Pro­fes­sor: Straus has back­ing of cau­cus


Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - Con­tin­ued from A The speaker of the House pre­sides over the 150-mem­ber cham­ber and de­cides who will chair House com­mit­tees. Con­tact Tim Ea­ton at 4453631.

lead­er­ship de­ci­sion, stifles rep­re­sen­ta­tive government.”

The speaker of the House pre­sides over the 150-mem­ber cham­ber and de­cides who will chair House com­mit­tees. The speaker also refers bills to com­mit­tee and con­trols de­bate on the House floor. The po­si­tion is cho­sen by the mem­bers on the first day of the leg­isla­tive ses­sion, which is Jan. 8.

Erin Daly, a spokes­woman for Straus, said in a state­ment that “Speaker Straus en­joys sup­port from a ma­jor­ity of Repub­li­cans and Democrats in the House, and rather than cam­paign­ing for the po­si­tion, he is fo­cused on lead­ing the House as we pre­pare for ses­sion.”

Simp­son, a Repub­li­can from Longview who has served only one term, didn’t re­turn calls Mon­day, but he said in his state­ment that he in­tends “to change the spirit of our Leg­is­la­ture and put the prin­ci­ples of lib­erty and open government above the pol­i­tics of in­tim­i­da­tion.”

In the past, Simp­son blamed Straus for un­justly ap­ply­ing the House rules by ad­journ­ing the House for a lack of a quo­rum in an ef­fort to de­rail his mea­sure to out­law ag­gres­sive pat-downs by se­cu­rity per­son­nel at air­ports and other places.

Simp­son said in his state­ment that a num­ber of House mem­bers have of­fered their sup­port for him, but he didn’t in­clude any names. Rep. Bryan Hughes, a Repub­li­can from Mi­ne­ola who dropped his can­di­dacy Mon­day, came out in sup­port of Simp­son.

Rep. Trey Martinez Fis­cher, D-San An­to­nio, has been crit­i­cal of Straus since last ses­sion. Like Simp­son, Martinez Fis­cher slammed Straus over re­dis­trict­ing — though they fired at him from dif­fer­ent an­gles. Simp­son said the re­dis­trict­ing process in 2011 was not done prop­erly, while Martinez Fis­cher said the speaker presided over a leg­isla­tive body that ap­proved maps that dis­crim­i­nated against mi­nor­ity vot­ers.

Stress­ing that he was speak­ing for him­self, Martinez Fis­cher said Straus worked fairly with Democrats in 2009. But he added that in 2011, Straus showed he was less in­ter­ested in work­ing with Democrats than in par­ti­san­ship and pro­mot­ing wedge is­sues such as sanc­tu­ary cities leg­is­la­tion, a bill call­ing for sono­grams be­fore an abor­tion, and re­duc­ing spend­ing on pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and pub­lic health.

“It was a ses­sion of over­reach,” Martinez Fis­cher said

Cal Jill­son, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at South­ern Methodist Univer­sity, said Martinez Fis­cher’s crit­i­cism of Straus likely could bol­ster the speaker’s chances for re­elec­tion. Jill­son called the Demo­crat’s de­nun­ci­a­tion the “best thing to hap­pen to Joe Straus within his cau­cus.”

Jill­son gave Simp­son long odds in his ef­fort.

“The Repub­li­can cau­cus is more com­fort­able with Straus than it was two years ago,” Jill­son said. “I think that two years ago, most Repub­li­cans were sort of awestruck by the force of the tea party and their or­ga­nized spokes­men.” But the tea party wave has re­ceded since 2010, Jill­son said, and likely will con­tinue to do so.

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