Texas House Speaker Joe Straus Says He Will Not Seek Re-Election

We Say: This is ‘Late-Breaking’ news (about noon Wednesday) after we were finished planning and formatting the website updates and Revere Report alerts. This story supersedes the story about the formation of a PAC to unseat Speaker Straus, but they are so related we will publish them both.

Both articles represent victories for grassroots activism such as that of San Antonio Tea Party. The formation of a Political Action Committee specifically to unseat Speaker Straus is the result of a groundswell of Conservative Activists across Texas moving within the ranks of the Texas Republican Party to show displeasure with Straus’s anti-conservatism. 

Joe Straus (correctly) reading the strength of his political opposition and deciding the race is not worth it is the direct result of YOUR activism. Reach around and give yourselves a pat on the back, Conservative activists! The state will note and for a while remember your power. 

Republished from TexasTribune.org, by   Image credit: Bob Daemmrich. Contributor: Donald Krebs.

House Speaker Joe Straus announces to the Capitol press that he will not seek re-election in 2018, opening up the speaker's race to a number of candidates for the 2019 session.   Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

House Speaker Joe Straus announces to the Capitol press that he will not seek re-election in 2018, opening up the speaker’s race to a number of candidates for the 2019 session.
Photo: Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican, announced Wednesday he will not run for re-election.  He did not rule out running for higher office. 

House Speaker Joe Straus announces to the Capitol press that he will not seek re-election in 2018, opening up the speaker’s race to a number of candidates for the 2019 session.  

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican, announced Wednesday he will not run for re-election in 2018, a decision that has the potential to upend the political balance of power in the state.

Straus, who has lately been the most powerful moderate Republican in the Texas Capitol, said he will serve until the end of his term. That means there will be a new speaker when the Legislature next convenes in 2019.

His decision will immediately set in motion a scrum for control of the House, pitting arch-conservative members who have opposed Straus against more centrist Republicans. Within hours, one of Straus’ top lieutenants, Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, announced that he had filed to run for the speaker’s post. State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, has already announced he is running. Other candidates are expected to jump in.

Straus has clashed with hardline conservatives in recent years, not least Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Tea Party leaders and their allies have blamed Straus for killing controversial measures backed by the far right, most notably a bill that would have regulated which bathrooms transgender Texans could use.

“I believe that in a representative democracy, those who serve in public office should do so for a time, not for a lifetime. And so I want you to know that my family and I have decided that I will not run for re-election next year,” Straus said in a campaign email. “My time as a State Representative and as Speaker will end at the conclusion of my current term.”

The announcement prompted gloating by Straus’ critics and regret from his allies. Rep. Matt Schaefer,  R-Tyler, who clashed with Straus as chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, tweeted, “It’s morning in Texas again!” Straus ally Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, said: “I’m disappointed but I respect his decision.”

Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who Straus has tussled with in recent months, thanked the speaker in a short statement. 

“Joe Straus has served with distinction for both the people in his district and for the Texas House of Representatives,” he said. 

Speaking with reporters after the announcement inside his office, Straus said he finally took the advice he always gives members: After any session, go home and talk to your constituents and family, and then make a decision about whether to run again.

 “A confident leader knows it’s time to give it back,” Straus said.

Asked if he planned to run for any other office in the future, Straus said he is “not one to close doors.” He acknowledged he has received encouragement to run for other offices and did not rule out the possibility of a gubernatorial bid. But he said he doubts he will be on the ballot in 2018.

As for the race to succeed him as speaker, Straus suggested he would not get involved. 

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for people who aren’t members in the Legislature in the next session to really register an opinion on that,” Straus said.

The announcement immediately set into motion speculation about the future of Straus’ top lieutenants. One of his closest allies, Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, who is chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, said in a statement first reported by Quorum Report that he “will pursue other opportunities to serve our great state.”

Another lieutenant, Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, was noncommittal. The current chairman of the House Education Committee said “people will know” when he makes a decision. He added he “literally just found out two minutes ago” about his colleagues’ retirements.

If Straus had remained in office and won the speakership, it would have been a record-breaking sixth term as leader of the chamber. First elected to his district in 2005 in a special election, Straus has been speaker since 2009.

In his statement, Straus acknowledged his decision was “unexpected.”

 “It’s been decades since someone has left the Speaker’s office on his own terms. But we have accomplished what I hoped the House would accomplish when I first entered this office, and I am increasingly eager to contribute to our state in new and different ways.”

No longer serving as speaker would allow a “greater opportunity to express my own views and priorities,” Straus said, adding that he would “continue to work for a Republican Party that tries to bring Texans together instead of pulling us apart.”

As speaker, Straus increasingly clashed with conservative elements within the GOP over issues like private school vouchers and the bathroom bill championed by Patrick. He was also openly critical of Abbott’s agenda for the July special session, comparing it to “a room full of horse manure.”

“Our party should be dynamic and forward-thinking, and it should appeal to our diverse population with an optimistic vision that embraces the future,” Straus said in the campaign email. “I plan to be a voice for Texans who want a more constructive and unifying approach to our challenges, from the White House on down.”

Morgan Smith, Patrick Svitek, Alexa Ura and Cassandra Pollock contributed to this report. 

Republished from TexasTribune.org. CLICK HERE to read the original.


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One Response to "Texas House Speaker Joe Straus Says He Will Not Seek Re-Election"

  1. Grady  October 25, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    Wanna’ bet he shows up as a candidate for Lt. Governor in the next election?

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