State Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, filed Monday morning to run for speaker of the Texas House, making him the fourth Republican to throw his hat in the ring in the race to succeed retiring House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio.
"We're coming out of the summer and I think it's time we get serious about the political process," Clardy told The Texas Tribune. "I think it's more important than ever that we make a decision as a House to pick our leadership, and be prepared to start the 86th Legislature with a strong, positive step and a vision for the future."
Straus announced in October that he did not plan to run for re-election in 2018. Texas House members traditionally select a speaker on the first day of a legislative session. The next session will begin in January 2019, unless Gov. Greg Abbott calls a special session before then.
The day after Straus announced his plans to step down, Clardy told his local paper he would consider a run for the position. He enters a speaker's race that already includes Democrat Eric Johnson of Dallas and three Republicans: Tan Parker of Flower Mound, Phil King of Weatherford and John Zerwas of Richmond.
Ahead of the next regular session, House Republicans agreed to select a speaker in their caucus and then vote as a bloc on the floor. Prior to the March 6 primaries, House Republicans pushed incumbents and candidates to sign a form promising to ultimately support the caucus pick. While Parker and King have signed the form, Zerwas and Clardy have not. Clardy told the Tribune Monday, however, that he does intend to vote with his party next session on who should succeed Straus.
"I'm a lifelong Republican and I was at the convention, but that pledge was originally prepared before we did the caucus vote. It's kind of redundant," Clardy told the Tribune. "I already voted with the caucus to support a Republican nominee out of our caucus to be the next speaker. It's kind of backwards to pledge to do something I've already done."
Clardy, an attorney, is serving his third term in the House and is vice chairman of the Local and Consent Calendars Committee. He's also a member of the House Higher Education and Energy Resources committees.
"I can not envision a scenario where we will not nominate a Republican from our caucus," Clardy said. "It is my belief and hope that my colleagues in the House will join me in thinking I'm the best person for that job."