Who We Are

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Burnt Orange Report, or BOR for short, is Texas' largest group political blog, written from a progressive/liberal/Democratic standpoint. BOR began on  April 24, 2003 as a live-journal site written by University of Texas students Byron LaMasters and Jim Dallas. The site focused on happenings at the Capitol and around Austin.

Over the past 10 years, BOR has evolved to become one of the leading state blogs in the progressive Netroots, and has featured the writing of dozens of staff bloggers. BOR's writing team has matured from a group of independent and outspoken Longhorns into a group of legislative staffers, activists, organizers, attorneys, and thought leaders on politics in Texas. Our wider blog community includes institutional leaders, political consultants, elected officials, lobbyists,  and concerned Texans writing in our journals and in the comments.

Our site continues to be one of the most visited and widely respected state-level blogs in the nation. As of November 2011, Burnt Orange Report has had 6.2 million visits and 11 million page views.

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Read our staff bios below. 

Burnt Orange Report Staff

Katherine Haenschen, Editor in Chief.

Katherine Haenschen is an organizer, activist, and blogger in Austin, Texas, where she has managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns. Efforts include the 2011 Travis County bonds, Randi Shade for Austin City Council, the 2010 Travis County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign, Kurt Kuhn for Third Court of Appeals, Chris Riley for Austin City Council, and the 2008 Austin Vote for Change registration drive. 

Prior to professional campaigning, Katherine earned nearly all of her PhD in Media Studies from UT, where she served as Vice President of the Graduate Student Assembly, and organized her department for a 50% increase in salary. She has been an active volunteer since 2004, when her then-State Senator, Barack Obama, ran for Illinois Senate. As a grad student at UChicago she organized her friends to help register voters on subway platforms for Obama. 

Katherine is the president of the Austin Young Democrats, involved with pro-choice organizations, and is UCONN's biggest fan in Texas.


Joe Deshotel, Senior Staff Writer. 

Joe has worked in and around politics for over 10 years. He has worked for members and representatives of Congress, the Texas legislature, Jefferson Co. and the City of Austin. He believes government has been a defenseless whipping boy for 'conservatives' and big business. He believes we first we have to define the role of government and then we can decide whether tax payers are getting what they deserve. His goal is to see progressive candidates win in Texas and believes it comes down to messaging and infrastructure. Joe plays in a band and loves living in the Live Music Capital. Personal highlights include introducing Barack Obama in his home town of Beaumont, Texas. 


Michael Hurta, Senior Staff Writer.

Michael began reading BOR before graduating high school, back in 2006  when he discovered the site while Googling "angry at Rick Perry." But he  had first gotten politically involved when his former teacher, Jim  Henley, ran against Congressman John Culberson in 2006. As the "kid who  used the Internets," he did some blogger outreach for that campaign. And  by the time he stepped on the 40 Acres of UT, he was a Burnt Orange  Reporter. In college, he interned for Rick Noriega's Senate campaign,  Bill White's gubernatorial campaign, and Representative Diana Maldonado.  His senior year, he became president of the University Democrats and  led part of the losing battle of 2010. He previously managed David Wahlberg's  campaign for the 167th District Court and is currently a 2L at UT Law. 


Ben Sherman, Senior Staff Writer. 

Ben Sherman is a proud progressive with a passion for political strategy. In 2010, Ben worked on the Bill White campaign as Communications Coordinator, handling media requests, writing news briefs and organizing the communications team. He spent the summer of 2012 writing for ThinkProgress about everything from the Affordable Care Act to Mitt Romney getting booed. At Burnt Orange Report, he covers Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott, climate change, racism, and political corruption. Ben studies political science and history at the University of Texas and will graduate in December 2013.


Shelby Alexander, Staff Writer.

Shelby came to Austin in 2009 from El Paso to attend St. Edward's University, where she graduated with a degree in Political Science. She worked her way through college on a variety of campaigns ranging from the local to federal level, and in advocacy roles for nonprofits like Planned Parenthood. Shelby most recently worked the 83rd legislative session for Representative Mary González, and now can be found working at Austin City Hall for Council Member Mike Martinez. Shelby is especially passionate in her activism working for reproductive justice, racial and gender equality, and promoting intersectionality in our movements. Shelby enjoys bright lipsticks, drag, and her growing cactus and succulent collection (which reminds her of her desert home).


Omar Araiza, Staff Writer.

Omar Araiza was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. His parents are originally from Mexico and came to the United States as immigrants with hopes of being able to provide a better life for their family. Having faced harsh bullying and physical assaults for being gay as a young kid, Omar is not afraid to stand up for others facing discrimination and always roots for the underdog.

Omar was recently part of Texas State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa's staff, and is working towards obtaining graduate degrees in national security. He also enjoys shooting at inanimate objects with his recurve bow.


Emily Cadik, Staff Writer.

Emily Cadik grew up outside of Houston in Montgomery County, where rampant conservatism sent her fleeing in the opposite direction. She then went to the University of Texas, followed by the Harvard Kennedy School, where she studied government and public policy with a focus on political rhetoric and voter turnout. Emily now works on affordable housing policy in Washington, DC, but pines for breakfast tacos, Shiner Bock and the unfailingly outrageous brand of politics found only in Texas.


Genevieve Cato, Staff Writer.

Genevieve Cato is a feminist activist and a native Texan. She tried to escape the pull of Texas nationalism by leaving the state for graduate school, but after the attack on women's healthcare during the 82nd legislative session she came back as quickly as she could. While not writing for the Burnt Orange Report, she can be found working to elect pro-choice women to the state legislature, tweeting as @blasfemmetx, and drinking copious amounts of pretentious local craft beers.


Edward Garris, Legal Correspondent and Staff Writer.

Edward Garris is an attorney in Austin, Texas, whose practice focuses on corporate and tax law.  A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, he cut his teeth in litigation and politics on the North Side of Chicago before returning to the warmer climate of Central Texas.  He came to Burnt Orange Report to scratch the itch of politics and constitutional law.  Currently, he examines both Texas and federal legislation and court decisions and writes how they affect everything from fundamental rights to income taxes, in an effort to deconstruct rhetoric and show the man behind the curtain.  He is the veteran of several political campaigns in Chicago and Texas, loves his bicycle, and is fueled by caffeine.


Nick Hudson, Staff Writer.

Nick Hudson is a political aficionado, writer, and social media guy. Nick grew up in small towns across Texas and moved to Austin in 2005 to study government and philosophy at the University of Texas. Nick was the statewide director of Texas Students for Barack Obama during the 2008 primary, and the Social Media and Outreach Coordinator for the Mike Martinez Campaign in 2012. Nick worked to reform criminal justice sentencing as a volunteer legislative liaison for the ACLU of Texas during the 2007 and 2009 legislative sessions. He is the former Research Specialist for the southern-based nonprofit, Grassroots Leadership. At Grassroots Leadership, Nick authored research papers and wrote for the Texas Prison Bidness blog. Nick currently manages Sarah Eckhardt's campaign for Travis County Judge. 


Chaille Jolink, Staff Writer.

Chaille Jolink began her interest in Texas politics as a Senate Messenger in 2003 and has since worked for Rep. Naishtat, Senator Lucio, and Rep. Joe Moody serving as his Legislative Director in the 2009 session. She started off as a reporter writing for the legislative tracking website Gallerywatch.com during the 2007 session, and has been a contributor to local publications such as TODO Austin and NSIDE Austin. She started writing for BOR in 2011, and was Field Director for the Chris Frandsen Campaign in 2012. She has her BA from UT in History, English, and Government and believes in public options for health care, transportation, and free love.


Phillip Martin, Staff Writer.

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that will promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics.

Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. In 2007, he took a brief hiatus from BOR to serve as Chief of Staff for State Rep. Garnet Coleman. Following the 2007 legislative session, Phillip left Austin to pursue a Master's in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. Homesick, Phillip continued writing for BOR, producing comprehensive posts about how the Texas Democrat delegate selection process worked and creating an analysis of the 2009 Speaker's race that helped turn the tables against then Speaker Tom Craddick.
Since returning to Austin in 2009, Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool. If you take him to Dirty's he'll still write anything you want.


Natalie San Luis, Staff Writer.

Natalie San Luis is a native Austinite, a feminist, and a freelance writer who holds a B.A. in Plan II Honors, English, and women's and gender studies from UT Austin. During her time at UT, Natalie worked with several organizations to foster a feminist community at the university. Previously, she has worked as a writing consultant at the Undergraduate Writing Center, a columnist for The Daily Texan, and a debate coach for a group of high school kids who know more about politics than the average college grad. Natalie believes that the media is a critical institution for connecting citizens to their government, especially for Texas as the state undergoes significant political transformations. In her free time, Natalie reads, visits local breweries, and listens to hip hop.


Katie Singh, Staff Writer.

Katie Singh grew up in Austin. Katie has known she's a Democrat ever since being the only student who disagreed with her fourth grade teacher's declaration that Al Gore was a "sore loser" in 2000. She got involved in Texas politics in middle school, volunteering on Kelly White's 2004 campaign and later interning on Valinda Bolton's 2008 campaign. She began reading Burnt Orange Report to stay up to date on Texas politics while attending Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. In 2012, she interned at Obama for America headquarters in Chicago. She also helped organize Northwestern student trips to canvass in Iowa and Wisconsin. The highlight of her time in Chicago was being at President Obama's victory speech on Election Night 2012. She graduated from Northwestern in 2013 with a degree in political science and global health. She's interested in health policy and plans to go to graduate school for public health to learn more about the relationship between social inequality and health disparities. Katie is excited to contribute her enthusiasm for progressive politics to BOR. Appropriately, her favorite color is blue.


Joseph Vogas, Staff Writer.

The day after the 2004 election, Joseph Vogas declared himself a Democratic activist and has dedicated himself to electing Democrats and further progressive values through the state of Texas ever since. Joseph was raised in Friendswood and attended the University of North Texas where he majored in political science. During his studies, Joseph was elected as Vice President and then President of the College Democrats of North Texas. Joseph went on to work on several political campaigns throughout the state including those of State Senator Wendy Davis and Congressman Nick Lampson. In 2013, he was proud to have worked in the office of State Rep. Craig Eiland.

Joseph's education in electoral politics came from Swing State Project (now Daily Kos Elections) and the many writers and commentators of that website. SSP's precise focus on electoral results, candidate recruitment, and campaigns lead Joseph to specialize in electoral politics. Joseph strongly believes in the power of activism through community organizing.



About Author

Burnt Orange Report

Burnt Orange Report, or BOR for short, is Texas' largest political blog, written from a progressive/liberal/Democratic standpoint.


  1. Its been fun
    watching BOR grow over the 3.5 – 4 years or so that I have been reading it.  It keeps getting better and better.  The only thing I miss from the past days is Hardigree's humor pieces. 

  2. Why was my comment taken down?
      I posted a comment on this item last night around 8 p.m.  Karl-Thomas Mussleman replied to me within the hour.  But somebody stripped both posts from the site around midnight.  The site says there are four comments to “Who We Are,” but only two remain up.
      Are we practicing censorship to prevent  different or dissenting views on BOR? 

    • Community Comment Ratings
      BOR allows every user to rate comments. If they fall below a certain threshold, they are hidden to all except trusted users. It's community self moderation and one that has been in place ever since BOR moved over to the Soapblox platform.

      It's not censorship, it's actually much more democratic.

  3. Might I?
    Andrew Dobbs is a sometimes student at the University of Texas-Austin and a proud member of the working class.  A former staffer for the Texas Democratic Party, he joined Jim Dallas and Byron LaMasters in 2003 to relate his experiences working for the Dean for America campaign.  He has since returned to his roots and now identifies himself as a libertarian socialist (anarchist, to the uninitiated) and provides infrequent and controversial commentary on the political scene.  He has never voted for a Republican for public office, nor does he ever forsee doing so.

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