On Jan. 8, 2019, the House side of the Texas Legislature will reconvene and take one of the most important votes of the session: selecting a speaker. Joe Straus, who’s been holding it down for the past 10 years, is not returning and apparently has had enough. San Antonio’s Straus was a moderate among conservatives. During the last session, he and his allies refused to advance some of the right wing’s favorite ideas.
Gov. Greg Abbott pushed back, promising house moderates that there would be a price to be paid for not towing his line. Peggy Fikac, Austin Bureau Chief for the San Antonio Express News, says Abbott attempted to create peace during primary week with a Facebook live event on Election Night and a news conference the same week. Fikac says he called for Republicans to come together and get ready for November.
The fight for the so-called “bathroom bill” strained Abbott’s relationship with some Republican lawmakers, and Fikac says tensions rose even further after a recent claim made by the Chair of House Select Committee of Economic Competitiveness Byron Cook.
“One of the Republicans in the House who helped to cause the death of the bathroom bill said that Gov. Abbott’s then chief of staff told him he didn’t ever really want it on this desk,” Fikac says. “That basically he wanted to be in favor of it publicly but when push came to shove didn’t want to deal with the possible ramifications if the legislature actually passed that measure.”
Fikac says capitol insiders weren’t surprised by the claim.
Looking ahead, some Republicans hope that Abbott can shift his leadership style. “What the House would like to see,” she says, “is more of a collegial ‘let’s figure these things out together.’”
Written by Elizabeth Ucles.