The Texas State Republican Executive Committee voted Saturday to censure House Speaker Joe Straus, saying he has obstructed the party’s conservative agenda.
The vote was 44-19 to censure the speaker, who is not seeking re-election, surpassing the threshold requirement that two-thirds of the 64 SREC members — two from each of the 31 Senate districts, plus the chair and vice chair — approve the resolution for it to be enacted.
State Party Chair James Dickey and Vice Chair Amy Clark cast the decisive votes. Without them, the 42 votes for censure would have fallen one vote shy.
“This is a very unusual case … and this could have consequences for the party,” said Dickey, before making the dramatic announcement that he and Clark would vote for the censure, ensuring the Texas GOP’s repudiation of one of its most powerful elected officials.
“We have just done something that will go down in the history books of the Republican Party of Texas,” said SREC member JT Edwards.
The censure resolution was brought to the SREC, per party rules, by the executive committee of the party in Straus’ home county of Bexar. On Dec. 11, the Bexar County Republican Executive Committee voted by two-thirds to censure Straus and ask that the state executive committee concur.
The case against Straus is well tread.
SREC member Mark Dorazio said Straus had subverted the party’s platform, Gov. Greg Abbott’s agenda and the will of the party’s grassroots, preventing Texas — even with total GOP control — from becoming the “shining light on the hill” it ought to be.
But opponents of the resolution said that the censure was unnecessary since Straus has already announced that he will not seek another term in the House.
“How many times do we have to kick a dead dog before we’re sure it’s dead?” said SREC member Linda Kinney.
Straus spokesman Jason Embry said after the vote that, “Speaker Straus expected these antics from some people when he opposed their bathroom bill and helped prevent the harm it would have brought to our state.”
“He is proud to have represented the views of mainstream Texas Republicans, who have voiced overwhelming support for the speaker’s principled leadership on many issues,” Embry said. “Speaker Straus will continue working to support traditional Republican principles and re-elect Republicans who put their constituents first.
The quarterly SREC meeting is being held at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in South Austin.