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Straus and Strain in the GOP

Long hallway in the State Capitol
Photo by KUT
A battle is brewing in these Capitol hallways over who the House Speaker will be


Today Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) withdrew his pledge for Straus. In a statement he said he made his decission after receiving a phone call from an unnamed lawmaker he says is on Straus's leadership team.

"This member brought up the subject of redistricting and explained to me how that process would be used to punish those members not on Speaker Straus's list of supporters.  More specifically, this member told me that maps were already being drawn to get rid of Representative-Elect Erwin Cain (R-Sulphur Springs) and Representative Dan Flynn (R-Van), because they were not on the Speaker's list of supporters.  I was then told that i had nothing to worry about in redistrcting, so long as i stayed on the Speaker's list. This conversation first saddened and then disgusted me."

Hughes did not say who he would support.  For now Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) is the only other official candidate in the race.


The massive Republican majority in the Texas House has widened the discussion among the GOP caucus about keepingState Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) as House Speaker.

The Young Conservatives of Texas sent a letter this morning to incoming Republican house members, comparing the track record of committee chairs appointed by Speaker Straus at the beginning of the 2009 Legislature to those appointed by former Speaker Tom Craddick (R-Midland) during his three terms leading the House.

Straus was elected speaker in the 2009 legislative session, after a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats banded togetherto oust Craddick from the speaker's chair.

In the letter, Tony McDonald, the senior vice chairman of the Young Conservatives, writes that reelecting Straus as speaker could jeopardize a more conservative agenda he says is back by many GOP members and grassroots supporters.

If reelected, will Speaker Straus again appoint the most liberal Republican to replace McCall in control of the House’s legislative agenda? If so, a vote for Straus amounts to a vote to block conservative legislators out of the legislative process.

Straus is being challenged by State Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa).  McDonald told KUT News that the Young Conservatives want to see a more conservative speaker elected by the House Republican Caucus behind closed doors, with no input from minority Democrats.  While keeping options open for other conservative candidates, McDonald says that, for now, their group would be willing to back Rep. Chisum.

Last week, Rep. Straus released a lengthy list of House members who have agreed to back him for a return engagement as the chamber's presiding officer. 

Ian Crawford joined KUT as News Editor in 2008, after spending over four years as a reporter/anchor at KLBJ Radio in Austin. He began his broadcasting career while still in high school in Southern Oregon. During high school and college at the University of Oregon, he worked at times as a reporter, news anchor, sports play-by-play reporter, music host and commercial producer before moving to Texas in 2003.
Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.