Abby Rapoport

Abby Rapoport is a staff writer at The American Prospect. She was previously a political reporter for the Texas Observer. Her email is

Recent Articles

Primary Day Means Baby Steps for Texas Democrats

AP Images/Laura Skelding

Tuesday, as Texans head to the polls to select their parties’ nominees, Republicans will see a more exciting ballot than they’ve seen in years. When Rick Perry announced he wouldn’t run for a fourth term as governor of Texas, the ripple effect was immediate and dramatic: Republican officeholders who’d been stuck in place began looking for where to head. Attorney General Greg Abbott announced his expected bid for governor, prompting three other GOP candidates to announce their intention to run for the space Abbott leaves open. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, who thought he’d be a U.S. Senator until Ted Cruz foiled his 2012 plans, found himself with three challengers—including the current state land commissioner and agriculture commissioner. In all, six different statewide positions in Texas are without incumbents this year, and 26 Republicans are vying for them. There will likely be runoffs in a number of tight races, including lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, and railroad commissioner.

Why Obama Should Take a Cue from Gerald Ford on Crack Pardons

AP Images/Felipe Dana

In late December, the Obama administration announced that the president would commute the sentences of eight prisoners serving decades-long sentences for crack-cocaine distribution (or intent to distribute). Last week, at a New York State Bar event, Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced that there may be more—many more. The administration, he said, will seek other drug cases to consider for clemency, working with the Bureau of Prisons to encourage inmates to request commutations and asking that state bar associations help with preparing their petitions.

High Enrollment, Low Standards

The bad, the ugly, and Texas pre-K

For a state with an infamously threadbare social safety net, Texas is surprisingly good at getting kids into prekindergarten. With more than 227,000 children enrolled, Texas has the largest publicly funded pre-K system in the country. Families qualify if they’re economically disadvantaged or if a parent is in the military; children who have been in foster care, do not speak English, or are homeless are eligible as well. Any district with 15 eligible students must have a program. With 51 percent of four-year-olds covered, Texas appears to be doing well when it comes to providing pre-K. That is, until you consider what these programs look like.

Want to Rock the Vote? Fill the Election Assistance Commission.

AP Images/The Roanoke Times/Joel Hawksley

Just days after the 2013 elections, former Congresswoman Mary Bono and I were on MSNBC discussing voter-ID laws. A moderate Republican, Bono tried hard to shift the focus to a universally hated aspect of American elections—the lines. “There should be no reason there should be long lines, ever,” she said. “Why [can’t they] orchestrate and engineer a solution that you get to the polls, and there’s 15 minutes, guaranteed in and out, and you vote?”

The Year in Preview: Post-Preclearance Voter Protection

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Lots of things happened in 2013. President Obama was sworn in for a second term. We got a new pope and a new royal baby. Two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon and scared a nation. The Supreme Court stripped power from the Defense of Marriage Act and the Voting Rights Act. But these are all stories we've heard before, and if you haven't, you certainly will in the millions of "Year in Review" pieces set to be posted between now and New Year's. Over the next two weeks, our writers will instead preview the year ahead on their beats, letting you know far in advance what the next big story about the Supreme Court—or the environmental movement, immigration reform, reproductive rights, you get the picture—will be.