Confirming speculation that had swirled for months, State Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo) officially filed for Texas House Speaker on Thursday morning.
Since joining the legislature in 2011, Price has served as a key lieutenant of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R–San Antonio). Straus has been the head of a governing coalition of Democrats and Republicans that has repeatedly thwarted conservative reforms advanced by conservative Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Price has long been considered a possible candidate for speaker and is rumored to be Straus’ preferred successor. The pair share longtime family connections and Price can be expected to maintain Straus’ coalition with the Democrats.
One of the most liberal Republicans in the Texas Legislature, Price earned a dismal 44 on the Fiscal Responsibility Index in the last session—only eight points higher than the best-performing Democrat. He also was one of only a handful of Republicans who worked with Democrats to weaken Gov. Greg Abbott’s landmark legislation to ban sanctuary cities.
House Democrats have said they would prefer to broker another deal similar to the one that propelled Straus into office in 2009.
One West Texas Democrat hopeful announced his support for Price almost a year ago:
For the record, Four Price or Drew Darby would make a great House Speaker.
— Drew Landry (@LandryForWestTX) October 30, 2017
Democrat enthusiasm over Price is well-placed and Republicans should be concerned that Price isn’t only out of touch with mainstream voters on fiscal matters and illegal immigration, but also on pro-life legislation. Most recently, as Straus’ appointee to chair the Public Health Committee, Price fought efforts to protect unborn Texans with diagnosed fetal abnormalities from abortion.
Price joins Republican candidates Phil King (Weatherford), John Zerwas (Simonton), Tan Parker (Flower Mound), Travis Clardy (Nacogdoches) and Drew Darby (San Angelo) as well as Democrat Eric Johnson (Dallas) in the quest for the gavel.
Of those candidates, only King, Parker, and now Price have agreed to abide by the rules of the Republican Caucus and support the Republican caucus nominee on the floor of the Texas House. Zerwas, Clardy, and Darby appear to be interviewing with the Democrats, hoping to solidify their support and capture the speaker’s office by reinstating Straus’ coalition of liberal Republicans and Democrats.
Austin insiders have claimed establishment forces had the numbers necessary to broker such a deal, a rumor contradicted by the rapid introduction of additional candidates in recent weeks. That point was made by State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), who took to Twitter to announce his opposition to Price’s candidacy.
— Jonathan Stickland (@RepStickland) September 6, 2018
The Republican caucus is scheduled to meet shortly after the November election. An individual must obtain the support of a supermajority (60 percent) of Republican representatives to be designated the caucus nominee.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this article stipulated that Price’s 44 on the Fiscal Responsibility Index was only four points higher than the best-performing Democrat. Price’s rating is in fact, eight points higher than El Paso Democrat State Rep. Joe Pickett.