Political drama at the Capitol continues as lawmakers make their final push for key pieces of legislation before the last day of the legislative session on May 27. But there’s another bit of drama involving one of the state’s more colorful lawmakers. Tarrant County Republican Rep. Jonathan Stickland announced this week that he’s leaving the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Stickland has been known to wear a lapel pin in the shape of a semiautomatic rifle, successfully pushed for the right to carry concealed handguns on Texas college campuses and was a high-profile proponent of last session’s so-called bathroom bill. But Stickland is the second lawmaker to leave the Freedom Caucus in recent months.
Juan Carlos Huerta, a political science professor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, says Stickland has to represent the conservative voters who elected him, but also work with other lawmakers to get legislation passed. He says those two objectives may conflict, which could explain why he’s leaving the caucus.
“I think that with the Democrats gaining seats [after] last session, it’s a little different in the House of Representatives,” Huerta says. “It could be frustration on the representative’s part; he wants to push things further. Perhaps some of his colleagues are trying to be more deal-making, more pragmatic.”
Huerta says Stickland’s departure from the Freedom Caucus doesn’t mean that it or the conservative movement in the legislature are in trouble.
“I wouldn’t expect the conservative caucus to go away in the legislature,” he says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.