More Texas House Republicans Choose NARAL-Favored Candidate for Speaker

More Texas House Republicans Choose NARAL-Favored Candidate for Speaker

AUSTIN, Texas — Ten more Texas House Republicans added their names to the list of Members who are endorsing Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) for re-election as Speaker in an email sent to Breitbart Texas on Thursday afternoon. As Breitbart Texas has reported, pro-life advocates have concerns about Straus’ leadership of the House, and question whether, once again, the 2015 Legislative Session will lead to frustration as pro-life bills fail to be advanced to the floor for a debate and vote.

While Straus’ challenger, Scott Turner (R-Rockwall), received a greater-than-perfect grade as well as the endorsement from Texas Right to Life, Straus has publicly been praised and received favorable scores from pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League). As Breitbart Texas reported, Straus has also been criticized for failing to ensure that pro-life bills were able to reach the floor last session, and for his role in the scheduling of HB 2 late in a special session, thereby enabling Democrat State Senator Wendy Davis’ infamous filibuster to launch her campaign for Governor.

Thursday’s email is the latest in a series of carefully choreographed endorsements, as groups of Representatives have released statements with very similar language announcing their support for Straus  at regular intervals over the past week. This list of names — Representatives Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), Sarah Davis (R-Houston), Charlie Geren (R-River Oaks), Todd Hunter (R-Portland), Jim Keffer (R-Eastland), John Kuempel (R-Seguin), Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio), J.D. Sheffield (R- Gatesville), Jason Villalba (R-Dallas), and John Zerwas (R-Katy) — yields no surprises for followers of Texas politics, and contains many of Straus’ known allies and most vocal defenders. 

Davis is a known as a pro-choice moderate Republican, and several others on this list hold powerful committee chairs that exert significant control over the agenda and process of the Texas House. The Representatives in this group who are not yet Committee chairs will enter the next Legislative Session with enough seniority that they would be likely candidates to be appointed by Straus to one of these influential positions.

Cook chairs the State Affairs Committee, which covers highly important matters relating to regulation of state government, utilities, telecommunications, and other significant topics. Geren chairs the House Administration Committee, which has power over issues like office space assignments for Members, witness appearances before committees, broadcasts of House proceedings, and media access. Keffer chairs the Energy Resources Committee, a highly sought after position considering its influence on the Texas economy. Zerwas chairs two committees, one that oversee ethics investigations for the House and one of the five Appropriations committees. Hunter chairs the critically important Calendars Committee, which stands as the final hurdle a bill must overcome before proceeding to the floor for a debate and vote. Davis, Geren, Cook, Kuempel are also on the Calendars Committee, as are Button, Crownover, Frullo, and Miller, Representatives who endorsed Straus earlier this week.

Villalba in particular has been very active on Twitter, sharing his support for Straus and getting into debates with grassroots activists who support Turner:

Villalba has also posted the endorsements from his fellow Representatives as they have been released, periodically mentioning that more endorsements were on the way, promising that it was just the “tip of the iceberg” and there would be “more to follow,” leading credence to the assumption many have made that these endorsements are being carefully coordinated by Straus and his allies:

The official vote for Speaker will be on January 13, 2015, after the new Representatives-elect are sworn into office. Straus needs a simple majority of the 150 House Members to secure re-election, or 76 votes. With the more than 50 Republicans who have publicly endorsed him so far this month, and his expected support from Democrats who are in the minority and prefer Straus over a more conservative Speaker, Straus seems likely to cruise to re-election, with more Republican votes than he has ever received before. 

In many of the endorsement statements, the Representatives praised Straus for letting Members “vote their district” and bragged about “conservative” accomplishments of the House under his leadership. Supporters of pro-life causes will be keeping a careful watch to see if these Republican members — many of whom ran for office as staunchly pro-life — will truly be able to advance pro-life bills through the committees, past the powerful Calendar Committee dominated by Straus allies, and actually bring them to the floor for a vote.

Current list of Representatives and Representatives-elect who have endorsed Straus for re-election as Speaker, in alphabetical order:

  • Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin)
  • Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Lampasas)
  • Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia)
  • Cindy Burkett (R-Garland)
  • Angie Chen Button (R-Richardson)
  • Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake)
  • Travis Clardy (R-Jacksonville)
  • Byron Cook (R-Corsicana)
  • Myra Crownover (R-Lake Dallas)
  • Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park)
  • Drew Darby (R-San Angelo)
  • Sarah Davis (R-Houston)
  • Marsha Farney (R- Georgetown)
  • Dan Flynn (R-Canton)
  • James Frank (R-Wichita Falls)
  • John Frullo (R-Lubbock)
  • Rick Galindo (R-San Antonio)
  • Charlie Geren (R-River Oaks)
  • Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock)
  • Todd Hunter (R-Portland)
  • Jason Issac (R-Dripping Springs)
  • Kyle Kacal (R-Hillister)
  • Jim Keffer (R-Eastland)
  • Ken King (R-Pampa)
  • Phil King (R-Weatherford)
  • Susan King (R-Abilene)
  • Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Eagle Lake)
  • Linda Koop (R-Dallas)
  • John Kuempel (R-Seguin)
  • Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio)
  • Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker)
  • J.M. Lozano (R-Kingsville)
  • Doug Miller (New Braunfels)
  • Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas)
  • Geanie W. Morrison (R-Victoria)
  • John Otto (R-Dayton)
  • Chris Paddie (R-Marshall)
  • Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound)
  • Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont)
  • Larry Phillips (R-Sherman)
  • Four Price (R-Amarillo)
  • John Raney (R-Bryan)
  • Kenneth Sheets (R-Dallas)
  • J.D. Sheffield (R- Gatesville)
  • Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton)
  • John Smithee (R-Amarillo) 
  • Drew Springer (R-Muenster)
  • Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) 
  • Jason Villalba (R-Dallas)
  • James White (R-Woodville)
  • Paul Workman (R-Austin)
  • John Zerwas (R-Katy)

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker