Just as I said would happen, the usual suspects are blasting emails, Facebook posts and Tweets claiming that they were responsible for ‘ousting’ Speaker Joe Straus. Dr. Steve Hotze even made a video praising God for the victory.
The horses prepared for battle but the victory belongs to the Lord.
The thing is, that it isn’t quite the truth. Oh sure, Speaker Straus did announce he was not running for re-election, that much is surely true. But the ousting part? Not so much.
Embry also had the tally for the Speaker elections:
The members consistently voted for Straus because he did what he said he would do – he let the members run the place. He called it the ‘will of the House’ and took the heat for those representatives that didn’t have the courage to publicly go against the loudest activists in the party.
Harvey Kronberg at the Quorum Report lays out the truth.
It remains to be seen if the business community and local governments as well as the teachers coalesce after this demeaning session, but they have pretty much lost all confidence in two of the big three.
Speaker Joe Straus today stunned even his closest colleagues with his announcement that he would not seek re-election to his seat in the House. This after polling in the field showed that even his weakest San Antonio precincts were solidly behind him. In addition, there was no possible math that did not have him re-elected to lead the House.
While his low opinion of the hysteria-based rhetoric of other statewide officials and the off the rails priorities of the special session(many but for his efforts) would have further made the recovery of the Gulf Coast even more protracted than it would otherwise be were barely camouflaged, one of the great stings had to be Governor Greg Abbott reassuring CEOs that Straus would kill the bathroom bill at the same time he was rallying pastors to sermonize on its behalf from the pulpit.
Obviously, I don’t think Kronberg was as stunned as others seemed to be. Beyond that, a couple of things stand out. First, as Kronberg points out, there was zero chance that Straus would not have been re-elected, both to his seat and to the Speaker’s gavel. Zero. Second, he reminds us of the duplicity of Abbott. Think about that as you re-read Kronberg’s opening line:
It remains to be seen if the business community and local governments as well as the teachers coalesce after this demeaning session, but they have pretty much lost all confidence in two of the big three (emphasis mine).
If there is one thing that Speaker Straus is not it is duplicitous. He isn’t going to rail against something publicly while privately supporting it, unlike Gov. Abbott’s ‘bathroom bill’ shenanigans. It simply isn’t his style.
I think probably the biggest factor in his decision can be found in these statements (emphasis mine):
“A confident leader knows when it’s time to give it back,” Straus said. “And I feel really good about the last year or so when I’ve been able to speak for myself about issues I care about and not necessarily every member of the legislature’s priority. And the reception I’ve gotten since I’ve been more outspoken has been really strong and really positive. And so I want to do more of that, find other ways to serve the state.”
“And I have to tell you as I’ve traveled the state, speaking out on issues that I think are important to our economy and important to most people, not just Republicans but most Texans who want to see our economy and our opportunities grow and…do things that attract jobs and not chase them away, the response I’m getting is very, very strong. And I’ve had people suggest, on a daily basis, that I run for another office, I don’t have plans to do that but I will be looking forward to speaking out more and more about issues that I think are important to most people. What that leads to, we will have to see. But I think there is a hunger for a republican voice out there that stresses issues that maybe haven’t gotten enough attention around the Capitol the last few years.”
Last year, before he decided to speak for himself, Speaker Straus spoke to the C-Club of Houston. His speech was about education in Texas and the path forward. By all accounts it was a complete flop. It was dispassionate and the reports were that he didn’t say anything of note on the issues. You know the kind of speech that when you leave you are left wondering what the heck the speaker was saying? That kind. Perhaps that speech and the reviews of it contributed to Speaker Straus deciding to speak on his priorities instead of trying to thread the needle representing 149 other voices. For Dr. Hotze’s pleasure, there is something in the Bible about being lukewarm.
Whatever caused him to reach the decision to give Texas Republicans an alternative voice to the increasingly shrill ones that have dominated Republican primaries the past few years is mighty welcome in my household. As I said yesterday, for now it is just a dream but sometimes dreams come true.
Mount the horses and prepare for battle. There is an army of PTA’s, PTO’s, local elected officials and business owners to organize.