From 2009 to 2011, Noah M. Horwitz individually awarded the title of “Person of the Year” to an individual with a great impact upon both Houston & Texas politics in the preceding calendar year. In 2012, the task fell to Texpatriate, which at that time simply consisted of Horwitz & Andrew Romo and received roughly 1-2% of the monthly views it does today.
That year, we selected Lane Lewis, in his official capacity as Chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party, as the Person of the Year. In previous years, Horwitz selected Annise Parker (’09), the “Houston Public Employee” (’10) and Andrew Burks (’11). Please note that, like Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, the indication is not simply meant to represent the individual we admire the most. Rather, irrespective of our personal opinions, it represents the person who had the biggest impact on Texas & Houston politics.
Accordingly, the Editorial Board has selected a number of individuals who we feel have contributed more than anyone else to Houston & Texas politics this year. While we have typically eschewed generic designations (remember when “You” was the TIME Person of the Year?), one has been included nonetheless. We invited our readers to look over the options below and vote in the poll at the bottom of the page. The Person of the Year will be decided by the Editorial Board around New Year’s.
In October, Texas Monthly ran a cover depicting Attorney General Greg Abbott holding a shotgun. It proudly explained him as “THE GOV,” in all capital letters. In the words of the Monthly, “barring an unlikely occurrence,” this is the man who will succeed Rick Perry as the 48th Governor of Texas.
Though as much as Abbott has tried to boost his visibility, his lack of swagger and bravado easily distinguish him from a larger-than-life, predecessor apparent.
For lack of a better colloquialism, the tradition for Freshman members in most deliberative assemblies throughout this nation is to sit down, shut up and observe. Senator Cruz has bucked this tradition perhaps more than any other officeholder in recent memory. The junior Senator from Texas has become something of a folk hero to the Tea Party movement, and is seen by many in the far-right as walking the walk of untempered Conservatism in the face of a perceived sellout from the establishment base of the Republican Party.
In a grand spectacle of unprecedented proportions, many even attributed Senator Cruz as the main reason for a government shutdown earlier this year, as his messages began gaining followers in the House of Representatives by the dozens. His silence could be the end of Senator Cornyn’s political career and he is already talked about as a leading presidential contender for 2016.
This summer, State Senator Wendy Davis made headlines for launching a 13 hour filibuster against an anti-abortion bill that would have closed the vast majority of the State’s abortion clinics. Gaining nationwide publicity, Davis then embarked upon an uphill battle for Governor of Texas, seeking to be the first Democrat elected to the post in 24 years.
Davis has arguably become the best known Texas Democrat since Ann Richards, and a nationwide celebrity for protecting women’s abortion rights. She has finished victorious in previous tossup elections, and many are confident she will beat the odds once more.
For a year in municipal politics so amicable to Mayor Parker, one of her strongest opponents received a surprising vote of confidence downballot in the same election. Michael Kubosh advanced with a strong plurality showing into a runoff election this month to be elected to an at-large position on the Houston City Council. He now looks to be a shoe-in to sit on the horseshoe next year.
Kubosh has bitterly opposed the Mayor on issues such as homeless feeding and red-light cameras, and will be sure to take a nominally abrasive style to City Hall, much to the chagrin of the establishment. Love him, hate him, no one may doubt the significance that Kubosh will bring to that chamber.
One year ago, naysayers abound, many in this City argued that Mayor Parker’s days in office were numbered. Coming off of a tepid re-election the previous year, she had drawn a high-profile challenger in the next year’s election who could build the infamous pincer coalition of African-Americans and Republicans, thus driving Mayor Parker out of office.
Of course, Mayor Parker did not lose her re-election battle; in fact, she won by the biggest margin of victory in any of her runs for Mayor. And she did this by running true to her record and transforming herself into an unashamed liberal. Indeed, before her third term even begins, she has doubled-down on ordinances banning things like wage theft and predatory payday lending, as well as extending benefits to LGBT City Workers. The Mayor has proved she is an inimitable campaigner, and is well on her way to showing she is similarly situated as an officeholder too.
This July, Governor Perry announced, after nearly thirteen years in office, that he would not seek an unprecedented fourth full term in office. Immediately, rumors began whirling about a second run for the Presidency.
But Rick Perry still has another year in office, and if this past one is any indication, he will make it count. Just in the past year, Governor Perry has exhibited strong leadership over the State Legislature, bringing lawmakers back to the Capitol for three special sessions to accomplish his priorities, while spurning calls from the far-right to bring a plethora of conservative pet causes to the floor in the summer. He set the agenda, and was not shy about using his veto pen when the legislature varied from it.
Governor Perry has continued packing the Supreme Court, among other executive branch offices, with his allies, appointing yet another Chief Justice this year, as well as a further Associate Justice.
This summer, when Wendy Davis filibustered a harsh anti-abortion bill, commentators observed that the sleeping giant –the long prophesied silent majority– had been awakened. Women (& men) by the thousands flocked to Austin, wearing signature orange shirts, to stand in solidarity with Wendy Davis and opposition to the bill.
The new brand of populist anger that was ushered in helped to attract an all-star cast of Texas Democrats –most notably, Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte– to run for Statewide office, the strongest roster in over a decade. The rallying cry, “Stand with Texas Women” or simply “SWTW,” has become synonymous with pushback against nationwide Republican legislative efforts restricting abortion rights.