It’s time for the week that was in Texas politics with The Texas Tribune’s CEO and co-founder Evan Smith.
U.S. Rep. Will Hurd announced this week that he will not seek reelection in 2020. Smith says the decision means Hurd’s 23rd Congressional District will likely flip to a Democrat in 2020.
“There’s a larger message to take away,” Smith says. “The disappearance of someone like Will Hurd from the Republican Party begs the question of whether people who don’t march in line behind the president can survive. … Will Hurd was effectively a party of one.”
Smith says this potential problem for Republicans is compounded by the retirement of two other Texans Congressmen: Pete Olson and Mike Conaway.
“People are saying, ‘Well, this means Texas is going to turn blue,’” Smith says. “Really, what I think is going on here is Republicans are realizing how difficult it is going to be for them to take back the majority [of the House] in 2020.”
Smith also says speaker of the Texas House, Dennis Bonnen, is caught up in a scandal this week. A conservative activist has accused him of threatening to strip press credentials from a Texas political news outlet, among other things.
“[Bonnen] had a meeting with a conservative activist, not necessarily a friend of his – somebody who had opposed some of the things [Bonnen] had done in the House,” Smith says. “[He] made allegations that Bonnen had done some stuff that seemed unsavory. … Now there’s a tape circulating.”
This tape has not yet been released publicly, or vetted by any news organizations. Only some Republican members of the Texas House have heard it.
All this and more will likely be discussed during the upcoming Texas Tribune Festival, Sept. 26-28. Smith says the annual event will have more than 430 speakers.
“I look at the lineup and I think it’s like your Twitter feed came to life, your radio dial came to life, your cable box came to life,” Smith says. “If you’re a political junkie, there’s no better place to be than downtown Austin that weekend.”
Written by Hayden Baggett.