Crossroads Ten Most Powerful - #3 Geanie Morrison

In a 1979 Advocate interview, after being named Texas Clubwoman of the Year, Geanie Morrison said she had no interest in politics.

That changed.

Now in her 10th year in the Texas House of Representatives, Morrison said she first got involved working for candidates after hearing Ronald Reagan's fireside chats. She also joined the Republican Women's organization and eventually campaigned for Phil Gramm, Reagan and George W. Bush.

She took the leap into politics after being asked by Steve Hozheauser, who was vacating his seat, to run for the Texas Legislature.

WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT MORRISON

Rep. Morrison's leadership on higher education issues continues to be instrumental to building a competitive workforce and opening the doors of opportunity to countless young Texans. As champion of the country's first Baby Moses legislation, she set a precedent for all other states to implement similar measures, which have helped save more than 60 newborns from abandonment in Texas alone. - Texas Gov. Rick Perry

She's a tenacious opponent. She works very hard and is relentless. - Jim Wyatt, former candidate for Texas House of Representatives

She lost a lot of her clout with the change in House speaker. I think she was instrumental in the hike in college tuition in the state. She wasn't looking out for the students. - Stephen Jabbour, Victoria County Democratic Party chairman

Credible. Prepared. Knowledgeable. Trustworthy. Someone who has strong convictions and is persistent about her beliefs, but is also supported by members who don't always agree with her. - Joe Straus, Speaker of the Texas House

She's smart. She works hard and is an excellent negotiator. - Phil King, state representative of District 61

She does her homework. She's a workhorse, not a show horse. She never plays to the camera. She's here for all the right reasons. - Scott Hochberg, state representative District 137, chair of sub-committee on education

She has the unique ability to know which friends to lean on. -Rick Hardcastle, state representative District 68

She is one of the most organized and dedicated people on this floor, an incredible leader who has been a mentor to me.- Linda Harper-Brown, state representative District 105.

TELLING DETAILS

What's on her desk? Family photographs and legislative bills.

What's in her car? Legislative bill folders, car seats, children's DVDs and books.

Spare time? Watching grandchildren's baseball, soccer, gymnastics; spending time on the hunting lease; fishing.

What does power mean? "To me, power means opportunities and working with people."

How do you wield power? "The strange thing is I have never really given power much thought. There have been opportunities afforded me that I have taken."

TIMELINE

1979 - Outstanding Junior Clubwoman of the Year

1983-84 - Victoria County chairwoman of Phil Gramm for Senate and Reagan/Bush campaigns

1986-87 - President, Junior League of Victoria

1991-93 - Great Expectations, Teen Moms project chairwoman

1996-97 - Executive director of the Governor's Commission for Women and Governor's Office of Volunteerism

1998 - present - State representative

2003-08 - Appointed chair of House Committee on Higher Education

2009 - present - Appointed to House Committee on Appropriations and Subcommittee Vice-Chair of Education and Stimulus

Co-chaired George W. Bush gubernatorial campaign in Victoria County

Co-chaired Phil Gramm's regional presidential campaign

Appointed executive director of Governor's Commission for Women

Led passage of Baby Moses Law, now enacted in all 50 states.

Appointed to chair House Committee for Higher Education for 78th, 79th and 80th Legislative sessions

Appointed to House Committee on Appropriations and Vice-chair of Appropriations Subcomittee on Education and Stimulus.

Spearheaded passage of bill approving expansion of University of Houston-Victoria to four-year university

Q/A

Who were your most influential mentors?

"My mother and grandmother, Hally Clements, government teacher Pat Godfrey and Victoria High School principal Ted Reed."

What are your favorite causes?

"Higher education, Make the Grade, Baby Moses Project, St. Francis Episcopal Church Youth Group."

What's one thing would you change about the Crossroads? Why?

"Continue to improve the educational opportunities in South Texas, like the University of Houston-Victoria downward expansion."

Last books read: "Marley and Me," "The Shack"

Best friends? "I have a great circle of friends and do not want to leave anyone out."

Immediate family? Mother Vesta Williams, mother-in-law Audre Morrison, brothers Wayne and Jeff Williams, sister Carol Williams, husband Jack Morrison, daughter Lauri Perry, son-in-law Chris Perry, son Matt Morrison, grandson Cole Perry, granddaughter Ella Perry

Any pets? Hershey, a miniature dachshund.

SPEND A DAY WITH GEANIE MORRISON

If you spend any time with Geanie Morrison in Austin, you might want to consider investing in wheels for your shoes.

She's a dynamo - constantly in motion - from the moment she hits her office. She attends two committee meetings before the legislative session even starts.

On this day, the Texas Republican Women are in the House gallery and are recognized from the floor. Morrison is proud. The organization was one of the catalysts behind her successful move into politics.

During an interview with the media, Morrison is calm and confident, friendly and open.

But she doesn't sit still long. She consults with aide Justin Unruh. She approves something handed to her by another assistant. She apologizes for the interruptions.

When it's time to go to session, she quick-walks to the floor. At one point, Unruh sprints to catch her, again consulting on some pending topic. She thanks him and continues on.

Colleagues stop her along the way, all with warm greetings and quick consultations.

Once on the floor, she takes a while to get to her desk again as she and colleagues hold mini-conferences along the way.

Once seated, she doesn't stop.

She opens her laptop, her hands moving quickly across the keyboard. Her cell phone rings. She answers the call and at the same time flips through the box of folders on her desk.

Once session starts, she is again on the move, conferring with colleagues, sharing information or ideas.

During lunchtime, she hops into a car and drives the short distance to the Republican Women's luncheon. After "lunch" - she doesn't actually eat there; she later grabs a bite in the members' lounge - it's back to the House floor, and it all starts over again.

Editor's note: This project is not a scientific measure of power. During a three-month period, Advocate readers voted for candidates via e-mail, online survey, snail mail and phone.