Justin Miller

Justin Miller is the politics reporter for the Observer. He previously covered politics and policy for The American Prospect in Washington, D.C., and has also written for The Intercept, The New Republic and In These Times. Follow him on Twitter or email him at [email protected].

Texas Politics

National Dems Back MJ Hegar, Underscoring a Deeper Debate: How to Win in Texas

More than three months before the primary, Washington Democrats caught Texas party activists off-guard by endorsing a white candidate in a crowded field that includes several black and Hispanic contenders.

On Monday, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee endorsed former U.S. House candidate MJ Hegar in her bid to run against Republican incumbent Senator John Cornyn. The decision to back Hegar—who is running in a crowded, diverse field—strikes at the heart … Read More

In this Sept. 2, 2019 photo, Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks as Tony Buzbee, left, listens during a mayoral candidate forum for the 2019 election in Houston. As Turner seeks a second term, he’s hoping to use residents’ antipathy toward President Donald Trump to help him beat Turner, his biggest challenger. Crimes rates, allegations of City Hall corruption and the pace of the city’s recovery after Hurricane Harvey are among the issues that have come up in the race. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Texas Politics

Is Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner Headed for a Second Term?

The incumbent mayor largely avoided a battle royale with bombastic trial lawyer Tony Buzbee for control of the Bayou City.

Just over a month ago, Houston’s mayoral runoff looked like it was shaping up to be a political battle royale. It features two big political personalities—incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner and bombastic trial attorney Tony Buzbee—and is set in a booming … Read More

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, speaks during a press conference outside the Capitol with members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and members from the House Kentucky Delegation on the "Ratepayer Protection Act" on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Joe Barton Resurfaces with a Blueprint for How to Bail Out the Oil Industry and Worsen Climate Change

As the former Texas congressman prepares to get into the lobbying game, the climate-change denier reflects on how he worked with industry to unleash a runaway drilling boom in the Permian Basin.

The legislation was marked with the number of the beast.  Joe Barton’s staffers, perhaps sensing some irony, insisted that he reintroduce his 2015 bill that proposed lifting the federal ban on crude oil exports. Were the bill to pass it … Read More


‘Almost Akin to a Political Coup’: Houston Teachers Fight Back Against State Takeover of HISD

In a last-ditch effort to stop a state takeover of Texas’ largest school district, the Houston teachers union is suing the state for disenfranchising voters of color.

The fight over the future of Houston’s public school system escalated this week when the local teachers union joined a federal voting rights lawsuit against the state. The legal challenge is part of a last-ditch effort to stop the state … Read More

Texas Governor Greg Abbott writes notes before a gubernatorial debate against his Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas, on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, Pool)
Criminal Justice

On Rodney Reed Case, Greg Abbott Gets a Political Reprieve

A last-minute court intervention relieved political pressure on the Texas governor, who was ultimately able to keep his capital punishment bona fides intact.

As Rodney Reed’s November 20 execution date drew closer, all eyes turned to Governor Greg Abbott. When new evidence surfaced casting doubt on Reed’s conviction for the 1996 rape and murder that put him on death row, it quickly drew … Read More

Shannon Hutcheson
Texas Politics

Texas Congressional Candidate Shannon Hutcheson Defended Corporations Against the Vulnerable. EMILY’s List Endorsed Her Anyway.

Shannon Hutcheson has billed herself as a fierce reproductive rights advocate. But the corporate lawyer has papered over a troubling record, including her defense of a prison guard who sexually abused migrant women.

After working at the prestigious corporate law firm Baker Botts for more than a decade, Shannon Hutcheson decided to hang out a shingle of her own. Along with a colleague, in 2011 she started the women-owned boutique law firm Hutcheson … Read More

Rick Perry
Texas Politics

Rick Perry Exports His Pay-to-Play Politics to Ukraine

Perry has talked about his aspirations for Ukraine to become “the Texas of Europe.” On the corporate cronyism front, he may just have succeeded.

It appears that Rick Perry exported his pay-to-play politics from the Texas governor’s mansion to the notoriously corrupt Ukrainian oil and gas sector, where, as President Donald Trump’s energy secretary, he has played an outsized role in opening up the … Read More

President Donald Trump speaks as he tours the U.S. border with Mexico Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in McAllen, Texas, as Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, listens. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Texas Politics

‘Nobody’s Beating You,’ Trump Assures John Cornyn

Our state’s senior senator continues to hitch himself to Trump’s wagon, even as things get rocky.

John Cornyn might as well fire his entourage of political consultants, advisors, and pollsters. President Donald Trump—the pollster of the people, the one who triumphed in the only poll that matters, Election Day—is confident the Texas senior senator’s political future … Read More

Texas Politics

Will a High-Stakes Suburban Houston State House Race Give Texas Dems 2020 Vision?

A sole suburban legislative seat in Texas is up for grabs in November, providing a glimpse at Democrats’ 2020 effort to expand control of the suburbs and take control of the state House.

Before the 2018 midterms, Texas Democrats targeted a long list of state House Republicans in urban and suburban seats that were won—or nearly won—by Hillary Clinton in 2016. But House District 28 in suburban Houston was nowhere near the top … Read More