Tag Archives: Texas Monthly

10 Best and Worst Legislators List is Live on Twitter @TexasMonthly

Love it or hate it, it is now 11:30 AM on Wedensday, time for Paul Burka’s 10 Best and Worst Legislators list!

Watch Burka unveil the list live on Twitter @texasmonthly and search for the twitter hashtag #tmbestworst to join the conversation.

Texas Tribune Tries to One Up Paul Burka’s Best and Worst Legislators List

Yesterday the Texas Tribune tried to one up Paul Burka’s infamous 10 Best and Worst Legislators List with their own version of it, “Inside Intelligence: The Best and Worst Were…

Texas Tribune’s attempt to one up Burka appears to have hit a nerve, Burka posted on his blog the following statement.

The main comment I would make about the Texas Tribune‘s Insiders’ list is that it doesn’t have any criteria. And I realize that’s not its purpose. This is really more like a vote for eighth grade president. The only criteria is who do we like and who don’t we like?

This was a pretty bold move by Texas Tribune considering that Texas Monthly teamed up with the Texas Tribune to join their series of “Trib Live” conversations to discuss Burka’s 10 Best and Worst Legislators list on Thursday morning follow the official release of the list Wedensday morning.

Love Burka and his list, or hate him and his list, the list will be for better or worse the talk of the capitol for the next week.  Burka will unveil his 10 Best and Worst Legislators list live on Texas Monthly’s twitter account, @texasmonthly,tomorrow, Wednesday, starting at 11:30 AM.  Don’t forget to follow the twitter hashtag #tmbestworst to join the conversation.

From the Burka Blog

Two more house district polls show Perry widening his lead posted by paulburka at 8:46 PM I received this information about polls that were taken in two House districts, HD 3 (Homer) and HD 47 (Bolton). The first poll is from HD 3. The pollster was Chris Wilson. Fair warning: Both polls were sent to me by a source close to the Perry campaign:

Perry 47

KBH 26

Medina 13

Undecided 14

In HD 47 (Mike Baselice poll):

Perry 45

KBH 26

Medina 19

Undecided 9

The obvious thing that jumps out is Medina’s number, in Travis County yet. Obviously she is taking more votes from Hutchison than from Perry.

Was the Hutchison Poll Phony?

Paul Burka with Texas Monthly calls out KBH for the fishy poll her campaign released last week.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Was the Hutchison poll phony?

posted by paulburka at 11:51 AM

In the light of Monday’s Rasmussen poll, which showed Perry with a ten-point lead—one point less than he had in November—one has to wonder: What was the Hutchison campaign up to when they announced on January 12 that their internal polling showed KBH with a two-point lead? (Hutchison 34.9%, Perry 32.9%, Medina 2.7%) I chose not write about this poll for the following reasons: (1) It reeked of a certain commodity found in cow pastures. It was too much of an outlier from all other polls in this race. (2) The KBH campaign did not release the kind of supporting information that might have buttressed the credibility of the poll. If supporting documentation existed, the news that she had taken the lead would have been such a huge boost to her campaign that she would have released everything the campaign could muster to make the poll credible. The campaign’s failure to do so strongly suggested that the poll was suspect. (3) As Harvey Kronberg and others have pointed out, the proportion of undecided voters—26%—was highly unusual for a race featuring two well known candidates who between them have been polling around 80% of the vote (81% in the November Rasmussen poll). (4) The Perry campaign had previously released a Mike Baselice poll in December showing Perry ahead by 13 points, 49% to 36%. While this poll likewise did not provide a lot of documentation, it was in line with previous polls.

So, what really happened here? Did the campaign pressure its pollster to provide a favorable poll? Didn’t they know that Rasmussen has been polling the race every two months and that their poll would be exposed within days?

There are many ways in which a poll could be tilted to produce a desired result. Kronberg mentioned several in the link I provided above. (He did not suggest that any of these techniques had actually been used):

First, the sampling could have been of one time Republican primary voters. The GOP primary doubled in size last year, so that could be a rich environment. One long standing thesis has been that the larger the turnout, the better Hutchison will do.

Second, the pollster could have simply tested self-identified Republicans, whether or not they ever voted in a primary. This group would likely have more undecideds than traditional primary voters.

Third, [the polling firm] could have used an “informed ballot” which is different from a push poll although the two are often confused. An informed ballot typically tests the candidates’ head to head numbers on the front end, but then asks a series of questions that challenge the respondents perceptions about the candidate. The informed ballot is legitimate in that it tests questions that can move voters.

However the poll arrived at its result, it seems to me that only two possibilities exist for why it produced the result it did. Either it was very bad work, or it was very good work, if you get what I mean.


An interesting article from the new Texas Tribune about the KBH campaign blocking Texas Monthly scribe Paul Burka from participating in the upcoming KERA debate.


by Ross Ramsey
December 23, 2009  |  4

He thinks the decision reflects badly on Hutchison and on KERA. He says he’s not upset to be off-camera this time. “I’ll watch the debate and I’ll blog about it. That’s what I do.”

He and Hutchison have known each other for 40 years. She worked as chief of staff to then-Rep. Ed Harris, D-Galveston, in the 1960s, and Burka took the job when she left it to go to law school at UT. And while he’s been critical of her race for governor, he also says, “she has been a very good senator.”

Burka says he’s been writing critical things about politicians for ages. “As a magazine writer, I’m an opinion journalist, too. I’ve always had opinions,” he says.

Enlarge photo by: Matthew Chastain Wright – Flickr

Paul Burka, executive editor at Texas Monthly.

Paul Burka, the dean of Texas political writers, won’t be asking questions when the Republican gubernatorial candidates debate next month. He’s been banned.

“I didn’t like the idea of it,” says Terry Sullivan, campaign manager for candidate Kay Bailey Hutchison. “He’s got his mind made up on the race.”

Texas Monthly, where Burka works as executive editor, writer, and a popular blogger, was a sponsor of the debate. When the chief sponsor — KERA-TV in Dallas — told the magazine they were welcome to send any panelist except for Burka, the magazine not only declined to substitute someone but also pulled its name off the January 14 event. Other sponsors — KERA, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, KTVT-TV in Dallas, Univision, and the Texas Association of Broadcasters — remain.

“We were dismayed at what they decided to do, and surprised, given Paul Burka’s involvement in past debates,” says Jake Silverstein, the magazine’s editor. “We stand behind everything he does, and we consider his voice our voice on Texas politics.”

Burka has been a fixture in political debates in the state since at least 1988, when he was on the panel at SMU in Dallas that grilled presidential candidates. He was one of the questioners in a debate in 1993 before Hutchison won a U.S. Senate seat in a special election; in the 1994 debate between Ann Richards and George W. Bush before Bush won that election; the Rick Perry-Tony Sanchez debate in 2002 that led to Perry’s first full term as governor; and in the John Cornyn-Rick Noriega debate in 2008 before Cornyn’s reelection that year. That’s just a sampling: Burka’s a regular fixture.

Or was, before his now four-year-old blog became popular enough to catch the attention of campaigns, and of public broadcasters.

“KERA and NPR both have policies against opinion writers” in debates, says Meg Fullwood, a spokeswoman for KERA in Dallas. She said the debate panel would consist solely of “straight reporters” and that Burka, because of some of his writings on the popular BurkaBlog — a part of the magazine’s website — didn’t qualify.

The debate panelists will be Shelley Kofler of KERA, Maria Corrales of Univision, Dave Montgomery of the Star-Telegram, and Doug Dunbar of KTVT.

Sullivan says Burka has written a number of snarky things that make it inappropriate for the writer to sit among Hutchison’s televised inquisitors next month. A sampling:

On the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll at the beginning of November: “The results underscore how abysmal Hutchison’s campaign has been. Her handling of her resignation, or non-resignation, from the Senate has made her look weak and indecisive. She comes across as lacking self-confidence. And lacking ideas. To make matters worse, she is down by 12 after a six-week stretch during which Perry was hammered by the media, a time during which she had a chance to gain ground. She continues to pursue a strategy of single-shot criticisms of Perry without giving any definition to her own candidacy. She is now at the same level in the polls that Perry was at the beginning of the race. The problem here is not the campaign. It’s the candidate.”

After a Rasmussen Poll a couple of weeks later that showed Hutchison behind: “The temptation is to say that the race is over, but I’m going to resist it, because of two factors. One is that the media campaign hasn’t started yet. The other is that Hutchison may yet find a way to enlarge primary turnout, though the constant negative attacks of the two campaigns is more likely to suppress turnout.”

• After seeing her first campaign ad: “If she gets in a TV debate with Perry on Texas issues, she’d better have EMS on hand because she is going to get slaughtered… If this is the best she can do, she ought to quit the race.”

• The next week: “If there was any life to the Hutchison candidacy, it would appear in her first media spot. The spot, of course, turned out to be an utter disaster: no sign of intelligent life here.”

• And, finally, a headline from just before Thanksgiving: “One more sign that the Hutchison campaign is intellectually bankrupt.”

Burka has written opinion pieces, along with longer feature articles, for Texas Monthly for years. But those — with their much wider audiences — never set off the public broadcasters’ alarms. “It was the blog… a couple of comments; in particular, one about ‘EMS’,” Fullwood says.

She also says the sponsors weren’t prompted by any of the campaigns: “Not at all… this was all internal.”

Christian Proud to Again be a Target of Liberal Media

The only Christian in the Texas House is once again proud to be honored by Texas Monthly!

For Immediate Release                                                                                                           Contact: Ellen Troxclair

December 18, 2009                                                                                                                                    (512)463-0556

Christian Proud to Again be a Target of Liberal Media

Center, TX – As a strong voice in the conservative movement and the President of the Texas Conservative Coalition, Representative Wayne Christian (R-Center) is a favorite target for liberal, Austin-based publications like Texas Monthly.  So, it comes as no surprise that he has been named a “bum steer” of 2010.

“The fact that I have been a constant target of this far-left publication means that I am doing something right for the conservative movement,” commented Rep. Christian.  “These awards are an easy way for editors to pick on legislators who don’t align with their liberal ideologies.  I am proud to be their adversary.”

Rep. Christian has been consistently recognized for his protection of free markets, support of private property rights, commitment to responsible government spending, and promotion of family and faith focused legislation.

This past session, he supported Representative Mike Hamilton’s amendment that strengthened the private property rights of coastal citizens whose houses had been destroyed by Hurricane Ike.  Residents were faced with fighting off seizure of their land by the government because of the overreaching interpretation of Texas’ beach laws.  Contrary to the report in Texas Monthly, this so called “stealth” amendment was filed on May 6th, weeks prior to its passage.

Rep. Christian continued, “As an outspoken advocate for private property rights, it would be unnatural for me not to take a stance on this issue.  I do believe that all Texas residents have a right to access our public beaches, but that doesn’t mean that the government should have a free-for-all seizure of private land every time we endure a natural disaster.  There must be a balance.”

Earlier this year, Texas Monthly honored Rep. Christian by naming him one of the “worst legislators.”  Editors criticized his “socially conservative playbook,” which included carrying legislation to abolish property taxes, require drug tests in order to receive state aid, eliminate scholarships for illegal aliens, and protect private property rights.

Meanwhile, Rep. Christian has received numerous accolades from conservative organizations.  Recent awards include being named Legislator of the Year by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Patriot of the Constitution by the Founder’s Alliance (a national organization that grew from the East Texas tea party movement), Taxpayer Hero by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Most Conservative by the Texas Eagle Forum, a Conservative Leader by the Heritage Alliance, receiving a perfect score from the Texas Association of Business, and a 100% Conservative Voting Record from Texas Insider.

“What’s important to me is that I represent the ideals of the residents from my district, whether magazine editors like it or not,” said Rep. Christian.  “The constant encouragement from constituents and conservative organizations alike motivates me to continue to represent the values of the conservative movement.”