Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Joe Straus quits Texas House

The so-called sane Republicans -- as Charles Pierce said yesterday about Jeff Flake and Bob Corker -- are going to have to come up with a better response than just running away.  Harvey Kronberg crams as much into his executive summary of the past ten months as one can into two paragraphs.

Speaker Joe Straus today stunned even his closest colleagues with his announcement that he would not seek re-election to his seat in the House. This after polling in the field showed that even his weakest San Antonio precincts were solidly behind him. In addition, there was no possible math that did not have him re-elected to lead the House.

While his low opinion of the hysteria-based rhetoric of other statewide officials and the off the rails priorities of the special session (many but for his efforts) would have further made the recovery of the Gulf Coast even more protracted than it would otherwise be were barely camouflaged, one of the great stings had to be Governor Greg Abbott reassuring CEOs that Straus would kill the bathroom bill at the same time he was rallying pastors to sermonize on its behalf from the pulpit.

It sounds as if -- in a run-on sentence of massive proportions -- HK thinks the governor is going to have be the grown-up and stop pandering to the MAGA base of the TXGOP.  Harvey has lots more Austin connections than me, so I'm sure he has a basis for believing that.  But as AF One landed in Dallas this afternoon, the governor spun his wheels on the tarmac to get in the picture with Trump.

It's truly remarkable watching a crippled man play both sides of the Texas Republican Party's freak right wing against the middle, or the left, or whatever the soon-to-be former-Straus Caucus calls themselves ('moderate' just doesn't work for me).  One of these days his manipulation of the ignorant is going to blow up in his face.  That day is still a ways off.

As to the news: conservative watchers mostly screamed with glee, while Democrats either cried their eyes out or shat their drawers in unmitigated terror.  Let the parlor games begin.

-- Do I think Straus has plans to shoot his $10 million dollar wad on something besides, to quote former TDP chair Boyd Richie from 2006, "a few select Texas House races"?  All snark aside, I certainly hope so.  Surely Joe isn't slinking away into retirement just to be another million-dollar lobbyist, right?  Right?

Update: Tilove at the Statesman echoes Straus: "I don't think so."

-- Where does his top lieutenant, Byron Cook, who bailed out right behind the Speaker this morning, fit in to any of this?  The same cryptic 'look for other ways to serve Texas' line was in his resignation letter.

Chris Hooks got paid a little early this week.

John Zerwas, a moderate who once flirted with supporting Medicaid expansion, today announced his bid to (replace Straus as Speaker), and Chris Turner, the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, quickly signaled a willingness to deliver the caucus’ votes to the best possible contender. That would mean, hypothetically, that Zerwas will need some 15-25 Republican votes to clinch it in the way Straus once did. That seems very doable — particularly if Democrats are able to make real gains in the next general election, in what should be a favorable climate — but no one can say.

"No one can say."   Pfffft.  He'd know better than that (he means, of course, that early speculation about what might occur is as reliable as the Texas Tribune's polling) if he didn't have me muted on Twitter, the putz.

One thing we can say is that the legacy and self-described "very conservative Democrat" who is 'exploring' a run for governor got his news completely Bigfooted by the Speaker's sudden withdrawal today.  Too bad.  Maybe there's a spot for him somewhere on Joe Straus' independent ticket.


Gadfly said...

First, what? You still don't like CD Hooks? I still don't either.

And WTF with these Austin pundit types and calling any state Rethug a "moderate"?

Hmmm on the dual incommunicadoes. If Straus does run Indy for gov, then is Cook his Lite Gov compadre?


And, Charles Pierce lost "it," and me, long ago.

PDiddie said...

As with the Wrangle, the fact that I have disagreements with certain writers in a few areas does not preclude my linking to them. Pierce, Hooks, Kuffner, etc. are not clueless about everything, after all.

Regarding the definition of words, it's the same with the anti-choice crowd. They've been allowed to redefine terms without being challenged for so long that the lazy media, liberals, and neoliberals have simply given up and moved on.

Regarding Cook: thought I answered that with a Hooks-style response. If Straus thinks his statewide name recognition is low, I doubt whether Cook helps either man much electorally (although as lazy and ignorant as the small number of Texans who can be bothered to turn out and vote is, his common name helps greatly).

Gadfly said...

Oh, I'll link to people with whom I don't fully agree either, if nothing else, to make a point. Just saying I've seen you call him out on Twitter.

Agreed that Cook doesn't have high name recognition in general. But, if Straus is thinking in terms of big biz Texas as his base, should he run, a Cook rather than a splash name might work. I mean, those are the type of people WHO do generally turn out to vote, versus John Sharp's ideas in 2002.

Tilove has one good point at the end — straight-ticket voting is still in place for 2020.


More seriously, on big biz? One way to serve that wing of the GOP and keep a handle, or try to, on the GOP in general, would be as one of them lobbyist critters.