State Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R–Angleton) told attendees at a press conference today that he had the votes to become the next Speaker of the House, having garnered 109 supporters in the Texas House, well past the 76 needed to take the gavel.
“The speaker race is over,” Bonnen told attendees, “and the Texas House is ready to go to work.”
Bonnen announced his candidacy for the speakership at the end of October and since then has amassed support from Republicans across the ideological spectrum.
In his remarks, Bonnen ruled out retribution against those members who had not yet pledged their support to his speaker candidacy, saying he was running to lead 149 members and whether their name was on the list or not was “unimportant.”
Though Bonnen’s remarks were brief with little opportunity for questions, he told attendees that, after speaking with members, his number one priority would be school finance.
“We stand ready to work with the governor and our friends and partners in the Senate, including the lieutenant governor,” Bonnen said
Over the past couple weeks, Republican State Reps. John Zerwas (Richmond), Phil King (Weatherford), Four Price (Amarillo), and Tan Parker (Flower Mound) all announced they were leaving the race and, instead, endorsing Bonnen for the position.
State Rep. Drew Darby (R–San Angelo), who was attempting to assemble a coalition of Democrats and Republicans to thwart the GOP caucus’ choice for speaker, dropped out of the race shortly before Bonnen’s press conference, leaving State Rep. Travis Clardy (R–Nacogdoches) as the only other candidate still in the race.
Clardy may still be attempting to assemble a coalition, but that path appears to be narrowing.
For years considered a possible successor to Speaker Joe Straus, who announced his retirement from the Legislature last year, Bonnen most recently chaired the committee on Ways and Means and served as Speaker Pro Tem. Bonnen has served in the Texas House since 1997.