Just a week before the special session is set to begin, Republicans in House Speaker Joe Straus’ home county of Bexar voted in favor of a resolution calling for new leadership in the Texas House.
In a vote of 36-28, members at the Bexar County Executive Committee meeting passed a resolution by Mike O’Donnell calling for a change of leadership in the Texas House due to Straus’ failure to support the party platform. A video of the motion and the vote was posted on Facebook Live by Patty Gibbons, a Bexar County Republican who voted in favor of the resolution, and may be viewed here.
“We of Bexar County GOP resolve that there should be a change in leadership in the Texas House speakership due to the non-support of the RPT platform by the current incumbent,” the resolution reads.
According to Jason Vaughn of The Hay Ride, who broke the story this morning, “some opposed the resolution due to the fear that perception that infighting was bad for the party. Others believed the public infighting of Texas GOP leaders was more harmful.”
“This constant infighting is what’s hurting Republicans right now,” one woman can be heard saying to Patty Gibbons in the video.
“This isn’t infighting. This is democracy. Democracy is messy,” she responds.
Straus has been one of the more controversial figures in Texas politics due to his well-documented anathema to the conservative reforms that have been repeatedly placed in the RPT platform. Just this past session, Straus conspired with Democrats and liberal Republicans to kill property tax reform, higher ethical standards for elected officials, and the majority of the Republican Party’s legislative priorities.
Though there have been several attempts to dislodge him, both in Austin and in his district, all have fallen short. Though Straus is far out of touch with even mainstream Republicans in terms of belief and tone – evidenced by his referring to Abbott’s agenda for the special session as “horse manure” – his supporters have claimed that his beliefs are in line with his much more moderate district.
As many who have ever been involved on a campaign know firsthand, elected officials always strive to maintain a loyal cabal at the local level. These support bases are key to staying elected and the strength of that power structure is generally commensurate with the finances and authority of the elected official in question.
But last night Straus’ support structure sputtered and failed, and his own county party voted to support his removal.
As Vaughn correctly notes, the move is particularly surprising because Straus has long enjoyed strong support in his home county – trouncing challengers to his house seat by margins as high as 80 percent. Although conservatives statewide have long recognized Straus’ obstruction of conservative reforms, it is a particularly damning indictment that his own hometown GOP committee members – many of whom are his neighbors – have lost faith in his ability to govern according to the needs of Texans.