Susan Combs

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Susan Combs
Susan Combs by Gage Skidmore.jpg
37th Comptroller of Texas
In office
January 1, 2007 – January 13, 2015
Governor Rick Perry
Preceded by Carole Keeton
Succeeded by Glenn Hegar
10th Agriculture Commissioner of Texas
In office
January 5, 1999 – January 1, 2007
Governor George W. Bush
Rick Perry
Preceded by Rick Perry
Succeeded by Todd Staples
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 37th district
In office
January 12, 1993 – January 26, 1996
Preceded by Libby Linebarger
Succeeded by Patty Keel
Personal details
Born (1945-02-26) February 26, 1945 (age 72)
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Joe Duran
Children 3 sons
Alma mater Vassar College (BA)
University of Texas, Austin (JD)
Website Official website

Susan Combs (born February 26, 1945)[1] is a Republican politician from the U.S. state of Texas, who served from 2007 to 2015 as the state's Comptroller of Public Accounts. Prior to her tenure as Comptroller, Combs had served two terms as Commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture from 1999–2007, taking the reins as the first woman elected to that office in 1998. Combs also served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives.[2] On July 10, 2017, Combs was nominated by U.S. President Donald Trump to be the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Policy, Management and Budget.[3]

Early life and family[edit]

Combs was born in San Antonio. She grew up in a ranching family in West Texas. She runs a cow-calf operation on her family's ranch in Brewster County; the ranch has been in her family since the turn of the 20th century. She lives in Austin with her husband, Joe W. Duran, a computer scientist. She is the mother of three sons.[4] Combs graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York,[4] majoring in French and religion. She worked in international advertising in New York City, in the financial markets on Wall Street, and for the U.S. government before returning to Texas to obtain credentials from the University of Texas Law School at Austin.[4] After graduation from law school, she served as an assistant district attorney in Dallas, Texas.[4]

Political career[edit]

Combs' first electoral outing was for the 47th legislative district, in Travis County. She won the Republican runoff election by seven votes over intraparty challenger Bill Welch. Combs polled 2,279 votes (50.07 percent) to Welch's 2,272 (49.92 percent). The two had led a five-candidate field in the primary.[5] In the general election, Combs handily defeated the Democrat Jimmy Day, 45,355 (65.4 percent) to 23,987 (34.6 percent).[6] Combs served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives from 1993–1996, resigning midway in her second term to join the staff of U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison as the lawmaker's state director. She was succeeded by fellow Republican Patty Keel of Austin.

She served as the Texas Agriculture Commissioner from 1999 to 2007, being the first woman to serve in the position.[4] She succeeded Rick Perry as commissioner, who was instead elected as lieutenant governor.

Combs was initially elected as Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts to succeed Carole Strayhorn, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for governor as an Independent in the same election. Combs served as comptroller from 2007 to 2015. In 2010, Combs was unopposed for a second term as comptroller in the Republican primary, and she faced no Democratic opponent in the November 2 general election. Unsuccessful nominees of the Green and Libertarian parties did seek the position. Combs did not seek reelection to a third term as Comptroller or any other statewide office in the 2014 elections.[7]

Texas Smart Schools Initiative[edit]

After leaving state politics in 2015, Combs launched the Texas Smart Schools Initiative, intended for parents and officials as a data-driven approach to show which public schools and districts are achieving the highest student performance for the lowest cost.[8][9] The material, arranged on a five-star scale, was made available without charge.[10] It is funded from her leftover campaign contributions.[8] "Public education is one of the largest items in the state budget; so Texans need to know where their dollars are getting the highest return in terms of student performance," Combs said.[11] Also with leftover campaign cash, Combs formed a 501(c)(4) nonprofit called the Anywhere Woman Project, an online platform aiming to help women ask questions and exchange ideas.[10]

Trump Administration[edit]

On July 10, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump nominated Combs to be the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget at the United States Department of the Interior.[12] Earlier in the year, Trump had considered naming Combs to be the secretary of agriculture, a position which went instead to Sonny Perdue, a former governor of Georgia. The administration cited Combs' career in public office and in the private sector as a small business owner with a ranch in the Big Bend section of West Texas as factors in her selection. U.S. Senator John Cornyn said that he will work for Combs' confirmation and called her "always a fierce advocate for rural Texans."[13]

Other activities[edit]

Combs served on the boards of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in Fort Worth and the Texas Wildlife Association. She has also served on the boards the Texas Beef Council and the Texas Production Credit Association.[14]

In 2016, Combs launched "HERdacity" a "nonprofit online platform and mobile app" intended to "give women with shared interests and career ambitions a forum to exchange ideas and offer each other support."[15] In addition, she wrote a memoir entitled Texas Tenacity.[15]


  1. ^ "Susan Combs". Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Welcome to the New Comptroller.Texas.Gov". Retrieved 2016-12-07. 
  3. ^ Svitek, Patrick. Trump to nominate former comptroller Combs for Interior Department job, Texas Tribune, Austin, Texas July 10, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Susan Combs". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved December 7, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Texas Republican runoff election, April 14, 1992". Texas Secretary of State. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Texas general election returns, November 3, 1992". Texas Secretary of State. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Susan Combs to Retire; 2014 Dominoes to Fall Without Rick Perry Decision". Burnt Orange Report. May 30, 2013. Retrieved November 24, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Zelinski, Andrea (2016-05-25). "Former Texas comptroller funds new tool to grade schools - Houston Chronicle". Retrieved 2016-12-07. 
  9. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2016-12-07. 
  10. ^ a b "Combs Taps Leftover Campaign Cash For Women's Project". The Texas Tribune. 2016-04-25. Retrieved 2016-12-07. 
  11. ^ Andrew, Zelinski, "Combs helps fund school rating website", San Antonio Express-News, May 27, 2016, p. A3
  12. ^ Svitek, Patrick. Trump to nominate former comptroller Combs for Interior Department job, Texas Tribune, Austin, Texas July 10, 2017.
  13. ^ "Trump picks former Texas Ag Commissioner for Interior post". Laredo Morning Times. July 11, 2017. Retrieved July 12, 2017. 
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 5, 2008. Retrieved December 8, 2008. 
  15. ^ a b Lutz, Elena Mejia (November 27, 2016). "Susan Combs' Next Act? Empowering Texas Women". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved December 7, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
Libby Linebarger
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 47th district

Succeeded by
Patty Keel
Political offices
Preceded by
Rick Perry
Agriculture Commissioner of Texas
Succeeded by
Todd Staples
Preceded by
Carole Keeton
Comptroller of Texas
Succeeded by
Glenn Hegar