Speaker gears up for fight over seat

Both sides are bet­ter pre­pared for lead­er­ship vote than in 2011.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - Bytim Ea­ton teaton@states­man.com Speaker

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.

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