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To help him reach constituents, Clements hired a young direct-mail wizard named Karl Rove, who became a central figure in Texas’s transformation from blue to red.

Rove attributes the change to the growth of the suburbs and the gradual movement of the rural areas into the Republican column: “They went from being economic populists, who thought the system was rigged against them by Wall Street, to being social and conservative populists, who thought that government was the problem.”Moderate and conservative Democratic politicians followed the voters to the Republican Party.

I explained that I was having a plot problem: my hero had introduced an ethics-reform bill, which triggered a war with the biggest lobbyist in the state. “That would mess him up, right and left.”Laney’s suggestion was inspired by an actual law that the Texas House of Representatives had passed in 1991. Feral pigs are a remnant of the Spanish colonization, and now we’ve got as many as three million of them, tearing up fences and pastureland and mowing down crops, even eating the seed corn out of the ground before it sprouts. Bill Miller, a lobbyist in Austin and a longtime student of Texas politics, dates the change to May, 1976, when Ronald Reagan beat Gerald Ford in the Texas Republican primary.

It allowed sewage sludge from New York City to be shipped, by train, to a little desert town in District 74, Sierra Blanca, which is eighty miles southeast of El Paso. “Reagan won every Texas delegate and the popular vote two to one,” Miller told me.

This passage is possibly unique in the political chronicles of the state.

Fairly considered, the Texas legislature is more functional than the United States Congress, and more genteel than the House of Commons.

The lieutenant governor, Bob Bullock, and Speaker Laney were both Democrats, and, when Bush ran for President, they became exhibits in his argument that he would be a bipartisan leader.(That’s larger than Indiana.) While I was doing research for the play, I met in Austin with Pete Laney, a Democrat and a cotton farmer from Hale County, who, at the time, was the speaker of the House. ”“Well, I don’t hunt ’em myself, but I got a friend who does.” He punched an intercom button on his phone. Economic populism, especially in the rural areas, offered a counterweight to the capitalists in the cities.Laney was known as a scrupulously fair and honest leader who inspired a bipartisan spirit among the members. We sat down in the Speaker’s office, at the capitol. “Well, you could put a toxic-waste dump in Sonny’s district,” he observed. But in the nineteen-seventies the state began shifting rightward.Rick Perry, for one, served three terms in the Texas House as a Democrat, and even campaigned for Al Gore in his 1988 Presidential run, before changing parties, in 1989.

In 1994, Texas elected its last statewide Democrat.One can drive across it and be in two different states at the same time: FM Texas and AM Texas.