One of the nation’s leading grassroots groups, FreedomWorks, stepped out this week with an early speakership endorsement for the Texas House. As noted shortly after by AgendaWise, this early endorsement by a group that also came out early for Ted Cruz’s successful senatorial bid should make legislators start asking questions.
Incumbent Speaker Joe Straus is being challenged by State Rep. Bryan Hughes. FreedomWorks endorsed Mr. Hughes.
Legislators who had been looking to ride the fence on the speakership — hoping their constituents would forget about leadership issues — are finding that path won’t be so easy.
Why the early endorsement by FW? This is how AgendaWise‘s Daniel Greer puts it:
Straus is sending clear signals that his intention is to continue to marginalize the growing number of genuine conservatives Texans are sending to Austin. Consistently at the top of his to-do list during the upcoming session are water, education and infrastructure. By focusing on important things like this, and by framing all problems as lack-of-money problems, Straus can avoid discussing any of the ways to make our government more efficient.
For his part, Speaker Straus — first elected to his post by 65 Democrats and 11 Republicans — was predictably dismissive of FW’s endorsement against him. (Kind of the same way he has been dismissive of the Texas Budget Compact in general, and constitutional spending limits.)
But can rank-and-file House members who so rely heavily on grassroots support so quickly dismiss the wishes of their base? That’s the question they have to ask themselves, and do so considering the fates of Sid Miller, Vicki Truitt, Todd Smith, Chuck Hopson and Rob Eissler.
The Texas GOP platform explicitly calls for House members “to hold public town hall meetings in which the voters can express their wishes and thoughts about the leadership for the 83rd Session.”
Over the next several months, GOP legislators will have decide if they want to promote the leadership of a moderate who opposes significant portions of the GOP platform, or want a conservative sitting in the chamber’s dais.