Straus successor as speaker likely to cut a more conservative figure


Highlights

There are already two candidates to succeed Joe Straus as speaker, but no clear favorite.

The eventual winner may come from the more conservative ranks of the House Republican Caucus.

No sooner had Joe Straus announced Wednesday, seemingly out the blue, that he would be not seek re-election as a member of the House in 2018 and an unprecedented sixth term as speaker in 2019, than Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, let it be known that he had filed the paperwork to succeed Straus as speaker.

But Zerwas, a Straus loyalist who serves as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, might be a longshot in a contest that will favor someone more in the conservative ideological center among House Republicans, and not someone in the mold of Straus, who, while in the middle among all members of the House — Democrats and Republicans — was at the moderate extreme for a Republican.

While the choice of the speaker will be made by Republican and Democratic House members when the next session convenes in January 2019, there has been a concerted push among House conservatives, the state Republican Party and grassroots activists, to have the House Republican Caucus make its choice of speaker before it goes to the full House, and then apply pressure on all Republicans to stick with the caucus choice.

RELATED: Joe Straus’ rise to speaker: Right time, right place

They want to avoid the circumstance in 2009 when Straus deposed then-Republican Speaker Tom Craddick by gaining the support of 10 key Republican members and the Democratic minority.

“I think his successor will be chosen in caucus, so I think it will be someone who will give conservatives a seat at the table,” said Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, made up of the dozen most assertively conservative members of the House.

“But as far as names, I can only say that in these situations, it is always someone no one is thinking of at the outset of the process,” Rinaldi said.

Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, announced last month he planned to challenge Straus, and said Wednesday he remains all in.

Lots of other names have been bandied about. There’s Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, who as Ways and Means chairman and speaker pro tempore of the Texas House of Representatives, has been a top Straus lieutenant but with a sharper edge and more conservative ideology. There’s Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, chairman of the House GOP Caucus, and Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, who chairs the House Republican Caucus Policy Committee, and Rep. James Frank, R-Wichita Falls, who heads the Texas Conservative Coalition, among others.

Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, issued a statement asserting that, “As past speakers have been, the next speaker will be elected only with bipartisan support.”

But Straus’ departure may signal that that way of doing business is a relic of a bygone era.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Lakeway City Council discusses citizen engagement measures
Lakeway City Council discusses citizen engagement measures

A couple city council members want the city of Lakeway to up its efforts at engaging the community, and are proposing several measures to accomplish this. During the Nov. 20 council meeting, Councilwoman Jean Hennagin made a presentation for a Lakeway “engagement committee,” and put forward ideas brainstormed along with Councilman Keith...
Transgender Day of Remembrance held outside Austin City Hall
Transgender Day of Remembrance held outside Austin City Hall

The tone of the Transgender Day of Remembrance event held outside Austin City Hall on Monday evening was, as always, a bittersweet mix of hope and sadness as organizers and attendees proclaimed their pride to be transgender and mourned the loss of transgender individuals who were killed this year. For years, Austin has participated in the international...
EAST AUSTIN FIRE: Mobile home blaze in Bastrop Highway under control, officials say
EAST AUSTIN FIRE: Mobile home blaze in Bastrop Highway under control, officials say

A fire at a mobile home located in East Austin near U.S. 183 is now under control, Austin fire officials said Monday night.  The structure at the 500 block of Bastrop Highway was heavily involved when the fire was reported about 10 p.m., officials said. The mobile home was abandoned and no one was injured, officials said. 
U.S. 183, I-35 projects waver after Abbott, Patrick trash tolls
U.S. 183, I-35 projects waver after Abbott, Patrick trash tolls

Several key Central Texas highway projects — including expansions of U.S. 183 in North Austin, U.S. 290 in Southwest Austin and Interstate 35 through the heart of the area — are once again in limbo after Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick last week staked out firm anti-toll positions. “Right now there’s a billion dollars...
UPDATE: Fire at downtown Hilton hotel now out, fire officials say 
UPDATE: Fire at downtown Hilton hotel now out, fire officials say 

11:30 p.m. update: The Hilton Hotel in downtown Austin was partially evacuated Monday night after a dryer malfunction on the third floor, Austin fire officials said. Firefighters responded around 7:15 p.m., and all guests were allowed back in around 10 p.m. The fire was confined to a laundry room, but the fire is estimated to have caused $200...
More Stories