Top Political Stories in Texas in 2016

State & Regional

 A momentous year, 2016 has been full of surprises and will likely be a defining moment for future history books.

The presidential election and Donald Trump’s stunning victory dominated the country’s news cycles but a lot happened in the world of Texas politics.

Before the ball drops Saturday night and the calendar year flips over to 2017, here’s a look at some of the biggest stories in Texas politics in 2016.

Ted Cruz’s Presidential Run

Texas’ own, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz made a name for himself during his failed presidential run.  

Cruz went toe to toe with Donald Trump in a very public and often personal feud throughout the Republican primary.

Cruz finished second behind Trump in the delegate-count but failed to come within striking distance. Cruz bowed out of the Republican primary in early May, days after he named Carly Fiorina as his running mate.

Texas’ junior senator, Cruz refused to endorse Trump during his speech at the Republican National Convention and instead told the audience “vote your conscience.”

Cruz later endorsed Trump and the Texas GOP cautiously followed his lead.

Sid Miller Makes Headlines

The Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Sid Miller made headlines when a Tweet from his Twitter account referred to Hillary Clinton as the c-word.

Miller’s office first claimed the commissioner’s account had been hacked then said a staff member copy and pasted the Tweet from a different account, unaware of the explicit language it contained.

Miller apologized for the ‘accidental’ Tweet and later announced the staffer said to be responsible for the social media post had been fired.

Ken Paxton’s Legal Battle

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fought fraud charges in state and federal courts. The state’s top lawman was indicted on criminal securities fraud charges in 2015 and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed similar charges against Paxton in April.

A federal judge dismissed the case in October but the SEC quickly amended the charges against Paxton which mean that legal battle will likely continue into 2017.

The state’s case could take Paxton to criminal trial as early as the spring.

Lt. Governor Talks Bathroom Bill

Dan Patrick tackled a few controversial social issues, such as the so-called “bathroom bill.”

Lt. Gov. Patrick took on the Fort Worth Independent School District to push back against school guidelines that allow transgender students to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity and not the sex listed on birth certificates.

At the GOP state convention this summer Patrick said, “Just so you’re not confused, when you go to the restroom the ‘M’ does not stand for make up your mind, and the ‘W’ does not stand for whatever.”

Patrick plans to push a bathroom bill in Texas that would require people to use the bathroom that matches their gender, as listed on their birth certificates.

Governor Abbott Calls for Convention of States

Governor Greg Abbott called for a Convention of States to reign in the federal governor and give more power back to the states. Texas Republicans have criticized the federal government for overstepping its bounds.   

Ahead of the 2017 legislative session, two Republican lawmakers filed bills that would add Texas to a handful of states calling for a constitutional amendment to restrict the federal government’s power.

Texas Electors Break Tradition

For the first time in history, not all of the state’s 38 electors voted the same way the people of Texas did. President-elect Donald Trump lost two of the state’s electoral votes but the 36 electors that stuck with Trump were enough to push Trump above the threshold required to win the presidency.

Trump’s Transition

Trump picked two Texans to fill top spots in his administration. Former Governor Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy and the current Chairman and CEO for ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State.

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