On the heels of House Speaker Joe Straus’ abrupt announcement that he will not seek re-election to the Texas House, his lead hatchet-man has said he’s heading for the exit as well.
On Tuesday, House State Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Cook (R–Corsicana) announced that he will not be seeking re-election to House District 8. Cook was facing a strong challenge from conservative businessman Thomas McNutt, whose family owns the Collin Street Bakery. McNutt is running again after he came incredibly close to unseating Cook in the last Republican primary.
With Cook out, Thomas McNutt will be considered the likely favorite to win the race in House District 8.
“It is an honor to represent the families of Anderson, Freestone, Hill, and Navarro Counties in the Texas House of Representatives. However, I will not seek a 9th term in the upcoming March 2018 Republican primary for the Texas House of Representatives. Instead, I will pursue other opportunities to serve our great state,” said Cook in a statement. “Additionally, I will work hard throughout the remaining 14 months of my current term in serving my district, as Chairman of the Texas House State Affairs Committee, and as Chairman of the newly appointed Texas House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness.”
Cook has not said what the “other opportunities” will be.
Cook’s decision to quit the legislature should be cause for celebration for conservatives who have seen their initiatives and reforms waylaid, diluted, and killed by Cook ever since he came to power as part of the Democrat-led coup that installed Straus.
In just the last session, Cook worked to scuttle Gov. Greg Abbott’s ethics legislation, killed the Texas Privacy Act, and prevented legislation preventing the automatic collection of labor union dues from coming to the floor. And just last week, Cook told reporters that legislation repealing the state’s policy of awarding in-state tuition to illegal immigrants would “never pass as long as he is in the House.”
With Straus’ regime effectively crumbling, the only questions that remain are how many more of his allies will jump off the sinking ship, and what kind of leadership the Texas House will turn to in 2019.
Celebrations, however, should be short. The grassroots must ensure they retire more of Straus and Cook’s sycophants in the upcoming primary if they wish to avoid a continuation of the current regime.