AUSTIN (KXAN) — Speaker Joe Straus, after 5-terms in the top spot in the Texas House, is not seeking re-election. However, he says he’s confident the next House speaker will be what he calls a “responsible Republican” and not a member of his foes in the “Texas Freedom Caucus.”
Straus, R- San Antonio, is confident a thoughtful Republican will be voted as next speaker. That’s despite his opponents in the far-right celebrating his voluntary exit.
State Rep. Johnathan Stickland, R-Bedford, tweeted “Victory!!” The Texas Freedom Caucus Twitter account reacted with, “It’s morning again in Texas!”
“That’s the only victory they get because they sure as heck couldn’t beat me. They tried,” said Speaker Straus.
For years, a few dozen called him a tyrant as he was a major voice against controversial measures like requiring Texans to use the bathroom based on their biological sex and scrapping in-state tuition for students brought illegally to the United States as children.
“I’d tell them to get with the program. To drop the silly stuff. To start engaging on issues that really matter to most people, that matter to the future prosperity of our state. To consider other people’s opinions.”
He says he will not run in 2018, but will continue as speaker until 2019. However, he will campaign for his allies — in his words “responsible Republicans” — as his opponents in the Tea Party get ready to pounce.
“My team has certainly tried to be polite and let them have their voice. They have a right to their voice. But they’re never going to be running the show here as long as they’re self limiting the way they are. Most people aren’t going to want to identify the way they practice politics,” said Straus.
The speaker is selected by the 150 members of the Texas House.
The House Republican Caucus is looking at changing their rules, so to select a speaker candidate as a party and then pledge to vote for them. That would sideline Democrats in the process. Democrats consistently delivered their votes to Speaker Straus.
There are two declared candidates for speaker so far: Weatherford Rep. Phil King and Houston area Rep. John Zerwas, who is considered a strong Straus ally.