaker Tom Craddick, will run for the Texas Railroad Commission. She's looking at Elizabeth Ames Jones' job; Jones is running for U.S. Senate and won't seek reelection next year. This could take some sorting. Former Public Utility Commissioner Barry Smitherman won Gov. Rick Perry's appointment to fill Michael Williams' position on the RRC. He'll be on the ballot next year. And others, including state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, Roland Sledge, a Houston oil and gas lawyer and the brother-in-law of former Rep. and Texas A&M Chancellor Mike McKinney, and Comal County Commissioner Gregory Parker have all expressed interest in the commission.

Put another name in the hat in CD-25; Bill Burch of Arlington will join that race. He's the head of something called the Grass Roots Institute of Texas, or GRIT. Of note: Dallas Republican Vance Miller is that campaign's treasurer.

Burch is joining a race that heated up while we were out. Michael Williams moved into that contest from the congressional race he moved to when he got out of the race for the U.S. Senate for which effort he resigned from the Texas Railroad Commission. That gets him out of the congressional contest with car dealer Roger Williams. It opens him to carpet-bagging accusations. And it might be risking. The congressional lines (and all of the others, too) are being contested in court. If, after hearings that start next month, the federal judges change the lines, candidates could have another round of musical chairs. Williams could get caught searching for a base (on the other hand, he'll be the only candidate in the race who's run statewide, for what it's worth). State Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, contends the district was drawn for him. He could be in. So could political consultant Chad Wilbanks of Lake Travis, who announced an exploratory committee. Wes Riddle, founder of the Central Texas Tea Party, is running in that primary, too. Dave Garrison, a retired USAA and Halliburton exec, is running. The incumbent, Democrat Lloyd Doggett of Austin, is moving to another district that's more likely to elect a Democrat.

There's a crowded race on some of turf Williams is leaving behind. State Sen. Wendy Davis' Tarrant County district was drawn to make it harder for the Fort Worth Democrat to turn. She's running for reelection, but a number of Republicans are sniffing around. State Rep. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, says he'll run. Two other state reps — Mark Shelton of Fort Worth and Vicki Truitt of Keller — both say they're interested, too, though neither has announced a decision.

A nearby statehouse district has the attention of two Democrats who lost their seats in last year's Republican rout. Chris Turner of Burleson and Paula Pierson of Arlington both told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram they'll run in HD-101, an open seat.

Before our summer break, state Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, was saying he'd have a look at the congressional seat being left behind by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Surfside. He looked, he saw, and he wandered. Taylor is back to pondering his original target — the seat occupied by state Sen. Mike Jackson, R-La Porte. Jackson is looking at Congress, which would leave his spot open. In Beaumont, Republican attorney Michael Truncale announced he'll run for Congress in CD-14 — Paul's district. Truncale is a member of the State Republican Executive Committee and a regent at the Texas State University System.

Speaker Pro Tempore Beverly Woolley, R-Houston, won't seek another term. She announced for office on her birthday all those years ago (1994), and announced on her birthday this year that she won't be back. She turned 72 last month. "I've been there a long time, and I'm no youngster," she said. "It was a hard session. You have to know when it's time." Former Houston City Councilwoman and city controller candidate Pam Holm is probably running for that spot, as is Michael Schofield, who lost a 2006 House race and is now working for Gov. Rick Perry.

Sugar Land Mayor Pro Tem Jacquie Chaumette says she will challenge Rep. Charlie Howard, R-Sugar Land, in next year's Republican primary.

Gerald "Buddy" Winn, who pushed Rep. Fred Brown, R-College Station, into a runoff last year, will run for the House, but not in the seat from which Brown resigned last month. The new lines put Winn in a new district that runs from College Station up to Waco. He's looking at it. Brown quit to take a job in Salado, which is outside of his Brazos County district.

Jim Kuiken of Weslaco says he's exploring a run for Congress in CD-15, where the incumbent is Democrat Ruben Hinojosa. Kuiken is a republican, a former Border Patrol Agent, Marine and homeland security executive.

State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Southside Place, says she'll seek reelection next year. State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, says he wants more; he'll seek reelection, too.


Too Tough, But Not for Long

An Austin judge ruled this week that the Texas Department of Public Safety overstepped its authority when it enacted tougher requirements for immigrants trying to obtain driver's licenses, giving immigrants' rights groups and some business leaders a glimmer of hope.

Judge Orlinda Naranjo ruled that DPS cannot deny immigrants with less than a year on their visas a driver's license, that DPS clerks cannot require applicants to furnish more paperwork than what a federal immigration officer would require to obtain proof of citizenship, and that a legal resident's driver's license cannot be different in appearance than a citizen's.

There's a twist, however. The judge ruled that DPS went outside the scope of its authority when it adopted the new rules in 2008. Fast forward to next month, however, and the DPS will have that authority, thanks to an amendment added to Senate Bill 1, the fiscal matters bill that kept lawmakers in Austin this summer for a special session.

That provision allows DPS to determine expiration dates for noncitizens' IDs based on when an immigration document was issued. For a noncitizen or nonpermanent legal resident, DPS can issue a document that "expires on the earlier of a date specified by DPS or the expiration date of the applicant's authorized stay in the United States." If the immigration document does not have an expiration date, DPS can issue an ID or license that expires annually.

"The lawsuit has always been predicated on the fact that [DPS] does not have legislative authority to enact the rules they enacted," said attorney Luis Figueroa with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, part of the plaintiff's team. "[In the future] they can't try to wiggle around what the Legislature said."

Figueroa said after the ruling, though, that the department is appealing the decision.

Political Warchests at Midyear

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been at the top of the cash list in Texas politics for so long that it's not really that newsy any more. The incumbent Republican, who's got a run for governor in his sights if Rick Perry moves along, got to the end of June with $10.4 million in the bank.

He had more money than any other candidate — or any of the state's big political action committees. Among the candidates, Comptroller Susan Combs reached mid-year with $5.4 million in her accounts, followed by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, at $4.8 million; House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, $2.6 million; and Perry, $2.1 million. Another 13 politicians — all but one of them (former state Rep. Steve Wolens, D-Dallas) still in office — had at least $1 million on hand as of June 30. In all, 18 candidates had at least $1 million cash on hand.

Some of the political actions committees, or PACS, associated with trade and lobby groups are wealthy too. The Texas Association of Realtors has two separate funds, and each has more than any other association, with balances of $7.4 million and $5.8 million, respectively. The Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC had $3.2 million on hand, followed by the Texas Dental Association PAC, $1.2 million; the Greenberg Traurig PAC (it's a law/lobby firm), $1.1 million; the Texas Farm Bureau's PAC, $1 million; and the Texas Medical Association PAC, $1 million. No other noncandidate PACs broke into seven figures.

Filer NameCash on HandFiled Report
Texans for Greg Abbott $10,428,701.03 View
Texas Association of Realtors Issues Mobilization Political Action Committee $7,399,418.69 View
Texas Association of REALTORS Political Action Committee $5,816,670.04 View
Friends Of Susan Combs Committee $5,355,235.82 View
Whitmire, John $4,838,658.66 View
Texans For Lawsuit Reform PAC $3,160,445.43 View
Texans for Joe Straus $2,616,279.26 View
Texans For Rick Perry $2,120,831.97 View
Ellis, Rodney G. $1,788,481.00 View
Watson, Kirk P. $1,468,085.83 View
Fraser For Texas Senate $1,395,792.90 View
Eltife, Kevin P. $1,245,650.71 View
Texas Dental Association Political Action Committee $1,239,408.19 View
Craddick, Tom $1,239,237.73 View
Texans for Dan Branch $1,227,014.71 View
Wolens, Steven D. $1,174,683.50 View
West, Royce $1,164,418.96 View
David Dewhurst Committee $1,111,244.92 View
Hegar Jr., Glenn A. $1,110,074.90 View
Texans for Todd Staples $1,086,812.00 View
Seliger, Kelton G. $1,076,922.68 View
Greenberg Traurig, P. A. PAC $1,067,593.84 View
Texas Farm Bureau Friends Of Agriculture Fund Inc. $1,038,301.31 View
Solomons, Burt $1,022,944.60 View
Texas Medical Assn. PAC $1,008,502.45 View

Texas politicians and PACS regularly report their financial activities to the Texas Ethics Commission, and we've put some of their numbers into this list for comparison. Individuals and many PACs file reports every six months in nonelection years (and more frequently in election years), while some types of PACs are required to file monthly financial reports. This list includes a mix of what the former group had on hand on June 30 and what the latter group had on hand on July 31. For the full list, click here.

School Ratings "Far More Accurate" — and Lower

Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott speaks at the TASA midwinter conference in Austin, Texas February 1st, 2011
Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott speaks at the TASA midwinter conference in Austin, Texas February 1st, 2011

The vise squeezing Texas schools since the Legislature voted to remove $4 billion in state funding is getting a little tighter.

On July 29, the state released its latest accountability ratings for public school campuses in 1,228 of the state's traditional districts and charter schools — and while Education Commissioner Robert Scott said they present a "far more accurate look" at academic performance, they are markedly lower.

Far fewer schools achieved the highest ratings compared with last year. But the clincher is that many districts find themselves with lower ratings even though their student achievement has remained the same. That's because the formula used to calculate the ratings, based primarily on students' standardized test scores, no longer includes a mechanism called the Texas Projection Measure.

Here's the breakdown of the changes: "Exemplary" schools dropped from 19.5 percent of all districts to 5 percent, "Recognized" schools dropped from 49.1 percent of all districts to 34.4 percent, "Acceptable" schools rose from 27.6 percent of all districts to 53.3 percent, and "Unacceptable" schools rose from 3 percent of all districts to 7.2 percent.

These ratings will stay in place for the next two years to give schools a chance to adjust to STAAR, the state's new, more rigorous standardized testing system, which will be rolled out next spring.

Texas Joins Online University

The announcement of a new online university for Texas, Western Governors University Texas, has united members of the higher education community who have recently found themselves at odds over the future of the state's colleges and universities.

Western Governors University is an online university that was created by governors of 19 states, including Texas, in 1997, and has grown steadily over time. Currently, about 1,600 Texans — out of about 25,000 students nationally — are enrolled in the university.

For some perspective, that's slightly less than the total enrollment at Texas A&M University at Galveston, one of the state's smallest public four-year universities.

As noted in the press release announcing the initiative, WGU primarily serves working adults whose schedules demand flexibility. By taking courses at their own pace and advancing based on proven competency — as opposed to logging a requisite number of hours — WGU lets them earn bachelor's and master's degrees in areas like business, information technology, education and health professions. Tuition is about $5,780 per year, which means that, while relatively cheap, it won't likely satisfy Perry's challenge for a $10,000 degree including books.

While its reach may currently be limited and it doesn't address all concerns about higher ed, politicians and policymakers issued statements expressing their excitement about a new option for degree seekers and what it might mean for the state's workforce.

"Texas needs legions of new, sharp, credentialed minds to succeed in a knowledge-based economy," said House Higher Education Chairman Dan Branch, R-Dallas.

Along with Senate Higher Education Chairwoman Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, Branch co-chairs the new Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency, which was created in response to the actions of Perry-appointed regents and was viewed by some conservatives as an affront to the governor.

Zaffirini has been particularly critical of Perry but supports the new online initiative. "Working Texans who cannot pursue their higher education goals on college campuses certainly should reap the benefits of WGU Texas' online, competency-based model," she said.

WGU Texas, which will not receive state funding, is being created by an executive order that calls on state agencies such as the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Workforce Commission to step up their coordination, data sharing and involvement in WGU. It also establishes an advisory board that the governor will appoint.

Shortly after the announcement from Perry's office, the Texas Association of Community Colleges issued a release saying it was working with Perry's office and WGU to craft an agreement that will allow community college students to transfer seamlessly into WGU Texas.

WGU Texas will help fill a gap in providing higher education opportunities, helping thousands of adult Texans attain the college degrees they've wanted and needed, on their schedule, and at an affordable cost," said Rey Garcia, president of the community college association.

Inside Intelligence: In the Race Ahead...

The insiders are more convinced that ever that Gov. Rick Perry will run for president. We phrased it in the negative, asking whether they still have any doubt he will run, and 83 percent have no question, while only 15 percent have doubts.

If he does run, a big majority thinks he'll win in South Carolina, but only one in five think the governor would beat the GOP field in Iowa and New Hampshire, and only 42 percent think he'll win in Florida.

After that? The insiders are split in round one, with 38 percent thinking he'll get the GOP nomination and 49 percent saying he won't. Seventeen percent of our insiders think the voters will put Perry in the White House next year, while 68 percent say they won't.

The full set of verbatim answers to our questions is attached, but here's a sampling:

Do you have any doubt that Gov. Rick Perry will run for president?

• "Every thing he has done during he regular, special sessions and since suggest he has long ago made his mind up to run."

• "He'll wait until the last possible moment. If at that point things look sufficiently gloomy, he'll back off and pretend he never was serious about it, and we'll believe him."

• "He's been called."

• "Without a doubt. He's been jockeying to position himself for an announcement for the last 18 months. He didn't throw his hat in too early. This allows him to ride the tide...gain in popularity.... and look like a hero that is answering the call to serve."

• "He has a record that makes him a stark choice to the current president."

Do you think Perry will win the Republican nomination for president?

• "Do they care about State's Rights? The Tea Party does. Will a section of that party be able to raise critical examination of the Texas jobs claims?"

• "I sincerely hope not."

• "No one else can speak to the Tea Party, religious/social conservatives, and Big Business constituencies quite like our Rick. He'll have the money he needs for the primary. Mitt believes in a different prophet, hails from Taxachusetts, and has some explaining to do on healthcare in the eyes of the Republican primary electorate. Yee-haw!"

• "Rick Perry is pitch-perfect for Texas politics, but it is not clear that he is mentally agile enough to make the jump to national politics. His recent stumble on gay marriage and the 10th amendment is a good example of flirting unsuccessfully with nuance."

• "He has not done the hard work over his career to prepare for this job. It will show...in fact it's already showing. The party will not nominate a sure loser for an election that the GOP has a good chance to win. Obama is extremely vulnerable, but Perry will be seen as the wrong man to take him on."

Do you think Perry will win the 2012 presidential election?

• "Too many variables outside the GOP nominee's control. The nation has to decide to fire Obama. Perry will give them a clear choice but it is too far away at this point to know what the voters will choose."

• "Obama will paint him as Goldwater -- too radical and dangerous to lead. (How times have changed. What the world wouldn't give for a Goldwater in today's Republican Party.) Look for a 2012 version of the "Daisy" ad. The Bush/Tea Party economy will continue to suffer through 2012, so Obama will have to make the race, in large part, about his opponent to skate through."

• "HELL NO! I think our country has had enough of Texans running the country."

• "He's not as far out as Palin and Bachmann, but he's too far to the right, and he's got way too much baggage to win the presidency."

• "Given the answer to number 3, I can't say he'll win the presidency if he doesn't get the nomination. Although, I've lost every time I bet against Rick Perry. Don't know why this would be different."

Our thanks to this week's participants: Cathie Adams, Clyde Alexander, George Allen, Jay Arnold, Jim Arnold, Louis Bacarisse, Charles Bailey, Reggie Bashur, Dave Beckwith, Tom Blanton, Steve Bresnen, Chris Britton, Andy Brown, Lydia Camarillo, Kerry Cammack, Marc Campos, Snapper Carr, William Chapman, George Cofer, Rick Cofer, Hector De Leon, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Jeff Eller, Alan Erwin, Jon Fisher, Neftali Garcia, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, John Greytok, Anthony Haley, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Ken Hodges, Steve Holzheauser, Shanna Igo, Deborah Ingersoll, Cal Jillson, Mark Jones, Russ Keane, Richard Khouri, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, James LeBas, Donald Lee, Luke Legate, Leslie Lemon, Ruben Longoria, Vilma Luna, Matt Mackowiak, Lynn Moak, Bee Moorhead, Craig Murphy, Keir Murray, Keats Norfleet, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Bill Pewitt, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Jay Propes, Ted Melina Raab, Bill Ratliff, Tim Reeves, Carl Richie, Kim Ross, Jason Sabo, Stan Schlueter, Bruce Scott, Steve Scurlock, Christopher Shields, Julie Shields, Patricia Shipton, Dee Simpson, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Todd Smith, Steve Stagner, Bob Strauser, Colin Strother, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Russ Tidwell, Bruce Todd, Trey Trainor, Ware Wendell, Ken Whalen, Lee Woods, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.


The Week in the Rearview Mirror

The Response, Gov. Rick Perry’s seven-hour prayer and fasting marathon, will take place as planned this Saturday at Reliant Stadium in Houston. The Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist-agnostic group, sued to stop the event, but a federal judge ruled that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing because they didn’t suffer a particular injury and were free to protest by not attending or praying.

Authorities arrested a private who had gone AWOL from Fort Campbell in Kentucky and stocked up on weapons and ammunition he planned to use in an attack on Fort Hood. Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo was also accused of planning an attack on a restaurant in Killeen. A clerk at Guns Galore alerted police to Abdo’s purchases. Authorities then found explosives and weapons in his motel room, along with al-Qaeda materials and bomb-making instructions. Federal and local authorities said he was working alone.

The legislative session may be over, but the redistricting plan lawmakers passed this session faces a lawsuit and will have to receive approval from the courts to become law. Several groups, including the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, have filed suit, citing insufficient minority representation. A case filed in Austin has been consolidated with five other cases, and a panel of federal judges in San Antonio will review the entire issue. The trial is on a fast track and is scheduled to begin Sept. 6.

New redistricting maps have created an electoral scramble. Michael Williams, the former railroad commissioner who originally planned to run for Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat, switched to the newly drawn Congressional District 33 in North Texas. Now he has announced that he will run in District 25, whose edges touch both Tarrant and Hays County. The incumbent in that district, Lloyd Doggett, has seen the boundaries on his district redrawn and is looking at a likely primary challenge from Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio.

After days of silence, Warren Jeffs, on trial for charges of child sexual assault, delivered a lengthy diatribe against the court proceedings. Jeffs, who has been representing himself at trial, objected to an FBI agent's testimony and then started defending polygamy as divine. The judge dismissed the jury while Jeffs read a statement from God, but warned him not to use threats. The judge eventually had Jeffs' microphones removed.

Accompanying the record-breaking heat in Texas these days is record-breaking electricity usage. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state's grid operator, reported record demand on its system and also declared a level-one energy emergency. ERCOT predicts continuing record usage and has asked consumers to conserve between the peak hours of 3 and 7 p.m. The council also began its own emergency procedure, bringing all available power plants online and tapping nearby grids for extra watts.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new emissions standards for drilling operations, including first-of-their-kind standards for wells that have been fracked. Neighborhood activists in North Texas had previously raised red flags to no avail about the chemicals used in the fracking process, and one of the new rules would address the burn-off of those chemicals. Emissions standards would also be applied to compressor stations, storage tanks and other equipment used at production sites. The EPA and environmental groups claim that the industry can save about $30 million a year by adopting technologies to trap natural gas that is currently allowed to escape and then selling it.

Political People and their Moves

Former Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Nate Crain will be the finance chairman for the Americans for Rick Perry Super PAC. That group isn't allowed to coordinate, talk to, or be seen with the candidate or his campaign. But they can spend money promoting him. Crain and his family have been supporting Perry for years. His wife, Dallas attorney Christina Melton Crain, was a Perry appointee to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice and has a prison in Gatesville named for her.

Former state district judge Charlie Baird launched an exploratory committee to consider a run for Travis County district attorney. He'd be running against incumbent Rosemary Lehmberg.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed seven members to the Continuing Advisory Committee for Special Education, which provides policy guidance with respect to special education and related services for children with disabilities in Texas. Gwyn Boyter of Austin is superintendent of the University of Texas-University Charter School. Susan "Stormi" Johnson of Palestine is a diagnostician and special education teacher in the Palestine Independent School District and Anderson County Juvenile Detention Center. Melissa Columbus Keller of Lakeway is an advocate for children with special needs. Geralda Morales-Whittemore of Brownsville is an assistant principal in the Brownsville Independent School District. Nagla Moussa of Plano is a teacher at the Art Workshop. Heather Pulido of Fort Worth is a paralegal at the law office of J. Frank Thompson. Myeshi Williams-Briley of Spring is an instructor at the Prairie View A&M University Office of Continuing Education and CEO of the Education, Support, Help and Intervention Therapy Center.

Perry appointed Raymond A. "Ray" Gill Jr. of Horseshoe Bay to the Lower Colorado River Authority. Gill owns R. Gill and Associates.

The governor also appointed:

John Youngblood of Cameron as judge of the 20th Judicial District Court in Milam County. Youngblood is partner at Glaser and Youngblood, Attorneys at Law.

Eleanor Kitzman of Austin as state commissioner of insurance, effective Aug. 15, 2011. Kitzman is the outgoing executive director of the South Carolina Budget and Control Board, and is past director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance. She was appointed to her current job by Gov. Nikki Haley.

Darrell Brownlow of Floresville to the San Antonio River Authority Board of Directors. Brownlow is a principal at Intercoastal Inland Services.

Quotes of the Week

I was probably a bit of a free spirit, not particularly structured real well for life outside of a military regime. I would have not lasted at Texas Tech or the University of Texas. I would have hit the fraternity scene and lasted about one semester.

Rick Perry, in a 1989 interview with the Abilene Reporter-News, on his time at Texas A&M University.

I told him, I'm in Korea seeing miracles, and something needs to be done for our fellow Americans.

Dr. Stanley Jones, a Houston orthopedic surgeon and personal friend of the governor's, who encouraged him to use an experimental adult stem cell treatment in his back surgery.

Twenty years ago, I was pro-choice, not pro-abortion. I was pro-choice because I had concerns about the role of government. Here we are, you go to 2004, 5, 6, 7, 8, and I am actually stunned to find, in the 21st century, past the year 2000, that we are seeing abortion — which I really thought was rare — being used as a contraceptive. It's just birth control.

Comptroller and lieutenant governor hopeful Susan Combs on her evolving views on abortion.

This president is trying to engage in class warfare and shooting high-powered bullets at people who have corporate jets, but the bullets pass through those wealthy people and hit blue-collar workers who rely upon those wealthy individuals who risk the capital to create the jobs.

Gov. Rick Perry, in an interview with RealClearPolitics.

He ought to stay in Texas and keep building jobs there.

Ed Rollins, the campaign manager for presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, talking to Politico about Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

I, the Lord God of heaven, call upon the court to cease this prosecution against my pure, holy way.

Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs in a San Angelo courtroom.

Let's face it, with 2012 upon us in both countries, his mature, steady 'seen it all, done it all' demeanor should serve the two countries well.

South Texas native and former Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza on how he thinks recently confirmed Deputy Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne, President Obama's nominee to the post, will fare in the position during next year's presidential elections in both countries.