Republicans handed Texas House power to Democrats and aren’t sure how to get it back

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Robert Pratt

“Talk of taking on Straus simmering, but nowhere near a full boil,” read the headline of an opinion piece by Ross Ramsey at the Texas Tribune. In the piece Ramsey describes a few useful things about the process of electing a Texas House speaker and a few past races for the post but the only thing that matters to Straus and his ability to keep power away from conservatives is this bit:

“Straus upset Craddick with a coalition of fewer than two dozen Republicans and almost all of the Democrats. At the time, the Republicans had only a two-vote majority, so a coalition was the only way to pull it off.”

And that’s all you really need to know. Liberal Republican Straus holds power because he was elected mainly by the Democrat caucus. He remains Speaker of the House because Democrats understand that there is no conservative member from whom they’ll get a better deal and thus have no reason to divide and encourage a race for a new leader of the chamber.

The speaker position is so powerful that there is a large number of Republican caucus members who stand a good chance of losing powerful committee chairmanships and appointments if there was a different man in the speaker chair. With forty committees and other key power appointments in the hands of a speaker, there simply are not enough easily available votes from the Republican caucus to elect a new speaker.

A challenger would need a bunch of Democrat votes too and if a challenger could get a bunch of Democrat votes you can be assured such a person would most certainly not be a conservative of any kind. Short of Straus’ committee chairmen turning against him, Democrats will continue to exercise significant control of the Texas House as minority party.

What do you think?...

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