Meet Pete

Pete McRae has been involved in Texas politics and government since the 1980s. Originally as a legislative liaison for small farmers, and editor of their monthly newspaper, then as an aide to Commissioner Jim Hightower, and later as a Texas Senate staff member.  Pete began his local government relations business in the year 2000, and maintains that through today.

Representing a wide variety of clients at the local government level, Pete and our staff monitor local government across the state. Rising LoneStars is the result of that work.

The Team


Simon Nichols– Executive Editor

Emily O’Toole– Researcher

A 2021 graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in government and human dimensions of organizations as well as a minor in educational psychology and a certificate in business Spanish. Emily has interned for the Texas Democratic Party and the Equal Justice Center. She serves as a Research and Public Policy Associate.

Rifaa Patel– Researcher

A student at the University of Texas at Austin studying Government and Sociology. She has interned at the Texas House of Representatives with a special interest in local government and plans to go to Law School after graduation.

Arshia Marik– Researcher

A senior at the University of Texas studying International Relations and Global Studies. She has interned with the Borgen Project and worked closely with Texas senators. She has a special interest in policy and serves as a Public Policy and Research Associate.

Dianna Starr– Researcher

A recent 2021 graduate from Southwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science Cum Laude.  She has interned for the U.S Ukraine Foundation in Washington D.C and worked closely with the Annette Strauss Institute as a Texas Civic Ambassador to establish the Southwestern University Interfaith Worship Center. She has a passion for politics with plans to apply to graduate school in the near future.

Tayler Kennedy– Researcher

 A 2021 graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts in History Honors and Government with a Business Spanish Certificate. Tayler worked for the Texas House of Representatives and Calendars Chair Dustin Burrows during the 87th Legislative Session as an intern and policy analyst. She has a passion for learning about politics and is planning to attend law school.

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