The biggest argument in defense of Speaker Joe Straus is that under Tom Craddick, Republicans lost many seats in the Texas House, but under Straus we gained 22 seats. While this is true, I don’t think the two are related at all. Texans elected 22 new conservatives to the Texas House of Representatives because Texans were clearly yearning for smaller, smarter government!
Over the past four years, we’ve seen what liberals do when they get control of Congress, and Texans did not want that to happen to our own state legislature. After the 2008 elections, Joe Straus wasn’t even mentioned as a contender for the speakership until January 2009 when 65 Democrats teamed up with 11 Republicans (many of whom were defeated in 2010) to find a moderate alternative to Tom Craddick. At this point, Texas Democrats were extremely close to flipping the Texas House, but as usual, the far-left ruined it for themselves and Texans handed them a resounding defeat.
The electoral victory Texas Republicans were handed on November 2nd wasn’t because of Joe Straus—it was because we wanted our representatives to know how we feel on key issues. With the addition of 22 new conservative Republicans, I think it is pretty clear Texans were begging for conservative leadership.
To be honest, I’m not sure if the average Texas voter knew who Joe Straus was before this election and if they did, they definitely did not have him in mind when they went into the voting booth. Texans were worried about the looming budget deficit, far-left policies coming out of Washington, and keeping Texas #1 in job creation when they voted on November 2nd. Joe Straus was not some sort of “architect” of November 2nd. If anything, he has become more of a victim.
Speaker Straus may have done a good job at navigating the very closely divided 81st Legislature, but it didn’t seem like he really even tried to increase the Republican majority. If you look at his actions during the campaign season, you’ll see that he did less to help Republican challengers in competitive districts than other members of the legislature.
In reality, the argument that Straus “helped” elect 22 new Republicans is completely ridiculous, and I’m sure even Speaker Straus knows this. The massive Republican wave was due to reaction to an over-reaching federal government, and not a vote of confidence for moderate leadership. Voters made it clear that since the federal government has continued to over-step its boundaries, we need conservative leaders to help protect the opportunities that smaller, smarter government in Texas afford us.