Texas Speaker Race - November update and call to action

Where do things stand in the Texas Speaker’s race? Let’s recap how far we’ve come. It’s been a month since the Tsunami election delivered a Republican super-majority to the Texas statehouse, and the first ‘surprise’ of Nov 2nd was how many seats flipped, creating the opportunity for a more conservative Speaker, one not beholden to Democrats as Speaker Straus was in the last session.

A review of status and events is below, for your information.

(0) Where things stand right now –

The count of Texas State Representatives publicly calling for a new speaker stands at 21 (most are endorsing Rep Ken Paxton): http://manifestdesigns.com/2010.11.24.GOP.Reps.pdf

The count of Texas citizen-activists and leaders doing the same stands at 6,400 as of Dec 1, 2010.

Add your name to that list here: http://conservativespeakermandate.com/

(1) Flowchart on the Speaker race, created by The Texas Tribune. The flowchart shows the “who’s who” in the Speaker’s race:

(2)  Rep Warren Chisum announced his candidacy for Speaker of the Texas House on October 13: http://bit.ly/ewxj8l

(3) Rep Ken Paxton announced his bid for Texas Speaker on Nov 11, and he now has his Speaker of the Texas House campaign website up at:

(4) The Austin American Statesman has a “postcard” history of its coverage of the Speaker’s Race which includes stories way back to January 9th, 2007:

(5) On Nov 4, Texas conservative leaders endorsed Empower Texans’ (Michael Quinn Sullivan’s group) Letter On Leadership that called for a conservative Speaker:

(6) The Dallas Tea Party blog has a lot of information on the Speaker’s Race, and brought out information that made it clear that Speaker Straus had put liberals and moderates, not conservatives, in control in 2009, and that Rep Paxton is the clear and consistent conservative, compared both with Chisum and Straus:

(7) On Nov 30, State Rep Van Taylor endorsed Ken Paxton for Speaker. This brings the number of newly elected ‘freshmen’ State Reps endorsing Paxton publicly to 9: James White, Erwin Cain, Cindy Burkett, Bill Zedler, Charles Perry, Jim Landtroop, Kenneth Sheets, and David Simpson are also on the Paxton endorsement list.

(8) On Nov 17, Governor Mike Huckabee and HUCK PAC has endorsed Ken Paxton for Speaker of the Texas House (Huckabee is on the Flowchart of Item 1):

(9) On Nov 15, FreedomWorks / Dick Armey Oppose Speaker Straus, Announce Support for Paxton (Armey is on the Flowchart of Item 1):

(10) On November 10, 2010 Rep Brian Hughes withdraws his pledge to Straus, says that House leadership is trying to oust Reps Flynn and Cain and told Hughes that if he did not go along (i.e. support Straus) he would fall victim to similar retribution. Chairman Hopson’s General Investigating and Ethics Committee investigates the allegations and dismisses them after taking sworn testimony from Hughes and unsworn testimony from Rep Larry Phillips, who made the threats (Hughes and Hopson are on the Flowchart of Item 1):
http://bit.ly/fAmfiN , http://bit.ly/gGnZgX and http://bit.ly/hOTWMf

(11) Straus Chairman Shuts Out Public From Speaker Race “Threats” Information at so-called “Public Hearing”—related to Item 10 above: http://bit.ly/gCgSUT

(12) Video: “The Battle for the Texas House”, http://j.mp/fPGdC2. In this video David Barton sums up what “we the people” seem to be saying—that Texans want a conservative Speaker! It lays out the history and the issues clearly and completely.

(13) Nov 8, Rep Leo Berman, first Rep to file as opposition candidate to Joe Straus (June 23, 2010—see http://bit.ly/i8OkIj and http://bit.ly/eusjYM ) wrote an Open Letter to Joe Straus, full of enlightening information:
http://bit.ly/gFJSY8 and http://ainn.ly/gSTUyL

(14) Nov 15, Erick Erickson (of RedState) blogs that Ken Paxton should be Speaker of the Texas House, bringing the power of Redstate and national conservative activist attention to this race: http://www.redstate.com/erick/


(15) Nov 19, Gun Owners of America endorse Ken Paxton for Speaker of the Texas House:

(16) On the other side, we have primarily one group that is the apologist for and promoter of Speaker Joe Straus—that is, Conservatives4JoeStraus:

(17) Higher Education Committee Chair, Dan Branch questioned the constitutionality of the proposal of a Republican Caucus picking a consensus candidate for Speaker, as mentioned in the Flowchart of Item 1:

(18) If you want to read what Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka is saying in his left-of-center BURKABLOG, you can follow the following link (you might need to use the blog’s search engine to find all the relevant posts):

November saw a great election, and a followup of strong statements from the vast majority of Texas conservative activists demanding a conservative Texas House Speaker. This lays down a marker for all the Republican members of the Texas House.  However, conservative activists should not underestimate the power of Speaker incumbency, and Straus has wielded the use of many carrots and sticks (some exposed in recent weeks) to keep ‘pledges’ on board. He doled out over a million dollars in the last election cycle to keep incumbents friendly to him.

This is a classic outsider versus insider battle, the outsiders need to keep the pressure up, find the influencers of the state Reps and get them to support a conservative Speaker. One thing will ensure Speaker Straus’ re-election – if he can avoid a GOP caucus vote.  Without a GOP caucus vote, Straus only needs 25 Republicans, or a fourth of the caucus, and he has at least 20 votes just from the commitee chairs and supporters alone. But a caucus win would require 50 Republican caucus votes. The priority should be to demand a Republican caucus vote, and get all Texas State Reps to agree to it. I further explain why the caucus vote is needed and important over here:


To have a productive session, the House Speaker must be supported by the majority of the House Republican caucus. To ensure this, the Republican House members should caucus and decide on a nominee for House Speaker. It will be dysfunctional to have a House speaker supported by 50 Democrats but opposed by 70 Republicans. The end result of that may be a repeat of what happened in 2009, when conservative bills that would have passed in a fair floor vote never got the chance to go forward. The further necessity of a Republican caucus is to keep the matter “in the family” of Republicans in the Statehouse, in order to maintain party unity on the House floor. An intra-party fight on the House floor might give the rump Democrat minority excessive leverage and worsen any intraparty split.

The Texas Speaker will be decided on January 11, so there is not much time left to make a difference and get more State Reps on board for Rep Ken Paxton. Now is the time to keep the momentum going through December. 51 declared opponents to Straus and a caucus process and it will be ‘game over’. There are 21 declared opponents now. 30 to go. Direct contact with State Representatives is the best way to go, and they should all be encouraged both to support Paxton for Speaker and to support the caucus process to select a consensus Republican choice for Speaker. This can be done and Texas can have a conservative Speaker, but it will be uphill and the outcome is not yet written. December action will make or break this effort.

“The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail. But hope remains, if friends stay true.”
– Elf Queen Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring

Updated from cross-posted article here: