Speaker gears up for fight over seat
Both sides are better prepared for leadership vote than in 2011.
A little more than two years ago, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus was enduring crowds of conservative voters who lined Capitol corridors loudly calling for his removal as the chamber’s leader.
The right-wing activists had converged upon Austin and targeted House members who sided with the speaker and demanded they vote for more conservative leadership in either Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, or Rep. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney. It was a tough time for Straus, a San Antonio Republican who was first elected speaker in 2009.
“He wasn’t locked in as speaker last time,” said Bill Miller, an Austin lobbyist and veteran of speakers’ races.
Activists might not be descending on the Capitol right now, but Straus is once again hearing from the same ultraconservatives who wanted him out of the leadership role. And in a demonstration that the ideological split in the GOP is as strong as ever, Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, has become the current favorite of many conservative activists and groups.
Hughes, a strict abortion opponent who is widely liked among House members, has pledged to take his fight all the way to the House floor, where members will be given a choice between him and Straus when the Legislature convenes Jan. 8.
But this speaker’s race won’t look like the last one, people on both sides of the issue said.