Republicans will retain their fifteen-year hold on the Texas Legislature, but Texans are still waiting for lawmakers to deliver on a bevy of conservative reforms. Those efforts have been stymied by establishment Republicans like former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and, in recent years, House Speaker Joe Straus.
But as the dust settles from the election, GOP loyalists in the Lone Star State will need to do some serious soul searching.
While Trump picked up some traditionally blue states, like Wisconsin, the state GOP’s victory effort – led by Party Chairman Tom Mechler and Land Commissioner George P. Bush – saw the president-elect under-perform in Texas.
The only Republicans to lose in the Texas Legislature were allies of Straus, like State Rep. Kenneth Sheets of Dallas, who rated poorly on the Fiscal Responsibility Index and other conservative report cards. Once a conservative, Sheets sold out to the establishment and stopped representing taxpayers at home.
When the choice is between Republicans who vote like Democrats, and actual Democrats, voters end up choosing the Democrat. Sheets turned his back on conservatives, so they apparently turned their backs on him.
Republicans will enter the 2017 legislative session with 95 of 150 seats, so they will still have no excuses for not passing the marque reforms that they have denied their conservative base under Speaker Straus.
From ending sanctuary city policies to providing meaningful property tax reform, the Texas House coalition leadership has stood in the way. With an election season defined by voters repudiating the ruling elite, the Texas House leadership looks more out of touch than ever before.