Interview with State Sen. John Whitmire

Sen. John Whitmire

Next up is State Sen. John Whitmire of SD15. Known as the “Dean” of the Senate, Whitmire was elected to the House in 1972 – the same year as Rep. Senfronia Thompson – and moved to the upper chamber in 1982. Like his colleague Sen. Ellis, Sen. Whitmire is known for his work on the criminal justice system. As his Texas Tribune bio notes, he authored the complete rewriting of the Texas Penal Code between 1993 and 1999. He’s called for the dismantlement of the scandal-plagued Texas Youth Commission, which was back in the news last week. He was also a prominent figure in the re-redistricting battle of 2003. You can hear all this and more in the interview:

Download the MP3 file

I don’t usually mention specifics of what we discussed in the interviews in these writeups, but one thing Sen. Whitmire said as we were talking about the TYC struck me. Basically, he pointed out that wherever there’s an issue with a state agency in Texas, the ultimate responsibility for it is with the Governor. The Legislature has oversight and can hold hearings and whatnot, but it’s the Governor that puts the people in there to run them. Boiling it down to two words: Elections matter.

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle on the 2010 Elections page.

UPDATE: In a bit of good timing, the Trib prints an excerpt from former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby’s forthcoming book How Things Really Work: Lessons from a Life in Politics which discusses the Senate’s two-thirds rule, which was one of the things I discussed with Sen. Whitmire.

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