Texas House Speaker Joe Straus will not seek reelection as Speaker, or to his House seat.
In an email statement to supporters Wednesday morning, Straus wrote: “I believe that in a representative democracy, those who serve in public office should do so for a time, not for a lifetime. And so I want you to know that my family and I have decided that I will not run for re-election next year. My time as a state representative and as Speaker will end at the conclusion of my current term.”
Mike Ward, Austin bureau chief for the Houston Chronicle says Straus’ announcement is big news for Texas Republicans, both moderate and conservative.
“There’s been a lot of buzz since the first of the year about the fact that he’s considering retiring,” Ward says. “A lot of it was driven by the fact that he’s gone public with a lot of his criticisms of the Senate and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, which was very un-Straus-like.”
Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) a top Straus lieutenant is also stepping down.
“I think we’re seeing a major turnover in House leadership. It’s been quite some time since something this significant in the House has happened.”
Ward says the tone of Straus’ announcement leaves the door open for a future role in Texas politics.
“That’s given rise to speculation among the political folks in Austin – probably with no information – that he’s going to run for some statewide office,” Ward says.
If Straus does enter a statewide race, Ward says it will set up another battle between hard-line conservatives and the more mainstream wing of the state GOP.
“Straus has been the standard-bearer for the moderate wing of the Republican Party,” Ward says, “and those are the folks right now that are wondering ‘what’s next? What’s left? What’s up?’”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.