Politics

With Straus’ Retirement, Last Obstacle To Tea Party Control Of Texas GOP Falls

As House Speaker, Joe Straus regularly blocked social conservative priorities that he argued would hurt Texas’ economy. That put him at odds both with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick but many of his Republican House colleagues

 

Joe Straus spent much of his final term as House Speaker as a foil to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, blocking measures such as the so-called bathroom bill and property tax relief. Straus’ decision to retire is likely to complete the takeover of the Texas GOP by tea party and social conservatives.

Straus won five terms as speaker, through a combination of moderate Republican and Democratic support. He led his chamber from the center even as the state Republican Party shifted ever further to the right.

“Joe Straus was the last, sort of, business friendly, chamber of commerce Republican who had real power in Texas politics,” said Cal Jillson, professor of political science at Southern Methodist University. “Straus was seen by many Republicans and certainly all tea party Republicans as an impediment to the conservative agenda that they wanted to push through the Texas Legislature, and it may well be that that impediment that that impediment will now be removed.”

Jillson said the next speaker is far more likely to come from the tea party ranks rather than those of Straus’s lieutenants.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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