- Court of appeals drops one charge against former Governor Rick Perry
- Trump Tours Texas-Mexico Border
- Kerry Defends Iran Nuclear Deal
- Trump Says Hispanics Love Him
- George Bush Senior Out Of ME. Hospital After Fall
- Abbott Accosted By Traveler Angered Over Gay-Marriage Stance
- Obama Challenges Critics Of Iran Nuclear Deal
- Abbott Orders Investigation Of Use Of Tissue From Abortions
- Local Opponents Of Gay Marriage Vow To Fight On
- Louisiana Gov. Jindal ready to jump into 2016 presidential race
- Abbott Signs Bill To Limit Pollution Lawsuits
- Young Protester Demands Veto Of Texas Budget Measure
- Commissioner To Leave HHSC As Deputy Takes Over
- Clinton: GOP Trying To Make It Difficult For People To Vote
- Perry Announces Presidential Run
- Travis County Gears Up To Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses
- Like Perry, Abbott Says He'll Leave Texas To Lure Businesses
- Texas Legislature Ends 2015 Session
- Abbott: Texas Won't Legalize Medicinal Or Recreational Pot
- Texas Legislature Ends 2015 Session
- 'Open Carry' Bill Heads To Gov. Abbott
- Austin's Top Cop Says Governor Needs To Step In On Open Carry
- Texas Senate Debating Major Open Carry Handgun Bill
- Texas House OKs Letting Clergy Refuse To Marry Gay Couples
- COA Spends $70K On Austin Code Ad Campaign
- Texas Senate Panel Passes Restrictions On Teen Abortions
- Perry Set To Announce Presidential Bid June 4 In Dallas
- Governor Abbott Signs Kari's Law for better 911 Access
- Texas Anti-Gay Marriage Bill In Limbo With Time Running Out
- House OKs Bill Restricting Minors Seeking Abortions
- Austin City Council Denounces Stereotypes In Training Session
- Supreme Court Rules Police Can't Extend Traffic Stops
- Senate Backs Allowing Pastors To Refuse To Marry Same-Sex Couples
- East Austin Could Get Luxury Golf Course
- Committee Votes Against Requiring Scrubbers For BBQ Food Trucks/Restaurants
- Waste Of Time: Texas House Votes To Keep Daylight Savings
- Senate Gives High Sign To Limited Medical Marijuana
- Pot Legalization Bill Clears House Panel
- School Shooting Victims, Families Voice Against Campus Carry
- Petition May Put Fluoridation Before San Marcos Voters
- Senate Votes To Keep Abbott Promise, Scrap Perry Tech Fund
- Abbott at Rally for Charter Schools at Capitol
- Texas House Approves Slicing State Sales Taxes For 1st Time
- Texas House Approves Licensed Open Carry Of Handguns
- Texas Pushes Closer To Licensed Open Carry Of Handguns
- Employers Warn $15 Wage Will Cause Problems
- Democratic House Technicality Halts 'Open Carry' -- For Now
- Buda May Buy Water San Marcos Doesn't Use
- 11 Year Old Testifies to Pass Suicide Prevention Bill
- Mayor Adler: Change Needed To Address Austin's Problems
2013 Closes Another Year Of Drama In Texas Politics
Updated: Tuesday, December 31 2013, 12:43 PM CST
Listen closely and you can almost hear the dramatic organs playing out another cliffhanger ending to the annual episode of Texas politics that was 2013.
To the die-hard viewer, it combined the best elements of soap opera and reality television with a generous sprinkling of pro wrestling spectacle to taste. New faces emerged while older ones passed on but the story lines from the Capitol to the campaign trail were rarely without the outsized drama that has defined the Lone Star State's particular brand of civics since the days of Moses Austin.
The year began with the opening of the 83rd Texas Legislature in January. By many accounts, it was one of the least rancorous meetings of that rowdy body in recent memory. That is until the explosive issue of abortion took things supernova. Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis catapulted to the national spotlight with an 11-hour filibuster that ended with a screaming gallery of supporters and a regular session with unfinished business.
Gov. Rick Perry quickly called a special session to come back and pass tough new restrictions on abortion in the state. He also told lawmakers to take up a new plan to finance water infrastructure projects in the drought-stricken state and also a proposal to detour billions of dollars to maintain and build new roads. Legislative congestion over the latter forced a second special session which lawmakers quickly resolved by approving the idea before the governor could find another reason to keep them busy in Austin.
The end of business at the Capitol unofficially opened up the jockeying to move up the professional political ladder in the state. Gov. Perry's decision to step aside after four terms in office at long last uncapped a geyser of ambitions that will promises to bring about the biggest change in the look of state of government in years.
State Sen. Davis and Attorney General Greg Abbott are both seeking their party's nominations to square off in the first open election for the governor's mansion since Ann Richards and Clayton Williams squared off a quarter of a century ago.
State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte's virtually uncontested run for the Democratic nod for lieutenant governor all but sets up the first two-woman tag team at the top of a statewide ticket. Meanwhile, on the Republican side of that primary fight, the four-way battle royal between incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, State Sen. Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, and Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples has been the must-watch race for fans of good old-fashioned Texas-style swagger and mud-slinging.
That is until Sen. John Cornyn drew an unexpected primary challenge in early December from outspoken conservative Congressman Steve Stockman. The underfunded Stockman launched his run with a screed labeling Cornyn a liberal and a puppet of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Meanwhile, Cornyn's junior colleague continued to blaze a rough-and-tumble trail that put him in contention with Pope Francis for Time magazine's Person of the Year. Sen. Ted Cruz dropped the hammer on his first day in Washington and kept his foot on the Tea Party gas-peddle throughout 2013. His efforts culminated in another high-profile marathon speaking session that proved, if anything, Texans on both sides of the aisle can talk. His twelve-hour monologue on the Senate floor didn't hold up or block any official business, but it did put his vehement opposition to the Affordable Care Act on the national map and earned him wide acclaim or derision – depending on who you talked to – as the mastermind of the federal government shutdown that plunged Republican poll numbers into a bucket of ice (the pendulum swung the other way when federal business resumed and attention turned to the disastrous roll-out of the federal health exchange web site). Cruz walked away from the fight as the undisputed champion of the Tea Party with the political momentum to enter the 2016 presidential race.
If Cruz does end up running, he could find himself in an intra-Texas civil war. Gov. Perry's post-lege activity left little doubt that the erstwhile presidential candidate would jump back into the fray in 2016. Coming off his epic flame-out performance in the 2012 Republican nomination race, Perry appeared to take a more strategic and methodical approach this year. Starring in a series of targeted ad campaigns, Perry blitzed into Democrat-controlled states to spread the gospel of Texas' low-tax, low-regulation business climate. His opponents accused him of poaching jobs but either way, it was a prime opportunity for Perry to appear in crucial battleground states to make his case as a successful leader.
Other major headlines in 2013 included the November election that saw voters passing a slew of new amendments to the State Constitution and having to use their ID's to cast a ballot for the very time under a contentious new law. The U.S. Supreme Court sent a case involving affirmative action in college admission brought by a former University of Texas student back to a lower court which is expected to make a ruling in early 2014. Meantime, the future of state politics is anything but predictable as national Democrats pour in money to the group Battleground Texas and old guard Republican billionaire donors have passed away. Tune in next year to see what happens.
By Caleb Pritchard, KEYE TV News Producer