Vol 30, Issue 25 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

The nation watched on Tuesday — and into Wednesday — as Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis and hundreds of reproductive rights advocates stalled proceedings and ultimately defeated controversial abortion legislation.

Davis came off the Senate floor early Wednesday as the national Democratic Party's newest star. But what effect her 11-hour filibuster to stop abortion legislation will have on her political prospects in Texas is an open question.

The state's lieutenant governor was hoping the special session would revive his support among conservatives. It might have done exactly the opposite.

Republicans in the state Senate looked like tourists who wandered into a hostile neighborhood after liberal activists helped derail an abortion bill. But they are still in the driver's seat in the second special session.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed its version of the comprehensive immigration reform bill that would pave the way for citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the country. The bill now moves to the U.S. House, where it faces an uphill battle. 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declared that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional, a major blow to supporters of oversight of voting laws that they say protect people from discrimination.

In the wake of its decision to strike a section of the Voting Rights Act earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday tossed out two Texas cases on voter ID and redistricting.

Political People and their Moves

Sen. Dan Patrick’s announcement that he will run for lieutenant governor next year was expected, but the timing of his announcement serves as a commentary on Dewhurst’s performance — especially during the just-ended special session.

Patrick, a Houston Republican, joins Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples in challenging Dewhurst. On paper, it resembles a race for an open seat even though the incumbent has been in office since 2002. In a recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, three-fifths of Republican voters said they hadn’t thought about the race enough to choose a candidate. That sort of thing is good news for the challengers. 

David Watts, a business consultant from Northeast Texas, says he is running for land commissioner, a job opening because of Patterson's run for Lite Guv. Watts will face George P. Bush in that primary.

Eric Opiela, a former Republican Party official who ranches and practices law, will run for agriculture in 2014. 

And former Harris County Tax Assessor Collector Paul Bettencourt will run for Patrick’s seat, he announced just a bit after Patrick declared his intention to challenge Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Bettencourt started a tax consultancy after leaving the county job.

After weeks of talking to potential supporters about it, Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman announced his candidacy for attorney general, saying he will only run if Attorney General Greg Abbott doesn’t seek reelection. Smitherman, a Republican, was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry and then won election last year.

Earlier this year, Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, said he wouldn’t seek another term and said he was mulling a run for mayor. Modify the first bit and scratch the second: Strama resigned his public job to lead Google Fiber’s operations in Austin. He’ll help start up their high-speed internet project in the capital city. The governor will have to call a special election to fill that seat.

Mark Miner is returning to the fold, leaving the private sector to become a senior advisor to Gov. Rick Perry. He worked on several Perry campaigns and worked for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst before that.

Press corps moves: Kate Galbraith, a terrific reporter who covered energy and environment for the Texas Tribune for the last three years, is leaving for sunny California. And Julian Aguilar, who joined the Tribune after writing for Texas Weekly and other publications for years, is leaving Austin to open a border bureau, based in El Paso.