Speaker Joe Straus
I first ran for the Texas House in 2005 to be a voice for our community and for the principles that I had spent years advancing behind the scenes. It did not occur to me that I would ever become Speaker of the House. (And I’ve learned that it didn’t occur to anyone else, either!)
However, after an unusual and unexpected chain of events, my 149 colleagues chose me to be our presiding officer less than four years later. I’ve since won re-election four times with the support of an overwhelming majority of House Members from each political party. In every legislative session, I’ve tried to bring real solutions to real challenges. For example, we’ve made significant gains in K-12 and higher education, water, transportation, and mental health care. But just as important as what we’ve done is the way in which we’ve done it. Even as politics has become more tribal and divisive, I’ve led by bringing people together and working across party lines. We’ve fallen short at times. But on our best days, we have shown that there is still a place for civility and statesmanship in American politics.
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. My time as a State Representative and as Speaker will end at the conclusion of my current term.
Just as my ascension to the Speaker’s office was unconventional and my approach to governing is unusual in these divisive times, I know this is also an unexpected decision. It’s been decades since someone has left the Speaker’s office on his own terms. But we have accomplished what I had 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.
Instead of acting on behalf of the entire House, I will now have a greater opportunity to express my own views and priorities. I will also continue to work for a Republican Party that tries to bring Texans together instead of us pulling us apart. Our party should be dynamic and forward-thinking, and it should appeal to our diverse population with an optimistic vision that embraces the future. 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.
I want to thank Julie and our daughters, Sara and Robyn, for their love and support. I also want to thank my parents, Joci and Joe, who have set a wonderful example for me and taught me a true appreciation for public service. I want to thank my House colleagues for giving me the privilege of leading, and I want to thank the members of my staff who have worked so tirelessly to help the House succeed. Most of all, I want to thank the people of District 121 in Bexar County for giving me the chance to work on your behalf. Your strong support has provided a foundation upon which I could stand and provide leadership for our entire state.
One of my heroes, President George H.W. Bush, said, “Any definition of a successful life must include serving others.” I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the Texas House, and I look forward to talking to you more in the future about my continued service to the state of Texas.
It may seem shocking to some but if you’ve read between the lines the past couple of years, it has become increasingly apparent that Straus has been very frustrated with the direction of the Republicans in Texas. As have many of us.
Sure, he would have won re-election, both to his seat and as Speaker. But realistically, the only thing he would have gained by doing that would be to block some of the more asinine proposals of the Senate. As well, the Senate would have continued to block his attempts to improve education, keep local control and improve the business climate in the state.
I’m most interested in the last line of his statement:
I look forward to talking to you more in the future about my continued service to the state of Texas.
Texas will certainly benefit from whatever he chooses to do in the future, just as we have greatly benefited from his service in the House. There are many of us that would love to see him take on either the Governor or the Lt. Governor next year. Unfortunately, most Texans have given up and don’t vote in the primaries, so the chances of him winning a primary are slim to none. While we can dream about November voters showing up in March, it is simply that, a dream. Until they do, for the right candidate. Who knows?
The usual suspects will be blasting out emails, Facebook posts and Tweets about how they got rid of the RINO. Because that is what the political arena in the country has devolved into. Insults instead of ideas. Slander instead of thoughtfulness. A purity test instead of a big tent.
As for me, I’ll simply say thank you to a man that was able to serve his state honorably and with distinction and grace. I look forward to hearing about his future plans even as I dream about what they could be.