Vol 30, Issue 32 Print Issue

GOP candidates for state comptroller. Clockwise, from top left: former gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, former state Rep. Raul Torres, state Sen. Glenn Hegar and state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran.
GOP candidates for state comptroller. Clockwise, from top left: former gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, former state Rep. Raul Torres, state Sen. Glenn Hegar and state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran.

Combs' Legacy Not a Presence in Comptroller's Race

The Republicans running for comptroller aren't talking about the current officeholder at all: Susan Combs is off the ballot and out of the field of play, for now.

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democrats' best hope to run for Texas governor, said this week she is postponing the announcement of her decision so she can help care for her sick father. “I had hoped to make public my decision about that next week, but with everything that’s going on with my dad, I won’t be doing that,” she said. “It’s likely it will be late September before I do.” Davis’ father, Jerry Russell, has been in critical condition at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth following complications from abdominal surgery. In a Facebook post, Davis said Russell, who has been battling pneumonia, was “continuing to show small but positive steps toward improvement” but was “not out of the woods” yet.

As Texas Democrats await word from on whether Davis is running for governor, some say Democrats eyeing statewide races are too chicken to jump in without the expected money and national attention that a Davis candidacy could bring. Consultants said running isn’t easy and that it takes lots of money to do it right. So if you’re considering a race for comptroller, you want to know if Davis is going to be the standard bearer for the party. Especially, they said, when your party doesn't have a Plan B.

For help with its ongoing investigation of Regent Wallace Hall, the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations has turned to prominent Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, who'll serve as its special counsel. The committee has held multiple informational and planning meetings to better understand its charge and the state's impeachment process, which has rarely been used and never for a university system regent.

As groundwater managers from across the state met this week to discuss the numerous challenges they face, talk of legislative changes to water financing and a campaign to convince voters to allow more of it was eclipsed by more pressing issues. The meeting of the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts made clear that money won’t fix many of the problems confronting the state's groundwater districts, which are facing some of the worst drought conditions in state history and increasing pressure due to population growth, oil and gas drilling activity, and environmental concerns. And news of a ruling issued by a state appeals court on a closely watched case involving the Edwards Aquifer Authority also stirred concerns of the murky waters the districts must tread.

Documents released by the Texas Department of Public Safety’s provided no new evidence that officers found one jar of urine and 18 containers of feces at the Capitol before a July 12 debate on a controversial abortion bill. DPS released a press statement the day of the debate that said officers had discovered one jar suspected of containing urine and 18 jars suspected to contain feces. After initially resisting requests for additional information about the reported discoveries, DPS released 144 pages of documents about the alleged incident. But the documents contain no official reports of the findings, and several DPS officers said they had not seen any of the suspected items.

Political People and their Moves

Blaine Brunson is on his way to New York, to train for a year with Morgan Stanley before returning to Texas to open a bond office for the company next year. He was most recently chief of staff to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and before that worked on state budgets and finance issues for a variety of bosses.

Miguel Romano Jr. is leaving the Associated Republicans of Texas, where he was executive director, to become senior development officer at American Bank’s Austin office. 

David Reynolds is opening his own consultancy after several years as head of the Texas Medical Association’s affiliated political action committee. His new outfit is called Reynolds Solutions.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed:

Tonya Spaeth Ahlschwede of Junction as district attorney for Edwards, Kimble, McCulloch, Mason and Menard counties. She has her own private practice and was an assistant DA before that.

Robert Hofmann of Mason as judge in the 452nd judicial district, made up of those same five counties. Hofmann is former Mason County attorney and is currently presiding judges of the child protection court of the Hill Country.

David Stith of Corpus Christi as judge of the 319th judicial district court. He’s a private practice attorney and a former county court at law judge.

Darrell Davila to run his appointments office. Davila, a former assistant Tarrant County DA, has been handling judicial and legal appointments for Perry. He’ll replace Bech Bruun, named a couple of weeks ago to the Texas Water Development Board.