Forrest Wilder

Forrest Wilder, a native of Wimberley, Texas, is the editor of the Observer. Forrest has appeared on Democracy Now!, The Rachel Maddow Show and numerous NPR stations. His work has been mentioned by The New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, Time magazine and many other state and national publications. Other than filing voluminous open records requests, Forrest enjoys fishing, kayaking, gardening and beer-league softball. He holds a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin.

By Forrest Wilder:

Texas Legislature

An Anti-Incumbent Mood for Democrats

Five House Democrats were either beat or forced into runoffs Tuesday.

A surprising number of incumbent House Democrats lost tonight, or are headed to runoffs. Here’s a run-down of five races where we saw upsets tonight: —Dawnna Dukes, who has long represented a rapidly gentrifying East Austin district, managed just 10 … Read More

2017 in Review

The Observer’s Best Features of 2017

The Observer’s Best Features of 2017 Our favorite longreads of the year. This year our writers delved deep into important topics virtually untouched by other Texas publications. From spotlighting social and environmental injustices to capturing the characters — artists, politicians … Read More


Introducing the Texas Observer’s Rural Reporting Project

Texas has the biggest rural population in the nation, yet many journalists treat much of the state as flyover country.

Trump’s election taught the nation many painful lessons. Among them: the traditional divide between town and country has become a chasm. People in blue, urban enclaves discovered, or rediscovered, the depth of anger and resentment felt in forgotten, mostly rural, … Read More


The Texas Legislature’s Chainsaw Massacre

In the name of “liberty,” Senate Republicans are hacking down local rules protecting trees — except when they’re making exceptions for themselves.

At least 90 cities and counties in Texas have ordinances protecting trees. San Antonio has an ordinance. Weatherford has an ordinance. Austin has an ordinance. So do the verdantly named North Texas burgs of Little Elm, Mesquite and Oak Point. … Read More

Texas Legislature

Never Say Sine Die: Legislature Returns to Ideological Special Session Agenda

As if the regular session wasn’t terrible enough, Governor Greg Abbott has called lawmakers back for another 30 days of hell.

If your town suddenly seems emptied of crooks, scoundrels and liars, it’s probably because state lawmakers are trickling back into Austin for a very special legislative session that begins Tuesday. One sign that they’re back in town: political fundraisers involving … Read More


Greg Abbott’s Latino Problem

The governor is looking strong in his re-election bid but his support for Senate Bill 4 may be doing serious damage to the Texas GOP.

Greg Abbott announced his re-election campaign in San Antonio on Friday. Despite my eternal mystification as to why Abbott wants to be governor (he seems to be largely animated by fears of his base and Dan Patrick), there’s little doubt … Read More

Criminal Justice

Why We Hired a Civil Rights Reporter

Introducing Michael Barajas, the Observer’s new civil rights reporter

Over the last five years, federal courts have repeatedly ruled that the Texas Legislature intentionally discriminated against racial minorities. That’s a high bar. Courts are often reticent to impute motives to lawmakers, but the racial animus is evidently impossible to … Read More

House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio)

Joe Straus and the House Moderates Could’ve Stopped the ‘Show Me Your Papers’ Bill

Who's to blame for Senate Bill 4? For my money, there is no better place to start than Speaker Joe Straus and the so-called moderates in the Texas House.

Many believed it wouldn’t happen, but on Thursday, the Texas House passed legislation that in spirit and letter is awfully similar to SB 1070, the “show me your papers” law that properly branded Arizona an anti-Latino pariah. As Chris Hooks … Read More