Around the Capitol / On the Move
Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) has officially joined the race for Texas Speaker. He joins Reps. John Zerwas, Phil King, and Tan Parker as official candidates.
Ross Leake has moved to Rep. Dustin Burrows‘ office as his new Chief of Staff from Rep. Ron Simmons‘ office where he was the Legislative Director.
Steven Polunsky has been named Director of the Transportation Policy Research Center at the University of Alabama. Steve previously was the Committee Director for the Senate Business and Commerce Committee under former Sen. John Carona and most recently was the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
Shane Saum has a new position as the Government Relations Liaison at the Texas Veterans Commission. He previously was a Program Manager at the Texas Enterprise Fund.
David Zapata has left Governor Greg Abbott’s appointment office to become the Assistant Secretary of State for Mexican and Border Affairs (h/t The Quorum Report).
Governor Greg Abbott appointed former Rep. Larry Phillips to a state district court seat in Grayson County. The special election to fill his seat will occur on November 6th.
Jason Stanford, a longtime political and communications strategist, has left Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s office where he was the Mayor’s communications director.
Ashley Brooks has left her position as Deputy Committee Director of the Senate State Affairs Committee and is now Legislative Director for Sen. Joan Huffman.
Tracey Borders has left the fundraising firm of Lilly & Company to take a position with the Associated General Contractors of Texas.
David Feigen, former Legislative Director for Rep. Helen Giddings, has taken a position with Texans Care for Children, advocating for early childhood reform, from newborns to pre-K.
Madison Stewart, Legislative Director to Rep. Gary VanDeaver, has announced she is leaving that position to pursue other opportunities and will be moving to Mason, TX.
Danielle Trevino has moved from Director of Communications at Public Blueprint to the Austin Chamber of Commerce as a Public Relation Manager. She had previously worked for the General Land Office and for Gov. Greg Abbott.
Scott Daigle, COS to Rep. Donna Howard, is leaving as of June 1 to take a position as the public policy director of The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities.
Lobby / Association News
Raise Your Hand Texas has hired Michelle Smith, a lobbyist with HillCo Partners, to serve as its Director of Government Relations. Dr. Libby Cohen, an organizer who most recently worked in the Baltimore area, will serve as Director of Advocacy and Outreach.
Former Texas Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Ryan Brannan has opened up his own legal and lobby practice, the Brannan Firm.
Randy Chapman, Executive Director of the Texas Legal Services Corporation, has announced his retirement, set for June 2018.
Madeline McClure, CEO of TexProtects, a child advocacy organization, has announced her retirement. She will transition to TexProtects’ Board of Directors. Pamela McPeters, former COS to Rep. Dawnna Dukes, is joining the organization as the Vice President of Public Affairs.
Brandy Marquez, former member of the Public Utility Commission, has announced the formation of her own government relations and regulatory consulting firm.
Chris Wallace, who served as President and COO of the Texas Association of Business, has left to take a position with the North Texas Commission, a public-private partnership of businesses, cities, counties, chambers of commerce, economic development entities and higher education that support policies that advance the region.
McGinnis Lochridge welcomes Ashton G. Cumberbatch, Jr. as a special counsel in the firm. Cumberbatch recently served as vice president of advocacy for the Seton Healthcare Family and executive director of Seton Foundations (h/t McGinnis Lochridge).
Tucker Royall, former TECQ general counsel, has been hired by Sen. Brian Birdwell as the Committee Director/General Counsel for the Senate Committee on Natural Resources (h/t The Quorum Report).
Jim Sheer, who has most recently been at the Texas Retailers Association, is joining McGuireWoods Consulting in its State Government Relations practice (h/t Texas Tribune’s The Blast).
State Agency News
Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Charles Smith resigned his position early this month. His last day will be May 31. Former Sen. Tommy Williams, will take over as Interim Commissioner.
Ron Pigott, HHSC Deputy Commissioner for Procurement and Contracting Services, resigned his position in late April.
Patrick Fortner has been named as the Executive Director of the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners. He previously held positions with the HHSC Office of Inspector General and the Texas Association of Realtors.
Congratulations to Dwight Clark, former Legislative Director to Sen. Jose Menendez, on the birth of his son Townes, earlier this month.
Congratulations to Mark Lehman, who was inducted into the National Association of Realtors RPAC Hall of Fame, in a recent ceremony in Washington, DC.
Congratulations to Rep. Carol Alvarado’s COS Alex Hammond and his wife, Bethany, on the expected arrival of a second son in September.
Congratulations to Janiece Crenwelge, lobbyist with Erben and Yarbrough, on her recent marriage to Tim Williams.
Congratulations to Jim Marston, VP at the Environmental Defense Fund, on being honored with the Shoal Creek Conservancy’s “Bob Armstrong Lifetime Achievement Award”, for his conservation efforts.
Congratulations to Cory Pomeroy, VP and General Counsel at the Texas Oil and Gas Association, and Lisa and Quinn Pomeroy on the recent birth of Luke Jacob Pomeroy.
Congratulations to George Christian for being honored with the UT Chad Oliver Teaching Award, given to one outstanding professor each year for his or her excellence in teaching and dedication to Plan II.
Congratulations to former Rep. Mike Villarreal on earning his PhD this past weekend from the University of Texas.
22nd — Rep. Tan Parker
23rd — Rep. JM Lozano, Jennifer Deegan
24th — Bradley Westmoreland
26th — Randy Chapman
28th — Becky Walker. Emily Ramshaw Hartstein, Court Koenning
29th — Erika Akpan, Hope Osborn. Will McAdams, Sen. Charles Schwertner
30th — Rep. Hubert Vo
1st — Luke Bellsynder
2nd — Robert Looney
3rd — Shannon Phillips Meroney
5th — Daniel Gonzalez, Fmr. Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer
6th — Rep. Will Metcalf
7th — Kwame Walker
8th — Chris Britton, Rep. Matt Shaheen, Rep. Tom Oliverson
10th — Rep. Jeff Leach
11th — Rep. Tony Dale
13th — George Christian
14th — Shayne Woodard, Jeff Kloster
16th — Sen. Kel Seliger
17th — Merita Zoga
18th — Rep. Greg Bonnen
19th — Bill Noble, Dale Wainwright, Fmr. Rep. Veronica Gonzales, Barry Williamson
20th — VA Stephens, Deon Daugherty Allen
21st — Rob Parham, Rep. Dan Huberty, Rep. Linda Koop
In Our Thoughts
Condolences to the family and friends of Diane Allbaugh, who passed away earlier this month. She founded the Texas Regional Office of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Austin. She was the wife Joe Allbaugh, COS to former President George Bush when he was Governor.
Condolences to the family and friends of Bobby Gierisch, former legislative director to Speaker Pete Laney and a long time beloved staffer around the Capitol. Bobby also worked for Railroad Commissioner Jim Nugent as well as for Public Utility Commissioner Jo Campbell.
Condolences to the family and friends of Mike Kelly, longtime political strategist and lobbyist, who passed away earlier this month. Kelly worked for the campaign of Ohio US Senator John Glenn, and in Texas worked as COS to former state Sen. Hugh Palmer and for the City of Houston.
Rich Oppel has been promoted from Senior Executive Editor to Editor in Chief of Texas Monthly.
As reported several months ago, former COS to Sen. Kel Seliger, Ginger Averitt, and her sister recently opened up Elevé Cosmetics, a cosmetics/champagne bar. Culture Map recently had a write up on the new venture.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) is holding a Philanthropy & Advocacy workshop in Austin on June 7 and First Lady Cecilia Abbott is the keynote speaker. Registration information and additional details can be found at
Pink Granite is a website and blog created “to help other women building careers in government affairs through interviews with like-minded women, resource sharing, Texas tips and just the right amount of frivolous banter.” This month Pink Granite has interviews with Lara Keel and Carrie Simmons.
Dates of Interest:
Runoff election: May 22, 2018
General election: November 6, 2018
First Day to file bills for the 86th Legislature: November 12, 2018
First Day of the 86th Legislative Session: January 8, 2019.
Below are links to several podcasts on Texas politics and what’s happening at the Capitol: