Straus Bets Big Against Conservatives

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is once again campaigning against conservatives in 2012. In state, he is fundraising against the re-election of conservative State Rep. James White in favor of carpet-bagging moderate Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton. And nationally, Mr. Straus has endorsed the lackluster moderate Mitt Romney for president.

Straus is betting big against Texas conservatives. Once was the time when Joe Straus said as speaker he wouldn’t campaign against incumbents. Of course, that was in the 2010 election season, when the Republican Straus was actively working to help Democrat incumbents like former State Rep. Patrick Rose stay in office. But the conservative tide swept Rose and 22 other Straus-aligned Democrats from the Texas House.

This go-round, Speaker Straus’ GOP redistricting team sought to punish conservatives like James White. You see, Mr. White defeated a Straus Democratic committee chair, Jim McReynolds, in the ’10 general election. The Straus team radically redistricted Mr. White, putting him into all new territory. To add insult to injury, the Speaker’s go-to guy on gambling, the aforementioned Mr. Hamilton, moved districts and across county lines so he could challenge Mr. White.

(Mr. Hamilton is the chairman of the House Licensing Committee, which has jurisdiction over gambling expansion.)

This coming Wednesday (2/29), the Texas Association of Realtors political action committee is hosting a luncheon fundraiser in Austin for Hamilton — headlined by Speaker Straus. (See the fundraising invitation below, or by on the Realtors’ website.)

This is the same Speaker Straus who said he “would not campaign against incumbents of any party.” Now he is actively working to defeat an African-American conservative, former teacher and retired US Army officer — in favor of a moderate, big-tax, big-government lackey.

(It’s interesting to note that by raising money for Hamilton, Speaker Straus is now publicly engaged in a full-out campaign against tort reform powerhouse Texans for Lawsuit Reform. TLR has endorsed the conservative Mr. White, and criticized Mr. Hamilton. This isn’t the only case. In other races around the state, Mr. Straus’ consiglieres, advisors, lackeys and consultants are running just-below-the-radar races against other tort-reform champions.)

Not surprisingly, Joe Straus’ embrace of leftward-tilting Republicans extend beyond Texas politics.

Earlier this week it was reported that recent polling found former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is the far-and-away favorite of Texas Republican primary voters, with former Massachuetts governor Mitt Romney a distant third. Like Joe Straus, Mr. Romney is a moderate-at-best Republican (remember RomneyCare?) who is suddenly trying (painfully) to present himself as “severly” conservative. The day after finding Republican voters in Texas overwhelmingly oppose Mitt Romney, Joe Straus endorsed him.

Is your state representative still supporting Joe Straus’ reelection for speaker in 2013? With Mr. Straus working so actively against conservatives, now is a good time to ask.

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Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael is president and CEO of Empower Texans. A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Sullivan is married with three children. He divides his time between the Metroplex, the rest of Texas, and Austin.

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