AUSTIN, Texas — In an interview the day before Texas’ 84th Legislative Session kicks off, Speaker of the House Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) was less than enthusiastic about his expectations for working with Governor-elect Greg Abbott.
Speaking to Brian D. Sweany at Texas Monthly, Straus was asked about his relationship with Abbott:
[Brian D. Sweany]: A lot of people are wondering what kind of governor Greg Abbott will be. Did you work with him before the election?
[Joe Straus]: Sure, but not as close as we will going forward. The attorney general and I had very little interaction in our government positions, but we’ve had some productive discussions since the November elections, and I think he’s going to do a credible job.
BDS: I’m sorry, did you say “a credible job” or “an incredible job”?
JS: I believe Greg Abbott will do a credible job as governor.
Abbott was swept into office with a double digit margin over Wendy Davis, his Democrat opponent who captured national media attention for her filibuster of the abortion bill and gave rise to worries among conservatives that her candidacy would spark further support for the efforts of Battleground Texas. Accordingly, Abbott’s victory was cheered by Texas Republicans as not just winning that particular line on the ballot, but also an important win in the battle to keep Texas a red state.
Prior to becoming Texas’ next governor, Abbott served as the state’s Attorney General, and before that, was a Texas Supreme Court Justice. This kind of resume usually engenders higher praise than just “credible.” Sweany even gave Straus a second chance to correct or add to his comment, and “credible” is all the Speaker apparently wanted to say.
It is well-documented that Straus and Abbott’s predecessor, outgoing Governor Rick Perry, have had a contentious relationship, perhaps most notably over the ongoing scandal regarding admissions preferences at the University of Texas at Austin, and Straus’ opposition to Board of Regents member Wallace Hall, a Perry appointee. As Breitbart Texas reported, Perry’s chief of staff said that Straus’ chief of staff had contacted her to discuss asking for Hall’s resignation. Despite the insistence of Straus’ spokesman Jason Embry that the story was “untrue,” Perry himself confirmed that it had happened, in effect publicly rebuking the Speaker.
Straus’ apparent unwillingness to say anything better about Abbott than “will do a credible job as governor” raises the question about whether Straus and Abbott will have as combative a relationship as he has had with Perry lately, but only time will tell.
One final interesting tidbit from the Texas Monthly interview: Straus indicated that he would be likely to endorse Jeb Bush for President in 2016, saying, “I’ve been a longtime and loyal friend of the Bushes. I think very highly of Jeb, and I would support him enthusiastically. Provided it doesn’t hurt him.”
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.