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Sunday
Jan272019

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen names committee chairs

                  By Cassandra Pollock

                  January 23, 2019

Of the five Texas House committees considered to be the most powerful, three will have new chairs this session.

State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond will again head the budget-planning Appropriations Committee, the House announced Wednesday. State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, will retain his post as chairman of the House Administration Committee.

Two other committees — Ways and Means and State Affairs — were already guaranteed new chairmen due to departures. New House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, who chaired the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee in 2017, has tapped state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, to fill his shoes. Burrows also chairs the Texas House Republican Caucus. And state Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, will oversee the State Affairs Committee, replacing former state Rep. Byron Cook, a Corsicana Republican who did not seek re-election. Phelan, who told The Texas Tribune after assignments were announced that his appointment to chair is “a huge honor,” will oversee a committee that will have even more jurisdiction over some of the House’s most high-profile legislation this session, thanks to a new set of rules the lower chamber passed earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the Calendars Committee will have a new chair this session. State Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, will replace state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, at Calendars, leading the committee that handles the timeline and order for which bills will — and won’t — reach the entire chamber for consideration.

 “I don’t want a single member to feel apart from this House after these committee assignments are made,” Bonnen told House members before assignments were announced on the floor of the lower chamber. “I’m certain there are errors that will be found. … It’s not because we intended them to occur.”

These assignments are among the first major glimpses into who Bonnen considers top allies in the House. And now that assignments have been announced, legislation can begin to move through the lower chamber as bills are referred to committees.

In another shift, Bonnen tapped state Rep. Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat, to serve as speaker pro tem, a position that Bonnen held under former House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio.

In total, Democrats, fresh off a 12-seat pickup during the November elections, also made considerable gains with House committee assignments. Twelve Democrats were either appointed or retained chairmanships to the House’s 34 standing committees. Some of the more notable appointments happened on the Higher Education and Transportation Committees, where two Democrats — Chris Turner of Grand Prairie and Terry Canales of Edinburg — replaced Republicans J.M. Lozano of Kingsville and Geanie Morrison of Victoria as chair, respectively.

During the 2017 session under Straus, 13 Democrats held chairmanships on the lower chamber’s 38 standing committees.

Beyond partisan lines, Bonnen’s office said Wednesday that of the 34 standing committees this session, 19 chairs and 22 vice-chairs are women, black, Hispanic or Asian-American. Additionally, 15 chairs will be serving in that capacity for the first time.

A number of other chairmen also retained their posts, including state Rep. Dan Huberty, a Houston Republican who will again head the Public Education Committee. That committee will all but certainly play a central role in the debate over school finance — an item the Legislature has billed as a must-do issue this session. State Rep. Diego Bernal, a Democrat from San Antonio, will also continue to serve as vice-chair of the committee.

In another announcement Wednesday, state Rep. Tom Craddick, a Midland Republican who was House speaker from 2003-09, was appointed chair of the Land and Resource Management Committee. It will be Craddick's first time serving as a committee chair since the 1997 session. Craddick, who began serving in the House in 1969, is the longest-serving member in the lower chamber.

                   "Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen names committee chairs" was first published at  by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Sunday
Jan272019

Dan Patrick announces Senate committee assignments, making a few noticeable shifts

                  By Emma Platoff

                  January 18, 2019

The shifts at the top of Senate committees, announced by the lieutenant governor Friday, were few but noticeable — with moving parts in the Republican Party making way for some senators to chief committees for the first time, a thorough snub that may deepen an existing rift and little headway for Democrats despite electoral victories in November.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick named 14 Republicans and two Democrats chairs of the Senate’s 16 committees, meaning no gains for the chamber’s minority party despite an increase in the number of committees. Houston Democrat John Whitmire, the Senate’s longest-serving member, continues to chair the Criminal Justice Committee, and Eddie Lucio, a moderate Democrat of Brownsville, continues to helm the Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

All but five of the Senate’s 19 Republicans are chairmen; of the five, three are freshman and one had yielded his prominent position in the wake of an inconclusive sexual harassment investigation.

“These committee assignments reflect the proven leadership, commitment, solid work ethic and wide range of expertise of the thirty-one senators who have been elected by the people of Texas to represent them,” Patrick said in a statement. “I am confident they can make this the most productive and successful legislative session in Texas history.”

Perhaps the most notable shakeup came for state Sen. Kel Seliger, an Amarillo Republican who has sometimes found himself at odds with the lieutenant governor over his more moderate views. Seliger lost his longtime position as chair on the Senate Higher Education Committee and even his membership on the committee; he was also taken off the public education committee and the powerful finance committee. State Sen. Brandon Creighton, a Conroe Republican, will take over higher education; Seliger was named chair of the Senate’s new Agriculture Committee, a smaller committee split off from the Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs Committee.

Seliger and Patrick have had squabbles in the past, if they remained relatively low-temperature. Patrick stayed quiet on Seliger’s re-election bid, but his top political consultant — Houston-based Allen Blakemore — ran the campaign of Victor Leal, who unsuccessfully challenged Seliger in the Republican primary. And Seliger was the only Republican senator who didn’t endorse Patrick’s re-election campaign, saying he was focused on his own race.

Seliger said he looks forward to championing agricultural issues and that education legislation will remain a top priority. But the senator, who’s back in his Panhandle-area district for the long weekend, said many in the area are feeling “dismayed and disrespected.”

“It’s not what I desired,” Seliger said in a phone interview Friday afternoon. “There’s a negative reaction in this district, because [the finance committee] is a good position to try and do the things that are important in an area in West Texas that seems to have to fight for everything, from a budgetary point of view.”

“I know exactly what motivated the change. It was a couple of ‘no’ votes for the lieutenant governor’s priorities in 2017,” the longtime higher education chairman said. “It was a very clear warning to the Republicans that if you get off the reservation, you better be careful.”

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, the Houston Republican and tax consultant, was named chair of the Senate’s new five-member committee on property taxes — a plum position, and little surprise, given Bettencourt’s leadership on tax proposals in the past.

“Texans have made it clear that they will not stand for anything less than meaningful property tax reform and relief this legislative session,” Bettencourt said in a statement. “The Senate Committee on Property Tax will be getting to work right away!"

Of the Senate’s six incoming freshmen, two Republicans won the highest posts: McKinney Republican Angela Paxton was named vice chair of the property tax committee, which will shepherd this session’s priority legislation; and Pat Fallon, a Prosper Republican who previously served in the House, was named vice chair of the Senate Administration Committee.

Beverly Powell, a Burleson Democrat and a longtime school board trustee, won a coveted spot on the public education committee — another subgroup that is likely to be in the spotlight this session. Sen. Larry Taylor kept his spot as chair of that committee.

Lois Kolkhorst, the Brenham Republican who last session chaired the Senate Administration Committee and carried one of the lieutenant governor’s top priorities, was appointed to lead the powerful Health & Human Services Committee. The former committee chair, Georgetown Republican Charles Schwertner, gave up his position after a University of Texas at Austin Title IX investigation found that “evidence does not support a finding” that he had sent lewd texts to a graduate student.

Sen. Jane Nelson, the upper chamber’s veteran budget-writer, kept her post at the top of the Senate Finance Committee — as foreshadowed by a playful exchange on the floor earlier this week.

"If committee assignments come out, I would like to announce that — if I were chair — I would announce that Finance Committee will start working on Tuesday," Nelson told the chamber as senators adjourned on Wednesday for the long weekend.

"I think you will be there, I feel pretty confident of that, with all your work on the budget," Patrick responded. "And I think you'll be ready to go on Tuesday."

                  "Dan Patrick announces Senate committee assignments, making a few noticeable shifts" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Friday
Jan112019

Texas House names Dennis Bonnen new speaker on celebratory opening day

 

            By Cassandra Pollock, Edgar Walters, Alex Samuels and Emma Platoff

            January 8, 2019

 

                  A gray fog descended on Austin Tuesday morning, but the scene inside the Texas Capitol was one of colorful festivities to mark the first day of the 86th biennial legislative session.

And perhaps the heartiest celebration took place in the Texas House, where lawmakers whooped and hollered after the unanimous election of state Rep. Dennis Bonnen as House speaker.

Bonnen’s election marks a new era of leadership in the lower chamber for the first time in a decade. The Angleton Republican replaced former House Speaker Joe Straus, who announced in October 2017 that he would not seek re-election. Straus, a San Antonio Republican who was elected in 2009, held a record-tying five terms in the House’s top seat.

Whereas Straus was known as a mild-mannered leader, Bonnen has developed more of a combatant's reputation in the House. He seemed to lean into that perception in his remarks. "I’ve never seen the use in sugarcoating things," Bonnen said. "I am direct and I am a problem solver."

Lawmakers praised his leadership ability in a series of speeches preceding the vote. State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, a Houston Democrat with 45 years of experience in the House, drew a standing ovation for her remarks, in which she said Bonnen “has learned the ins and the outs of the Texas House as well as anyone I’ve ever served."

The new speaker pledged to keep the Texas Legislature from getting "caught up in things that don't lead to real results." He named public school funding as his top priority, in addition to school safety, combating human trafficking and reforming property tax collection. He even went so far as to replace the drinking cups in the House members' lounge with new ones reading, "School finance reform: The time is now."

"You will be reminded every day," Bonnen said.

Bonnen's election was hardly a surprise; he first announced he had the votes to become the next leader of the lower chamber in November, working behind the scenes to assemble a transition team and hire a staff to assume the speaker’s office. In his closing remarks, after asking for unity among House members, he gave a tearful tribute to his father, recalling some advice from the elder Bonnen, who passed away in 2017.

"Let's be sure when we adjourn sine die we leave this House and this state better than we found it," he said. "There's a saying we have in Texas: As Texas goes, so goes the nation."

Gov. Greg Abbott praised Bonnen's "tenacity" and echoed some of his legislative priorities in a speech to the lower chamber. "You have the ability — and we will achieve it — that we are going to reform school finance in the state of Texas this session," Abbott said. "And we are going to reform property taxes in Texas this session."

Meanwhile, the leader of the Texas Senate, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, was conspicuously absent on opening day. “He was called by the White House to discuss some issues that are critical to Texas," said state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, who presided over the chamber in Patrick’s stead. Patrick's office later said the meeting was about border security.

Before a crowd of doting spouses and toddling grandchildren, Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht administered the oath of office to a slate of new and returning state senators. Among them were state Sen. Charles Schwertner, who gave up his powerful committee chairmanship last week after an inconclusive sexual harassment investigation, and incoming state Sen. Angela Paxton, who was accompanied by her husband, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Nelson, performing a duty traditionally left to the lieutenant governor, joked that she was certainly the first grandmother of 11 to gavel in a session of the Texas Legislature. Soon after, state Sen. Kirk Watson, an Austin Democrat and the former mayor of the capital city, was elected president pro tempore, a ceremonial role that puts him third in line for the governorship after Patrick.

Other visitors and guests of all stripes had gathered at the Capitol hours earlier, with palpable enthusiasm for another 140-day marathon of state government.

This massive pink granite structure is the site where, over the next five months, the two legislative bodies will make decisions that shape the daily lives of nearly 30 million people for the next two years. How crowded will student classrooms be? Where will new highways be built? Who deserves publicly funded health care?

But those debates will come later. On Tuesday, the mood was a mix of anticipation and nostalgia; for some the scene played out like the first day of school, for others a class reunion. Giddy celebration punctuated the pomp and circumstance.

The festivities reached all corners of the building.

Huddled in the Capitol’s rotunda, a group dubbed the “resistance choir” gathered for a finger-snapping rendition of Meghan Trainor’s “Dear Future Husband.” The group’s left-leaning membership has steeled itself for another difficult session in the Republican-led Legislature, but today, a kind of truce held.

“We’re just excited to be here. Today, we’re not here to protest,” said Anne Withrow, one of group’s members.

Elsewhere, children clutched their parents' hands and seemed eager to have their photos taken inside the historic building. Hustling around them, lobbyists sporting sharp business suits, phones pressed to their ears, shuffled upstairs to convene outside the House and Senate chambers. A few state lawmakers, too, shook hands with constituents and visitors.

A hoard of people outside dressed in Rastafarian green, gold and red held flags with pro-marijuana messages plastered to them. Across the street, in front of the Governor’s Mansion, climate scientists and activists assembled at a podium to call on Abbott to address global warming. By early afternoon, when the swearing-in ceremonies were finished and lawmakers adjourned for the day, the fog had dissipated.

Patrick Svitek contributed to this report.

                  "Texas House names Dennis Bonnen new speaker on celebratory opening day" was first published at  by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

 

Friday
Nov302018

From staying out to declaring victory, how Dennis Bonnen ended the speaker's race in a weekend

                 By Cassandra Pollock, Alex Samuels and Emma Platoff

                  November 12, 2018

On a Sunday night in October, a group of about 40 Republican members of the Texas House met in Austin to work out a problem: A year had passed since Speaker Joe Straus announced he was retiring — and while six candidates to replace him had emerged, none had surfaced as the clear frontrunner.

Their goal was to change that, and many had their eyes on someone who wasn’t even in the race — or in the room that night. They wanted someone who would protect the independence of the 150-member lower chamber, even if that meant standing up to other state leaders. They wanted someone who aligned ideologically with a majority of Republicans, a concern some members had expressed with the current field of candidates. And they wanted someone who they thought had a viable path to victory — securing at least 76 of the 150 votes when the House voted on its next leader in January.

The choice, at least for some members in the room, seemed clear: They wanted state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, a 46-year-old Angleton Republican who had spent almost half of his life in the House. Bonnen, a shrewd tactician and top ally of Straus, had emerged over the past decade as one of the lower chamber's most outspoken members, going to bat for the House over high profile issues like property tax reform and border security.

Getting him the gavel wouldn’t be easy. Just months before, Bonnen had waved off suggestions he’d run to replace Straus. And given Bonnen’s political leanings and reputation for combativeness, not everyone would be on board.

But two days after the October meeting, Bonnen said he was in. The path was laid for him to be the next speaker.

“We felt confident Dennis was the guy.”

Prior to that meeting, Bonnen seemed almost repulsed with the idea of being speaker.

In May, The Texas Tribune published a list of potential speaker candidates, one of whom was Bonnen. He quickly dumped cold water on the rumors, going so far as to joke that such talk upset his family.

His Republican colleagues had other ideas. According to the House lawmakers who orchestrated the October meeting, Bonnen’s history of standing up for the House — coupled with his ability to unify both Republicans and Democrats — was top of mind when they decided to recruit him for the job.

“We looked at the body and said, ‘This is the person we think that’s going to get there,’” said state Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster. "We knew that Dennis ... could cross over to guys like [former House] Speaker [Tom] Craddick down to incoming freshmen like [Republican] Brad Buckley. We felt confident Dennis was the guy, and we just worked to make sure everyone saw what we saw.”

Ideologically, Bonnen sits close to the party’s right-most flank — a political science professor’s unofficial list ranks him as more conservative than half of Republicans in the 150-member chamber. That had the potential to make him more palatable to the chamber's more conservative members, who resented that the more moderate Straus was elected with the help of Democrats, and who were pushing for the next speaker to be selected solely by members of the GOP.

But Bonnen had also held leadership positions under Straus, who twice named him chair of the powerful budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee and three times appointed him House speaker pro tempore.

Bonnen had also developed a reputation as tough-minded under Straus — someone who was willing to skirmish with the Republican leader of the upper chamber, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who some House members believed attempted to push his agenda at the expense of the House. Bonnen said in 2015 that he viewed his role as “standing up for the House.” That year, he did so over a border security bill that he authored and that passed through the House with little opposition — then stalled in the Senate.

“For some reason, Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor, wants to bring the same bad Washington, always politically-gaming concepts to Austin instead of solving problems,” Bonnen said at the time.

With Monday's development, some lawmakers predicted that more fights between the two chambers might be on the horizon. But both sides struck conciliatory tones.

In a statement Monday evening, Patrick congratulated Bonnen and said he looked forward to “building a close partnership with him moving forward.” Bonnen said that he looked forward to working with the lieutenant governor, but also made clear he plans to stay in the role of top House cheerleader during next year’s legislative session.

“We’re gonna be the House,” he said at a press conference Monday afternoon. “When the House stands together, it does great things. And this Texas House is going to do great things.”

A bumpy road

Even with many House Republicans who attended the October meeting backing his speaker bid, Bonnen’s entrance into the race wasn’t smooth sailing.

Some attendees hoped to release a list of members who were behind Bonnen, but that list never publicly materialized. Meanwhile, House Democrats opted to keep their powder dry as their GOP colleagues continued plotting behind the scenes. Many said they believed it was too early to throw their support behind a single candidate with the makeup of the lower chamber still in flux ahead of the November election.

Then, the minority party picked up 12 seats in the lower chamber — a feat that members from both parties said would considerably change the dynamic of the race.

The day after Election Day, nearly 60 members of the soon-to-be 67-member House Democratic Caucus met in Austin to introduce new members and discuss the state of the speaker’s race. While some members insisted on taking their time before throwing their support behind a single candidate, others privately suggested the wiser move was to build on the momentum from the election and back their preferred candidate ahead of a House GOP caucus meeting scheduled for Dec. 1, when the 87-member group of Republican lawmakers was planning to coalesce behind its preferred speaker candidate.

Despite differences among Democrats on how best to move forward, the caucus was making moves to appear unified. On Friday evening, the group’s chair, state Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, told members in an email that a majority of the caucus had already signed an agreement pledging to vote together for a speaker candidate.

Only problem was, Democrats weren’t sure who to throw their support behind.

Building momentum

For Bonnen, the race was just heating up.

At the October meeting, state Rep. John Zerwas, a Richmond Republican who is more of a centrist, boosted Bonnen's candidacy by withdrawing from the race. But the real momentum for Bonnen picked up the weekend after the election, when the field of speaker candidates dwindled down to four, and eventually, one.

On Saturday, Four Price, an Amarillo Republican, decided it was time to drop out and endorse Bonnen. Price’s departure, which became official the next day, knocked the number of candidates down to six. His exit — and his endorsement of Bonnen — set off a domino effect. State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, said Sunday he was ending his candidacy and would support Bonnen.

At that point, only one serious alternative was available. If members didn’t want to back Bonnen, they could hope for a deal between the two candidates left in the race, Republican state Reps. Drew Darby of San Angelo and Travis Clardy of Nacogdoches.

Some House Democrats had privately said that a majority of their party would prefer to support Darby — another top Straus ally who was more aligned with the moderate wing of the GOP and who, according to two people familiar with the matter, was set to pick up an endorsement from Clardy. But as Clardy and Darby were finalizing their arrangement, state Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, announced he, too, was dropping out.

The outlook for Bonnen seemed almost certain; he called a news conference for 3 p.m. at the Texas Capitol. After that, state Rep. Eric Johnson, the lone Democrat in the race, dropped out and endorsed Bonnen.

At the news conference, Bonnen announced he had support from 109 of the 150 House members for speaker, well above the 76-vote threshold.

“We’re here to let you know that the Texas speaker’s race is over,” said Bonnen, who was flanked by roughly a dozen House Republicans and Democrats. “The House is ready to go.”

Soon after, Clardy and Darby ended their bids, and Bonnen released his list of supporters, which included lawmakers from across the ideological spectrum. For many of the remaining holdouts, Bonnen's triple-digit support seemed insurmountable, even with weeks to go until the formal speaker's vote. By Monday night, even Darby — who just hours before was being positioned as the alternative to Bonnen — seemed to acknowledge that was true on stage at a Texas Tribune event.

“I have already sent Bonnen a congratulatory message,” Darby said.

 

Brandon Formby contributed reporting.

                  "From staying out to declaring victory, how Dennis Bonnen ended the speaker's race in a weekend" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Thursday
Sep062018

Analysis: Will a split Texas electorate split the 2018 ticket?

                  By Ross Ramsey, Texas Tribune

                  August 29, 2018

If the November 2018 election results bear much resemblance to recent polls, Texas — which hasn’t been a swing state for a long time — would have to reveal a purple streak.

In a place where Republicans and Democrats seem to disagree so strongly and so consistently, recent polls hint at a new kind of animal in Texas politics: An O’Rourke-Abbott voter.

Several summertime polls show a single-digit difference between the Texas contenders for the U.S. Senate — and a big double-digit difference between the candidates for governor.

The latest version of this came this week in a poll from Emerson College, which found Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz leading his challenger, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, 38 percent to 37 percent. That poll found Gov. Greg Abbott leading Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez 49 percent to 28 percent.

It’s just one poll, but it illustrates a gap evident in other polling this year. The gap varies in size, but it persists. A June University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, for instance, had the Senate candidates 5 percentage points apart and the candidates for governor 12 points apart. A Quinnipiac Poll at the first of the month had Cruz up by 6 percentage points and Abbott up by 13 percentage points. An NBC News/Marist poll last week had a four-point spread in the Senate race and a 19-point spread in the governor’s race.

The numbers vary, but the differences are significant. That suggests that up to a sixth of the state’s voters might choose a candidate from one party in the top race on the ticket, and then switch parties when they vote for a gubernatorial candidate. That’s an awful lot of middle ground to cover.

That kind of gap was a lot more common before Texas Republicans started their unbroken winning streak in statewide elections in 1996. And ending this political cycle with a marked difference in results in the top two statewide races would also reveal something unusual in the state’s polarized electorate: Swing voters.

Browse through Texas election results from the last quarter century and gaps like this are generally small.

Donald Trump won by 9 percentage points in 2016; Wayne Christian, the next statewide Republican on the ballot, won his race for railroad commissioner by 15 points, a 6-percentage point difference.

The victory margins of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Gov. Abbott — the top Republicans in 2014 — were 3 percentage points apart. Two years earlier, Mitt Romney and Cruz each won by 16 percentage points. John McCain and Cornyn each won by 12 percentage points four years earlier. You get the idea.

Differences like those suggested by this year’s polls (remember the pollster’s incantation: “Polls are not predictions, polls are not predictions...”) are relatively rare.

One resulted from a peculiar governor’s election. In 2006, then-Gov. Rick Perry, with three big-time opponents on the general election ballot, won by 9 percentage points (with just 39 percent overall). U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison won re-election by 26 percentage points — a long way ahead of Perry. Likewise, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst won by 20 percentage points. Perry’s opponents, remember, included erstwhile Republican Carole Keeton (her ballot surname changed over the years, as her marital status did), running as an independent, and also Kinky Friedman, a singer and comic who, like Keeton, collected a respectable number of votes. It was a weird year.

Before that, the biggest gap was in 1998. Republicans swept those elections, but they didn’t have much room for comfort; it was the last truly strong finish for Texas Democrats in statewide elections. Then-Gov. George Bush coasted to reelection over Democrat Garry Mauro by 27 percentage points. But Perry won the lieutenant governor race by just 2 points, and Keeton was elected comptroller by 0.55 percentage points.

That’s what a swing state ballot looks like, with voters who split their tickets, choosing one party’s candidate in this race and another’s in that one. Look at 1994: Hutchison won by 23 percentage points, Bush by 7. Bob Bullock, a Democrat, won the lieutenant governor’s race by 23 percentage points. Down the ballot, Perry, a Republican, was winning the agriculture race by 26 percentage points.

To recap, the distance between the biggest Democratic win and the biggest Republican win was 49 percentage points.

Texans don’t seem ready to go back to that. But these early polls suggest that some of them are thinking about it.

 

                  "Analysis: Will a split Texas electorate split the 2018 ticket?" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.