The race for Speaker of the Texas House has an interesting new entry as of this morning. Dallas Democrat State Rep. Eric Johnson announced this morning that he had filed to take the gavel.
Johnson is the fourth candidate to officially enter the race, following Republican State Reps. Phil King (Weatherford), John Zerwas (Richmond), and Tan Parker (Flower Mound). Johnson is notably the only Democrat to enter the race.
Last year, in a campaign spearheaded by the Texas Freedom Caucus, the House Republican Caucus changed its bylaws to create a process to nominate a unified speaker candidate in caucus. Shortly after the change was made, Speaker Joe Straus decided to retire with many attributing his departure to the new process.
While the process is intended to produce a more conservative Speaker, the caucus vote is non-binding and, ultimately, a candidate must receive 76 votes on the floor.
Johnson’s entrance into the race could be an early sign that some liberal Republicans will be willing to make a deal with a Democrat speaker candidate rather than support the Republican candidate if they deem them too conservative.
Democrats currently make up a minority in the Texas House, holding 55 of the 150 legislative seats.
Legislators will vote for the next Speaker when they reconvene in January next year.