News Roundup: Texas General Land Office Holds March Madness-Like ‘Top Texan Tournament’

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By Becky FogelMarch 8, 2019 1:59 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

For college basketball fans, March is about, well, March Madness. And of course that also means many of them are creating a bracket for the NCAA tournament. Now, the Texas General Land Office is trying to wrangle some of that excitement with its 4th Annual Top Texan Tournament.

James Harkins is director of public services for the land office’s Archives and Records Program.

“We wanted to basically put 64 of the top Texans in Texas history in a tournament and, ya know, let people decide who is the top Texan in Texas history,” Harkins says.

There are 32 men and 32 women from state history to pick from.

People can craft their brackets until March 17. Then, from March 18 to April 4, folks will vote for their favorite figure in six rounds of matchups. Harkins says since the contest first started, the winner has been one of two people.

“The first couple years, it was Sam Houston, then last year Steven F. Austin, and this year, maybe the winds of change are upon us and we’ll have someone new,” Harkins says.

Harkins says he hopes people use this as a chance to learn about figures in Texas history.

“There’s people in here that we’ve included like Richard Overton, who recently passed away who was the oldest World War II veteran in Texas history; people like James Earl Rudder, Audie Murphy – other notable World War II people,” Harkins says.

More information about the tournament is at

Former Northeast Texas Congressman Ralph Hall has died at the age of 95. KERA’s Bill Zeeble has more on Hall, the oldest representative to ever serve in the U.S. House:

Ralph Hall first won a state judgeship 1950. Thirty years later, the Rockwall resident won the 4th Congressional House seat in Northeast Texas – as a Democrat. In 2004, he switched parties, backed by then-President George W. Bush. In 2014 Hall lost to Republican John Ratcliffe and was graceful about it.

“I just got whipped and got beat, and my folks are sad. But they know that I’m not sad. I’m pleased to have had the opportunity,” [Hall said at the time.]

Hall’s successor Ratcliffe said in a statement that Texas lost a great leader, statesman and friend. Sen. John Cornyn called Ralph Hall a legend in Congress and a true friend.

Ahead of congressional and legislative redistricting in 2021, the state’s demographer told lawmakers that Texas has grown faster than any other state in the country in the past decade.

Lloyd Potter told the House Redistricting Committee at a Thursday hearing that the suburbs are the fastest-growing areas of the state.

“This creates, again, one of our challenges for redistricting because these are the areas that are really growing fast, and if you’ve got a threshold for the population in a district, which I know you do, you’ve got to all of a sudden redraw the lines,” Potter said.

Potter also told lawmakers the Latino population grew the most in Texas, and the state’s Asian population is growing the fastest.