Political People and their Moves

Gov. Greg Abbott announced last Friday a staff reshuffle following the departure of some senior staff. Highlighting the changes are the promotion of Ky Ash to Budget Director and Drew DeBerry to Director of Budget and Policy. Constance Allison was promoted to take over for DeBerry as Policy Director. In addition, David Whitley will take over as Appointments Director in mid-March.

Abbott tapped Frank Parker Jr. of Brownsville to serve as presiding officer of the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority. His term expires Feb. 1, 2018.

Abbott has decided to keep Ryan Brannan of Austin as Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation at the Texas Department of Insurance for another term. His term in office is now set to expire Feb. 1, 2017.

Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced Tuesday the appointment of Kara Belew to serve as the Texas Education Agency’s deputy commissioner of finance. She comes to TEA from Abbott's staff where she had served as budget director.

State Sen. Bob Hall has endorsed the tandem of Jared Woodfill and Cathie Adams for chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Republican Party of Texas. Woodfill plans to challenge Tom Mechler for the leadership of the party at the state convention in May.

Former Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri, meanwhile, announced that he is backing Mechler for re-election as party chairman.

GOP SD-1 candidate David Simpson received on Monday the backing of the Republican Liberty Caucus, a group that describes itself as “a grassroots membership organization … promoting the traditional Republican Party values of limited government and individual liberty.”

Former state Comptroller Susan Combs announced last week that she is backing Dawn Buckingham in the SD-24 GOP primary. Combs this week announced that she is endorsing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president after her previous choice, Carly Fiorina, dropped out of the running.

State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, announced on Monday an endorsement from Royse City Mayor Janet Nichol for his re-election bid in HD-2. Flynn also announced this week endorsements from Munisteri, the political arm of the Texas Farm Bureau and Wills Point Mayor Mark Turner.

State Rep. Marsha Farney, R-Georgetown, touted on Wednesday an endorsement by the National Rifle Association for her re-election bid in HD-20, located north of Austin.

Terry Wilson, who is challenging state Farney in the HD-20 Republican party primary, rolled out on Tuesday a set of endorsements from GOP leaders in Burnet County, a list highlighted by Chairman Donna Holland Wilcox and Vice Chairman Mary Jane Avery.

Outgoing state Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, is endorsing John Keating, who is one of three Republicans running to succeed Turner as representative for the Collin and Rockwall county-based HD-33. An Army veteran, Keating currently serves as Frisco’s mayor pro tem.

HD-84 GOP challenger Jim Landtroop announced that he has the backing of a trio of movement conservative leaders — former RPT Chair Cathie AdamsJoAnn Fleming of the tea party group Grassroots America – WE THE PEOPLE, and Conservative Republicans of Texas founder Steve Hotze.

Republican HD-130 candidate Tom Oliverson announced two endorsements on Monday: one from SREC District 7 Committeeman Mark Ramsey and another from the Kingwood Tea Party.

Public education advocate group Texas Parent PAC released its endorsement list on Monday, highlighted by the group's decision to back GOP challengers to Tea Party incumbents in HD-4 (Lance Gooden over Stuart Spitzer), HD-55 (Hugh Shine over Molly White), HD-92 (Scott Fisher over Jonathan Stickland), HD-94 (Andrew Piel over Tony Tinderholt) and HD-115 (Bennett Ratliff over Matt Rinaldi).

Vernie R. Glasson III plans to step down as executive director and chief operating officer of the Texas Farm Bureau in July after 27 years leading the organization, the organization announced Monday.

Deaths: Jim Nichols, 92, who became the first president of civil engineering firm Freese and Nichols in 1977 after serving 21 years as partner. He later served as the firm’s board chairman and chairman emeritus.

Disclosure: The Texas Farm Bureau is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.