The Austin Chronicle

Scorecard: Grading the CenTex Delegation

June 12, 2009, News


Elliott Naishtat: A

Critics call him a liberal windmill-tilter in a conservative state, but the 38 bills he authored and co-authored that made it to the governor mean he's a progressive success.

Dawnna Dukes: A–

After seemingly risking expulsion during the 2008 primaries, Dukes fought for every good cent that made it through the budget process.

Kirk Watson: A–

After fighting for the state to take its crumbling infrastructure seriously, Watson made himself a Senate success with the slate of family issues bills he pushed through via bipartisan negotiations.

Jeff Wentworth: A–

Rarely has any legislator so accurately reflected the political contradictions of his own district. His gun-love frustrates, but his bipartisan approach to electoral reform is peerless.

Donna Howard: B+

She won headlines by taking on the State Board of Education, but the sweeping health-care reforms in Senate Bill 7 she saved by folding it into her House Bill 1218 built up some serious political collateral.

Eddie Rodriguez: B+

The quiet visionary of the Travis County delegation turns radical and innovative concepts into solid policy but needs to move more prominently into the public eye.

Mark Strama: B+

Getting a new committee built around him proves he's a rising star; next session will determine how far he goes.

Valinda Bolton: B

The sophomore lost bills in the session's grind, but when the Lege finally decides to deal with urban county affairs, her grasp of the issues will make her a leader.

– Richard Whittaker


Diana Maldonado: B++

Named freshman of the year by the Legislative Study Group, the Round Rock rep scored several local victories, obtaining more than $17 million in funding for higher education in her district and winning passage of a bill to let Taylor and Hutto draw on hotel occupancy taxes to pay for recreational upgrades.

Patrick Rose: B

Big wins included securing more oversight of the troubled state schools and directing $1 million to fund research at Texas State University. But on matters of concern to his aquifer-dependent Hays County constituents – local control and groundwater management – Rose struck out.

Dan Gattis: C

Gattis failed to land a leadership committee role – surprising considering his rising-star status in the 2007 session. His active promotion of the defeated voter ID bill was also viewed as political pandering.

Steve Ogden: D

The senior senator and budget leader lost political ground on key votes this session and, for whatever reason, waged a mighty defense of creationist State Board of Education member Don McLeroy, who was ultimately bounced from the chair's seat. 

– Amy Smith


Speaker Joe Straus: B

The surprise new class president, Straus still needs to work out where the line between hands-off

administration and AWOL leadership lies.

Gov. Rick Perry: D

The odd Tweet about his latest jog and behind-the-scenes threats about vetoes showed that even basic leadership skills evade him.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst: C

It may have been his hand on the gavel, but he left too much of the Senate's leadership to cantankerous Senate Finance Chair Steve Ogden.

Richard Whittaker

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