SocraticGadfly: Joe Straus retiring as House Speaker in the #txlege (updated)

October 25, 2017

Joe Straus retiring as House Speaker in the #txlege (updated)

Frenemies Joe Straus and Greg Abbott
Texans who are political-minded know this is a seismic shift.

Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, who is in his fifth term, announced today he is not running for re-election.

First, what next for Joe? He announced he wants to keep influencing the Texas GOP in other ways. But he seemed to rule out any immediate run for political office, as in appearing to say "pass" for 2018.

That would seem to put the kibosh on friend Brains' speculations from earlier this year that Straus might look at an independent run for governor.

But —

1. Never say never with a politician.
2. And always look for their wiggle room.

Straus doesn't rule out future political runs, whether in 2018 or later. Nor does he rule out that his attempts to influence the state GOP could be done as an "independent" governor.

And, that all said, since I put a poll on Twitter, we're gonna have one here. Look right, in the right-hand rail. I've got multiple polls right now, so you might have to look carefully. But, vote in all of them.

In a presser after the Facebook announcement, per the Chronic and elsewhere, Straus said "I don't think so" and "no plan today" about running for governor. He also said he "highly doubt(ed)" he would be on the 2018 ballot.

However, none of those is "no."

My odds right now? About 10 percent that he would do it. It would take a massive war chest, among other things, but Texas Association of Business might well do it, over the bathroom bill if nothing else. And, he's reportedly (as of June 30) got $10 million already in his campaign war chest. And, over the past several years, he's the No. 1 fundraiser among state legiscritters.

And via "Joe Straus Republicans" in the House, he's got a network of ground-level support possibility.

If the door is open a crack, he'll neither open it wider for public consumption nor Katy bar the door  until after Thanksgiving, with the Dec. 11 filing deadline, is my guess.

Second question — who replaces him as Speaker?

I'm guesstimating that Straus is likely to try to line up support for Byron Cook. Would that be enough to put him over the top?

And, scratch that. Per the Chronic, Cook is also bowing out. Sounds like this might have been coordinated. Or, at a minimum, Cook didn't want an Arrow shirt from the tea partiers and when Straus gave him a heads up, he said "I'm outta here too."

John Zerwas, who falls somewhat between the Straus wing and nutbar wing of the Texas GOP, though closer overall to the Straus wing, has announced his candidacy for the Speakership. Phil King, who is most definitely from the nutbar wing, is also in. Eric Johnson has indicated interest in being the token Democrat.

Per Erica Greider, if there are 12 Republicans a top House Dem would support for speaker, then one of those GOPers, if he or she brings the other 11 along, that means Dems need to win 9 net seats in November 2018 or else one of those "dirty dozen" needs to find at least 9 other GOPers plus that group of 12, to pull a Straus.

Oh, and you inside-the-Mopac media? Stop calling Straus a "moderate Republican."


Does Straus want the Lite Gov spot, if he doesn't challenge Abbott but wants to keep his thumb on the scale of Texas Republican politics from the inside? I kind of doubt it. There's few Joe Straus Republicans in the Texas Senate and I think he'd face a fair amount of semi-open rebellion, even with his best manipulation of committee assignments.

Of course, there IS one other statewide office.

Since Matthew Dowd already bowed out as an independent candidate, Straus coulllldddd run against one Rafael Cruz for the Senate. I don't see that as likely, as it would remove Joe from state-level politics, but ... you never know.

Brains weighs in with thoughts and links.


Update, Dec. 17: JoeBob DID say he was going to stay involved with the Texas GOP's future in some way or another. Strangely, he's been silencio the last few weeks as Strangeabbott's kicked various "Straus Republicans" in the shins.

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