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Leading Off

by Published on
Chris Hooks
Jen Reel
Chris Hooks

For all the good people in it, and all the good work they manage to do, Texas politics is still one of the greatest collections of political oddities in the nation. New Jersey might be more corrupt; California and New York may be more gridlocked; Illinois and Louisiana may have more future felons. But in terms of sheer, unvarnished weirdness, no one beats Texas. From singing governor “Pappy” O’Daniel and his Hillbilly Boys, to former state Rep. Mike Martin, who got his cousin to shoot him and blamed a Satanic cult, no part of the Union has as strange a political culture as we.

Politics is a serious business, and I intend to cover it seriously. There are a lot of great reporters who do that in Texas, probably better than I can. One of the things I intend to do with this space, though, is shed some light on the stuff that doesn’t make it into traditional newsprint. You can get a good sense of what’s happening in Texas politics by reading AP reports, but you can’t get a good sense of Texas political culture without exploring the many, many features that make the state so, well, weird—the strong strains of paranoia, insularity and populism as well as the (sometimes unchecked) pride, unbridled optimism and peculiar sense of place that produces the government we deserve, if not the government we want.

As we pass through the end of primary season and into the general election, I’ll be writing a mix of reported pieces and political analysis for this space. I’ll be on the campaign trail with candidates, I’ll be at the Capitol, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for anything else I find interesting.

In the past couple months, for the Observer, I’ve been physically thrown out of a tea party rally in Tarrant County and befriended Golden Dawn members at the Alamo. I’m looking forward to what comes next. Email tips and invective to [email protected]; and yell at me on twitter at @cd_hooks.

Christopher Hooks joined the Observer in 2014. Previously, he was a freelance journalist in Austin, where he grew up. His work has appeared in Politico Magazine, Slate, and Texas Monthly, among others. He graduated from The New School in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in history.