[UPDATED AT END WITH NEW DROP-OUTS.] Another “F” has dropped out of the Texas House with the announcement that State Rep. Rob Orr (R-Burleson) won’t be seeking re-election. He joins a growing list of low-rated lawmakers opting to get out rather than face stiff re-election competition.
A conservative challenge to Mr. Orr had been discussed both in the district and in Austin for several weeks.
Conservative Texans are becoming increasingly impatient with go-along Republicans. More and more citizen-watchdogs have been shining bright lights on the wasteful mismanagement of the state’s finances in the House, and it’s making politicians nervously look for the nearest door.
As the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year, the legislature increased state spending 25 percent from 2011 to 2013. And that was a GOP-controlled legislature with a near-supermajority in both chambers!
Their record of profligate spending has—again, in the words of the WSJ—put Texas more in line with “Sacramento” in budgeting.
Politically, Mr. Orr fleeing the political field means the establishment lobby machine will have to spend money just defending yet another seat in what is a reliably conservative district. With the possible exception of Branch, the retiring Republicans hail from districts more conservative than the legislators who have been (mis)representing them.
All of these departures spell bad news for the anti-conservative bloc of Republicans led by Jim Keffer of Eastland and Charlie Geren of Fort Worth, who serve as Joe Straus’ chief henchmen. They are increasingly isolated in the legislative body they ostensibly control.
For example, Charlie Geren has been unable to bully around the Tarrant County delegation, where he stands out like a sore thumb in a commonsense-conservative county. Voters have driven out all of his moderate GOP allies, and put in place solid taxpayer champions Bill Zedler, Jonathan Stickland, Matt Krause, Stephanie Klick, Giovanni Capriglione and Craig Goldman.
These departures are especially embarrassing for Speaker Straus, whose committee chairmen—Pitts, Hilderbran, Davis, Branch—keep quitting rather than face challenges at home. (They’ve seen too many Straus-allied chairmen lose in House primaries to buck the odds.)
Just how many more GOP Fs will bomb out remains to be seen.
- State Rep. Tryon Lewis (R-Odessa) announced his retirement on 9/20/2013. His most recent rating? A low-F 45%.
- State Rep. Bill Callegari (R-Katy) announced his retirement on 9/23/2013. His most recent rating? A low-F 39%.
- Big-spending Sen. Tommy Williams, another “F” bomb, is leaving the Lege early. He is going to work in “government relations” at Texas A&M. (Insert Aggie joke here…)
- State Rep. Allan Ritter, D-turned-R Straus committee chairman, has announced he is won’t seek re-election to his east Texas seat.