Last night’s election was a sobering reminder of just how far astray our nation has wandered from the path of liberty. Texans must remain cheerful and work even harder, because the nation needs a brightly shining Lone Star State now more than ever. Such success demands real leadership in the Texas House.
Meanwhile, incumbent Speaker Joe Straus’ team is apparently asking legislators to violate the GOP platform less than 24 hours after the election ended.
In last night’s election, Texans demonstrated again a commitment to bold leadership and conservative reforms. From the top of the ticket down, Texans overwhelmingly selected men and women who presented bold visions for a stronger Texas.
As Sam Houston once wrote, “Texas is the finest portion of the globe that has blessed my vision.” For more than a decade, entrepreneurs have been saying the same thing, moving here by the thousands every week. Texas has become a refuge within the nation for those fleeing high taxes, burdensome regulations and oppressive government.
But we cannot take for granted that we’ll continue to do so. House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) said he wants to find new revenues to fill state coffers, rather than reduce the size of government. One of his closest allies, retiring GOP State Rep. Burt Solomons, was on Twitter this morning bemoaning the influence of conservatives, seemingly upset that Texas didn’t crater with the rest of the country.
When given the chance, Texans evicted Mr. Straus’ closest allies from office. He has lost a record number of committee chairs – either through defeat, or retirements ahead of defeats. The closer a legislator stood to Joe Straus, the more likely they were to lose. Yet, remarkably, some legislators are still quietly thinking about standing with him. Why? It’s a short-sighted choice.
They campaigned as conservatives, but now – when Texas must push boldly for reform—they want to handicap themselves and their constituents by supporting a moderate whose “leadership” has been defined by opposing the very reforms their constituents most desire!
There is a choice. State Rep. Bryan Hughes, a Republican from Mineola, has a proven track record as a conservative and is a declared candidate for speaker. Mr. Hughes has top ratings from all the conservative groups—social and fiscal—and (unlike Straus) supports the Texas Budget Compact. While Mr. Straus used redistricting to punish conservatives, it was Mr. Hughes who publicly warned what the Straus Team was planning.
On policy, Mr. Straus and his committee chairs refused to allow popular reforms—like spending limits—out of committee, much less to the floor for a vote.
Such things would change under Mr. Hughes. For as well respected as he is by the conservative grassroots, within the Legislature he is known for promoting civility and comity. These are two things sorely lacking from Straus’ employees and closest advisers.
For these reasons, I’m supporting Bryan Hughes as our next House Speaker. More than 100 grassroots leaders have already endorsed his candidacy, as well as groups like FreedomWorks and the Young Conservatives of Texas.
Over the next several weeks, newly elected (and re-elected) legislators will be deciding how to proceed. They need to hear from their constituents, whether they want to or not. Some will do their very best to plug their ears.
But for the GOP legislators (95 of the 150 House members), their party’s platform requires them to have town hall meetings on leadership. Reports are surfacing today that the Straus team is calling legislators asking them to pledge support to Straus now, subverting their party’s platform before the session even begins!
The legislative leadership must equally respect the reforms demanded by citizens, and the integrity of the people’s representatives. The current leadership has neither; Hughes provides both.
Texas is standing stronger than the other states, but we must stand even taller. Texas can—and will—do better!