The most important race in Texas is the one you haven’t heard about. Texas Representative Scott Turner is making his way around Texas, taking his conservative message directly to the people, to explain why he, and not Joe Straus, should be Speaker in the Texas House of Representatives. The message is simple: Without a conservative Speaker there will be no conservative legislation. Conservative leadership in the House is required if Texas wants conservative solutions to the challenges that lie ahead. The Lt. Governor and the Governor are powerful positions in the Texas state government, but without a conservative Speaker in the House, Texans will have to brace themselves for continued excessive spending and liberal social agenda.
The Speaker controls the committee assignments and which pieces of legislation are put into which committee. In practice this means no legislation is likely to see a floor vote unless it receives the speaker’s blessing. Joe Straus successfully won the speakership first in 2009 when he and ten other Republicans, known as the “Gang of 11”, banded together with the Democrats in the House to oust Tom Craddick. Since taking over, Straus has consistently ranked among the most liberal Republicans in the House, and as long as he holds the speakership, only liberal legislation will get through. Representatives who want the choicest committee assignments require the Speaker’s favor, which means backing his legislation.
Scott Turner offers Texas the best alternative to Joe Straus. Turner is unafraid to challenge Straus’ leadership. Fear of Straus’ retribution is one reason there have been so few challengers. If Turner loses, he will be ostracized in the House by Straus and lose any influence he might have. Turner has the strength of character necessary to take on Straus. Also, Turner is an unwavering conservative with an impeccable voting record. Rep. Scott Turner received a 100% rating from Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and an equally conservative ranking from Rice University’s Mark Jones writing for the Texas Tribune.
Given the positive economic trajectory our state is on as a result of the boom in the energy sector, it appears everything is fine and this is much ado about nothing. In good economic times, it’s easy to look the other way when confronted with challenges. Or as the Latin writer Publilius Syrus wrote, “Anyone can hold the helm in calm seas.” But the good times don’t last forever and the gains during those times can be turned into losses down the road under poor leadership. The time to make changes is when the problems are still manageable and our judgment is unclouded by immediate demands. At present, we can rationally comprehend the differences between Straus and Turner and then assess whether Straus’ values align with those of other conservatives. We have the time to calmly deliberate about what’s best for Texas without the burden of a down economy looming over us. If we wait until things take a turn for the worse—because they will under poor leadership—we are more likely to make a rash decision. Now is the time to act by contacting representatives in the House and let them know who conservatives want as the Speaker come January 2015.
With Dan Patrick as Lt. Governor and Greg Abbott in the governor’s seat, Scott Turner would complete the conservative triumvirate that Texas needs to properly navigate next session and beyond. During the 83rd legislature, Texas raided the rainy day fund and increased its spending by more than $22 billion. Pressing issues like immigration, roads, education, energy and water require real solutions and not just bags of money thrown at them as band aids.
The Speaker is not elected by the people of Texas but by the members of the House. So the best way to get Straus out of the speakership is to put pressure on those representatives. And, if they won’t do it, elect someone who will. As the old adage goes: We will never change our leaders until we change the people who elect them. Texas needs Rep. Scott Turner as our next Speaker of the House.