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KUT-FM: Ben Philpott, KUT News

Ben Philpott covers politics and policy for KUT 90.5 FM. He has been covering state politics and dozens of other topics for the station since 2002. He's been recognized for outstanding radio journalism by the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters and twice by the Houston Press Club as Radio Journalist of the Year. Before moving to Texas, he worked in public radio in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and at several television stations in Alabama and Tennessee. Born in New York City and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., Philpott graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in broadcast journalism.

1876. It was a time of rebirth in Texas. Or maybe more precisely – time to get rid of those Reconstruction-era carpetbaggers.

"When the North sent folks down to Texas to govern as governors, Texans felt like these king-like people came down from the North and ran roughshod," says Sherri Greenberg, a clinical professor with the LBJ School of Public Affairs. "So when Texans wrote the Texas Constitution, this very populist document with as much power as possible vested in the people and at the lowest, most local level of government."

In a dynasty that dates back over 60 years in American politics, there is just one member of the Bush family left in any state or federal elected office.

Texas land commissioner George P. Bush is the one carrying the torch and facing a stiff primary on March 6, barely two years after his father Jeb's presidential bid failed as Donald Trump took over the Republican Party. To survive, the younger Bush has decided to adapt to — rather than resist — the new direction of the GOP.

When I moved to Austin in 2002, one of the first things I did to acclimate myself to Texas was visit the Bullock Texas State History Museum

I remember standing on the second floor, staring at the statue of the man whose name was chiseled onto the side of the building. Then I started to read his history on the plaque at the base of the statue to see just how long he'd been governor or U.S. senator.

That's when I discovered Bob Bullock had only been lieutenant governor.

When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was the state's attorney general, he had a memorable description for his old job.

"My job description has been simplified over the past four years," he said during a speech in 2013. "Because what I do is I go into the office, I sue the federal government and then I go home."

Abbott was purposely oversimplifying his daily work schedule, but defending the state's laws is a key element of the job.

The Texas Legislature writes the state budget. The governor signs it into law. But with a single action, the Texas comptroller can kill the entire appropriations process.

But before we get to that, let's start with the real burning issue: How do you pronounce comptroller? Do you pronounce it controller or comptroller?

The name, job description and spelling originally come from England. The full title there is Comptroller General of the Receipt and Issue of Her Majesty's Exchequer and Auditor General of Public Accounts.

When Texans – mostly farmers and ranchers – sat down to write the state Constitution in the 1800s, they didn’t see the need for an elected agriculture commissioner.

That oversight was quickly remedied.

George P. Bush is expected to win Tuesday's GOP primary for land commissioner. Ben Phillpott of KUT brings the story of the young Bush's low-key campaign and outreach to Hispanic voters.

In 2014, Texas voters might just see something they haven't experienced in two decades — a competitive race for governor.

Current Republican Gov. Rick Perry isn't running for re-election, so it's an open race, with new faces and new optimism for Texas Democrats.

Earlier this year, the Democrats were once again facing the prospect of scrambling to find someone to run as their candidate. Then, on June 25, state Sen. Wendy Davis came to the Capitol in Austin wearing running shoes and ready to block a restrictive abortion bill.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry has been aboard a bus touring Iowa hoping to score an upset in next Tuesday's caucuses. Perry spent Thursday trying to reverse the surge that challenger Rick Santorum has seen in a recent poll.

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