The liberal Republican speaker of the Texas House is hiring more democrats, prompting praise from the political left.
Last week, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus promoted Patricia Shipton, his “strategic legal advisor” and a former lobbyist, to Chief of Staff after Jesse Ancira announced his departure. Ancira is recorded as having a “Hard Democrat” voting history, having voted repeatedly in Democratic primaries. He joined Straus’s office as General Counsel in 2009 and was promoted to Chief of Staff in 2012.
To take Shipton’s place as his senior advisor, Straus hired former representative Allan Ritter, who retired from the House in 2013. Ritter served six terms as a Democrat before switching to the Republican Party in 2010. In both of his two terms under the Republican label Ritter earned an “F” on the Fiscal Responsibility Index.
Predictably, the hires earned praise from Democrats. State Rep. Ramon Romero (D–Fort Worth), applauded Straus’s personnel moves.
In a conversation online with a supporter, Romero praised Straus, saying he believed he did his “best to listen to our concerns as Democrats,” and asked rhetorically, “Would you of rather had Speaker Craddick, or one of the other 19?” – referring to the 19 Republican members who supported conservative Rep. Scott Turner (R–Frisco) for House Speaker.
Romero’s supporter agreed with him, saying: “I think what a lot of folks don’t realize is that this past session Strauss’s [sic] administration set us (dems) up to be successful.”
Straus’s own supporters predicted that he would obstruct conservative reforms before the 84th legislative session.
During a speech and debate in Dallas County, Rep. Jason Villalba (R–Dallas) predicted Straus would advance a “progressive” agenda. He would appoint his most “loyal” members to the House Calendar’s committee, where conservative legislation passed by “the most conservative Senate in state history” would “go to die.” Sure enough, Straus’s administration persistently obstructed conservative reforms passed out of the Senate.