DALLAS, Texas — A Texas State Representative, Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake), shocked Tea Party activists in Fort Worth Monday night, November 10, when he declared he would be supporting the current Speaker of the Texas House, Joe Straus, instead of the Tea Party favorite son, State Representative ScottTurner (R-Rockwall). The announcement came during the NE Tarrant Tea Party final meeting of 2014 as a pre-84th Texas legislative session panel discussion on the upcoming race for the Speakership in the Texas House.
Many conservatives and Tea Party leaders across Texas are rallying around Turner. However, in front of over 200 Tarrant County constituents, District 98 Capriglioneshocked everyone when he announced he would not support Turner in his bid for the Speaker’s role but would support incumbent Joe Straus (R-SanAntonio). Capriglione’s announcement rocked the room, with deafening silence. He explained, “There is no race for Speaker for Scott Turner.”
Capriglione came out sharply by stating “Turner didn’t have the numbers,” meaning the number of votes to be a viable contender against Straus in the upcoming race for Speaker of the House.
The others on the panel — Reps. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth ), Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), and representative elect Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) — disagreed.
Krause spoke up and said he thought Capriglione was wrong about support for Turner. He said, “I think Turner has more support. He’s a unique leader and would make a tremendous speaker of the house.
Stickland admonished Capriglione. “It is a dangerous place to be if we vote based on what we think will be the outcome.”
Capriglione continued to insist “over 80 percent of representatives don’t support Turner.” Although he called Turner a friend and a brother, “we’ve brokenbread together,” he added, “he just doesn’t have the depth on policy.”
Additionally, State Rep. Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) commented on Turner’s character, calling Turner, “one of the most godly people I’ve ever met.” ButCapriglione remained steadfast in his support for Straus, the current Speaker of the House, who has come under fire for his moderate leanings.
In 2014, Forbes Magazine named Straus “The Harry Reid of Texas.”
Breitbart Texas’ contributor Michael Quinn Sullivan previously outlined the issues Texas tea party groups disagree with Straus over. He wrote, “Bills generally viewed as conservative priorities, including constitutional amendments to cap spending, expanded school choice, bans on welfare for illegal aliens and on-campus carry, have languished in committee one session after another.”
Zedler also expressed concerns that Straus did not act upon conservative priorities like protecting religious liberties and American laws for American courts. He said, “Under Joe Straus, the conservative agenda will not be furthered.”
He posed, “What makes you think with Joe Straus as speaker again anything is going to change?,” adding “We can’t wait till doomsday.”
Capriglione continued to defend his position, “the job of the speaker is to understand policy,” insinuating his previous stance that Turner was not up to the task. This did not sit well with the panel or the Tarrant County residents who overwhelmingly supported Turner. Many wore Team Turner t-shirts.
Krause interjected, “in the next two months , we will keep talking to Gio to bring him along.” He quipped “One person’s right [on this] and oneperson’s named Gio.”
Tea Party attendees laughed at Krause’s comment. It was a much needed tension-breaker in the room. This Tea Party division came on the heels of a statewide Republican sweep in the November elections that brought several Tea Party leaders into new positions of power in Texas state government. In Capriglione’s own backyard, grassroots conservative Konni Burton won state Senate District 10 back from Wendy Davis and Tinderholt was just elected as a freshman to the Texas House.
Tarrant County Tea Partiers were not as kind to Capriglione. A long line of Tarrant County residents assembled for the hour-plus Q&A in which he sat with his arms crossed, defending his position. One woman asked if his appointment by Straus to the Lottery Committee this summer influenced his decision.
In July, he was appointed to a committee that was created in 2013 by the passage of House Bill 2197. The committee included five members of theHouse and five members of the Texas Senate.
Capriglione said “no”.
The interchange brought into question, the will of the people versus the elected official from District 98. One woman said to Capriglione, “You are supposed to represent your constituents and they want Scott Turner.”
One Tarrant County constituent walked out, expressing his disappointment with Capriglione. He was one of several Tarrant County residents whoasked Capriglione questions. Another asked, “if your constituents ask you to vote for Turner, would you?”
Capriglione repeated, “I don’t think he [Turner] has the experience and the qualifications.”
Another resident, Joel Starnes started off his question to Capriglione, “The biggest problem we have is Straus.”
Grassroots activist and Tarrant County resident Michael Smith, who campaigned for Capriglione in his race, said to the representative, “I don’t know where you stand. Two years ago you ran against Joe Straus. I remember it specifically. You ran on pro-life and limited government. But what happened? To vote for Joe Straus undermines everything we are about.”
Despite the heated Q&A session that ran long, Stickland reminded attendees that if Straus wins, “we can’t go home if it doesn’t go our way.”
After the meeting, Breitbart Texas approached Capriglione for further comments, he declined.
Instead, Breitbart Texas spoke to Krause. He said in response to Capriglione’s announcement, “It’s been very difficult for us to deal with this and not know where some of the people stand. It just re-emphasizes the importance of us just going down there and taking a vote. The people deserve to know where we stand on issues. That’s what this next session’s all about for me — going on the record.”
Earlier, Zedler stated, “If you want to join the war on conservatives, join Joe Straus. I’m voting for Scott Turner.”
Other Tarrant County state representatives Stephanie Klick and Craig Goldman were not present for the meeting.
Social media is lit up with reaction to Capriglione’s endorsement of Straus for Speaker. On the Facebook page of the North Texas Tea Party, leadersposted “Let’s make this simple for the members of the Texas House: ANY STATE REPRESENTATIVE WHO VOTES FOR JOE STRAUS AGAINST SCOTT TURNER WILL BE PRECLUDED FROM GAINING NTTP TEA APPROVAL. ANYONE WHO VOTES TO NOT HAVE ANY OPEN RECORDED VOTE ON THIS ISSUE WILL ALSO BE PRECLUDED.”
Breitbart Texas attempted to reach out to Straus’ office for comment, but have not received a reply as of press time.
Follow Merrill Hope, an original member of the Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom
Breitbart Texas Senior Political News Contributor Bob Price contributed to this article. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX