McNeely’s master’s thesis in government was on the 1964 U.S. Senate race that George H. W. Bush lost. He first interviewed George W. Bush in 1978, when Bush was running for Congress. An expert on Texas politics when he joined the Austin American-Statesman in 1978, McNeely retired from the Statesman in 2004. He still writes a weekly column for more than two dozen Texas newspapers and remains the dean of the Texas Capitol press corps. McNeely also received an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship and a Nieman Fellowship from Harvard University.
McNeely co-taught a course at The University of Texas on “The Press and Politics” — with Paul Begala, who with James Carville ran Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential race, and then with Karl Rove, chief political adviser to George W. Bush as governor, and as President. McNeely later taught the course at UT by himself, and “Opinion Writing” at St. Edwards University in Austin.
McNeely and Jim Henderson co-authored, “Bob Bullock: God Bless Texas,” published by The University of Texas Press in 2008, about the most powerful lieutenant governor in Texas History. Bullock presided over the Texas Senate with an iron hand. during the administrations of Democratic Gov. Ann Richards, and then Republican Gov. George Bush. The colorful, contentious and driven Bullock was an LBJ aficionado and Democrat who had a large impact on Texas government, including promoting Republican Gov. Bush for president.
McNeely and his wife have five children and nine grandchildren.