UPDATE: Since publication, numerous other House offices have contacted Texas Scorecard saying they had also been notified Speaker Straus was canceling the party. State Rep. Charlie Geren tweeted “a Christmas party for #txlege members, children & grandchildren has already been planned for Saturday, December 1.” The Speaker’s office has not commented on their involvement.
Capitol sources are reporting that disgraced, soon-to-be-former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has cancelled the Texas House Christmas party, an annual event in which legislators and their families are invited to Austin to hang ornaments, take pictures with Santa, and celebrate the Christmas season.
While citizens should understandably take little pity on the politicians’ party being cancelled, the cancellation is notable due to a far more important event scheduled at the same time: the Texas House Republican Caucus meeting where members could presumably vote for a unified Speaker of the House candidate.
According to the caucus’ new bylaws, “The selection of the Endorsed Speaker Candidate shall take place during the month of December during every even numbered year.”
Because the House Christmas party attracts many legislators down to Austin, the caucus meeting was reported to be scheduled for the same weekend in order to maximize attendance.
Straus’ reported cancellation of the festivities is leading some to speculate if the move is motivated by a desire to stifle turnout at the caucus vote for speaker, a creation believed to be a driving factor in his decision to retire from the legislature. Straus was first elected to the position by Democrats joining a minority of Republicans in giving him the gavel.
Caucus rules require a simple majority of members present to constitute a quorum and allow a vote to take place.
Texas Scorecard reached out to Straus’ office, but has not received comment. This article will be updated should a response be received.