Vol 30, Issue 47 Print Issue

The Texas Weekly Hot List

The primaries are on, and our biennial Hot List is back, ranking the races by risk to the incumbents and/or the level of drama for candidates and voters. We'll add, subtract and change the rankings as the races develop.

U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, who filed to run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on Dec. 9, 2013.
U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, who filed to run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on Dec. 9, 2013.

The Quit List

It's not yet clear who will be returning to the Legislature in 2015, but the list of people who won't be back has started to gel.

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

UT-Austin President Bill Powers kept his job but only after getting a "blunt and not entirely positive" assessment of his relationships with administration at the UT System. The board took no action, withholding a vote of confidence on Powers.

Powers later testified to the select House committee investigating possible articles of impeachment against UT System Regent Wallace Hall. Powers told the panel that persistent controversy, largely stemming from the actions of a University of Texas System regent, has taken a toll on the university's reputation.

The race to replace U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, drew six additional Republicans in the last week, bringing the full primary field to 12.

Stockman, meanwhile, lost on the NRA's endorsement in the U.S. Senate primary. The gun rights oranization stuck with friendly incumbent John Cornyn, an action which one media outlet portrayed as a coup for the Senate minority whip.

From rivers to roads... The Lower Colorado River Authority's board has tapped Phil Wilson, the Texas Department of Transportation's executive director, to be the agency's new general manager. Wilson, a former deputy chief of staff for Gov. Rick Perry, has been the executive director of TxDOT for about two years.

Texas A&M University named Mark Hussey as its new interim president. Regents selected Hussey, who was favored by Chancellor John Sharp, over Guy Diedrich, whose candidacy was championed by Gov. Rick Perry. In the leadup to the vote, the conflict was considered another chapter in the rivalry between frenemies Perry and Sharp.

Texas ended its fiscal year in September with a $2.6 billion surplus and lawmakers could enter the 2015 legislative session with $8 billion in its Rainy Day Fund, Comptroller Susan Combs reported, as the oil drilling boom’s impact on state coffers continues to outpace officials’ expectations.

Congressional Republicans descended on North Texas to scrutinize health care "navigators" in a field hearing highlighting their continued opposition to the Affordable Care Act. A lone Democrat on the panel said he'd rather see scrutinized Texas' refusal to expand the Medicaid program to cover childless adults.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union alleges that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in El Paso subjected a U.S. citizen to unwarranted searches, including vaginal probes and a CT scan.

Political People and their Moves

Gov. Rick Perry appointed five members to the Red River Boundary Commission. They are:

  • State Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman
  • Bill Douglass of Sherman
  • Thomas "Ryan" Johnson of Sherman
  • William "Bill" Madden of Dallas
  • Maher Maso of Frisco

Their terms expire on Dec. 31, 2015.

Nandita Berry has been named Secretary of State by Perry. She will be the first Indian-American to hold the position. The appointment becomes effective Jan. 7. She succeeds John Steen who announced his resignation last week.

Manny Flores Jr. of Austin was appointed by Perry to the Public Safety Commission for a term to expire Dec. 31, 2017.

Keith Brainard of Georgetown was appointed by Perry to the State Pension Review Board for a term to expire Jan. 31, 2019.

Robert Durón, a former deputy commissioner of finance and administration for the Texas Education Agency, has been named associate executive director of District Services for the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)

Amanda Miller has been named political director for the Harvey Hilderbran for comptroller campaign. Miller, a former campaign manager for state Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, was most recently national field director for the College Republican National Committee. The campaign notes that Miller is also the daughter of state Rep. Doug Miller, R-New Braunfels.

The National Rifle Association and Texas State Rifle Association gave endorsements to two friendly incumbents in contested Republican primaries: U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and state Sen. John Carona. Cornyn also announced this week that he has the backing of the anti-abortion group, Texas Alliance for Life.

Former state Rep. Sid Miller earned the endorsement of the North Texas Tea Party in his bid to win the GOP nomination for agriculture commissioner.

Rick Gentry will retire as executive director of the Insurance Council of Texas at the end of March 2013. He has worked for the ICT since 1997.