Speaker Straus fends off challenge from the right

Texas state Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, left, is sworn in as Speaker of the House on the opening day of the 2015 Legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas state Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, left, is sworn in as Speaker of the House on the opening day of the 2015 Legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The first day of the Texas Legislative session brought a historic battle for control in the house when Tea Party conservative Scott Turner and his supporters tried to oust Joe Straus as Speaker of the House.

Grassroots activists decked out in “Team Turner” gear descended on the capitol Tuesday. Tuner’s supporters think Straus, the four-term Speaker of the House from San Antonio, is not conservative enough.

“Sixty percent of Texans voted for a more conservative direction,”  said Michael Smith, a grassroots supporter of Turner. “Speaker Straus, I’m sure he’s a good man, but he doesn’t reflect the values of Texas.”

For lawmakers, The first thing to do after taking their oath is vote on who holds sway over the gavel.

“There comes a time when one must take a position that’s neither safe, nor politic, nor popular,” said Rep. Jeff Leach, who nominated Turner in front of his peers. And with that, a vote was on for the first time in four decades.

In front of friends and family, lawmakers cast their vote. Then, applause as the tallies lit up.

Straus garnered 127 votes, and Turner picked up 19.

“We will not apologize for building coalitions on behalf of people we represent,” Straus said, “because that’s the best way to deliver results for Texas.”

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