Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio, has become the third (some would say second) most power politician in Texas. He has built a ruling coalition in the Texas House that includes almost all of Democrats, while he has limited the power of conservative Republicans.
Straus won the speakership the help of a less than a dozen Republican, but with almost 100% Democrats in 2010. Many GOP supporters are proud of Straus and his leadership style which includes a define deference to Democrats who got him elected, and their liberal policies. However, in a legislature where there 98 Republicans and 52 Democrats, is that inclusion necessary? Does Texas have a Republican House or “Straus House”, and is Straus more interested in retaining his power than in promoting a Republican, or conservative agenda that responds to the “will of the people”.
Another question that should be asked, is will Straus do anything to help Hispanic Republican candidates in south Texas? Hispanic Democrats, known in many areas as “La Palanca”, have dominated south Texas politics for generations. There is the constant claim by GOP leaders about their efforts to recruit and elect more Hispanics…however, if Straus was elected by Hispanic Democrats, will he lift a finger to help the GOP opponents of the Texas house Democrats who voted for him?
The political power of conservatives in Texas has grown since the inception of the Tea Party movement. The number of Republicans in the Texas House has grown from 75 Republicans in 2010, to 98 in 2014, thanks to the conservative grassroots movement. But Straus seems to have put the brakes on the “will of the people” in favor of being elected Speaker by the minority party.
George H. Rodriguez