The 85th Texas Legislative Session is just weeks away, and as of yet, RagingElephantsRadio.com is unaware of any credible challengers being murmured to stop Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio RER0) from retaining the gavel for an unprecedented fifth term.
Since his 2009 election as Speaker through an inconceivable alliance of a mere 11 Republican and 65 Democrat state representatives, liberty movement (LM) activists in the know have been making futile efforts to see a true conservative dethrone Straus. There’s been no such blessing.
The 2015 session saw Straus’ most glorious victory for re-election as Speaker. He pulverized LM candidate State Rep. Scott Turner (R-Plano RER97) after Turner literally announced one full year before the election was to take place. Starting with the votes of his most ardent supporters, the House Democrats, session after session Straus only needs a tiny fraction of GOP state rep support to maintain his dubious and destructive grip on power.
RagingElephantsRadio’s CEO, Apostle Claver T. Kamau-Imani, has long believed Straus’ anonymity is one of his strongest political assets – not simply his brutal tactics of intimidation and Texas’ largest campaign bank account that affords him the ability to buy support. The voting population of Texas generally has no idea of the identity of the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.
Pastor Terry Holcomb, known as the “Open-Carry Preacher” and head of Texas Carry, ran against Straus-appointed committee chair, John Otto (R-Dayton RER52) in the 2014 Texas GOP primary.
Leading up to the 2015 legislative session, the usual passion was being displayed by Straus opponents as they repeated previous efforts to convince their state reps to vote for any Straus challenger – once again, that was Turner in 2015. In a November 2014 interview on the Golden Triangle’s Freedom 1350 radio, via telephone Holcomb said of his campaign experience, “I can tell you that most of the average primary voters have no idea who Joe Straus was. And, I’d venture to say that that’s still the same and hasn’t changed”
Program host Chip Darby had a differing response, “I disagree. I think a lot of people are becoming aware of Joe Straus and who he is. And, I’ll tell you this. I’m going to do my darndest to let people know who Joe Straus is and what he’s about.”
The in-studio guest for the radio interview that day was State Rep. James White (R-Woodville RER85). At the beginning of the 2011 session when Straus was running for his second term, White was one of only 15 GOP state reps that hit the “red light” on Straus meaning they were against his Speakership. The “15 Heroes” voted against Straus as Speaker although all of his opponents had withdrawn from the race. Quite an embarrassment for an egotist like King Joe and his henchmen and henchwomen who had worked so hard to vanquish all opposition.
White had made it known by the time of the 2014 radio interview that he intended to flip and become a Straus-ian to the dismay of his knowledgeable constituents — three of which were grilling him in the studio on the air. The essence of his argument? That the rank-and-file GOP primary voter has no idea of the identity of the Texas Speaker of the House.
“This is something I’ve thought about”, stated White during the interview. “Why raise emotions, raise expectations, deepen consternation over something when I’m looking at the numbers and see the way it’s going? Why have that between and among my constituents? Because at the end of the day, Chip, I represent one of the poorest counties.”
White’s argument was that to help his district, it isn’t wise to vote against the Speaker and tick him off when he’s known to be vindictive and defeating him is impossible. And, why vote against Straus, under all circumstances, when the vast majority of the voters in one’s district is completely unaware of who Straus is?
As far back as 2012, Apostle Claver and State Rep. White had several similar conversations in which White made the claim that internal polling from several political camps on the GOP side of the aisle had come to the same conclusion. Pledging to vote against Straus would make no difference whatsoever in the outcome of State House elections across the state. Yet, few outside of those close circles of associates within a campaign had ever seen such numbers to back up the claim that Texans are ignorant of Straus’ existence.
Now there are hard polling numbers to refer to. The polling comes from the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune polling shop and they conduct job approval surveys every few months with amazing consistency when polling on Straus. Although UT/TT polling accuracy has come into question in the distance past and very recent future, the results verify the claims of White and others who have desks under the Pink Dome.
The last poll conducted by UT/TT was concluded in October 2016. Speaker Joe Straus is +8 in overall job approval with 31% saying they strongly, or somewhat approve of his performance while 23% strongly, or somewhat disapprove of his performance. An eye-popping 56% of respondents registered an answer of neither approved, nor disapproved, or “didn’t know”.
But it’s the crosstabs that deliver the more-shocking results.
Of those that label themselves as strong Republicans, 39% strongly, or somewhat approve of Joe Straus’ job performance. Only 6% either strongly, or somewhat disapprove of Straus’ job performance. A whopping 55% registered an answer of neither approved, nor disapproved, or “didn’t know”.
Forget party labels. How about those that prefer to call themselves conservatives?
31% of respondents who consider themselves extremely conservative, strongly, or somewhat approve of Straus’ job performance. 15% either strongly, or somewhat disapprove of Straus’ job performance. 56% neither approved, nor disapproved, or “didn’t know” anything about Straus.
What about voters that consider themselves a part of the Tea Party in Texas? 27% of the most liberty-driven of the electorate have a strong, or somewhat strong approval of Straus’ job. Only 17% disapprove of his job. 52% didn’t have a clue.
This is the sentiment of liberty-driven Texans about a man that has been called the “Harry Reid of Texas” by Forbes magazine. Wait. Harry Reid is a Democrat.
With ignorance registering 50+% in all surveyed categories, the efforts of the most active and knowledgeable liberty-driven Texans fall on the deaf ears of their representatives. No matter how much pressure they attempt to apply on their reps to eject Straus from the Speaker’s chair, as long as Straus enjoys the luxury of anonymity state reps will have no compulsion to take the political risk of having to endure the wrath of “King Joe” – the man that can’t be beaten in Texas.
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