Joe Straus is now officially the lamest of ducks in Texas politics and government. The midterm election is over. The speaker of the Texas House didn’t run for re-election and voters in his San Antonio House district have selected a successor.
That doesn’t mean he is keeping quiet. He has offered Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the garrulous politician from Houston, some cogent advice: Patrick should “listen more and talk less” during next year’s Texas legislative session.
Patrick, not surprisingly, is having none of it. He responded in an interview with the Texas Tribune: “(Straus) decided he wanted to continue to poke a finger in the eye of Greg Abbott, the president, myself and conservatives as he goes out the door and I find that disappointing. I wish him the best and I thank him for his public service, but at the end of the day, it’s clear he’s not much of a conservative — and it’s beginning to look like he’s not much of a Republican.”
I suppose if Patrick’s view of a true Republican rests with some of the harsh, nutty notions that came out of the Texas Senate this past year, then perhaps he’s right about Straus. It sounds to me that Patrick is still miffed that Straus killed the Bathroom Bill that the Senate — over which Patrick presides — sent to the House. The Bathroom Bill required individuals to use public restrooms that comported with the gender assigned to them on their birth certificate. .
It clearly was a discriminatory measure aimed at transgender individuals. Straus called it a non-starter, along with police chiefs and other law enforcement officials across Texas.
Straus made sure the bill would die in a special legislative session during the summer of 2017. He said it was virtually unenforceable; he said it would harm businesses in Texas. He wanted no part of it.
The soon-to-be-former speaker is a reasonable man. He is as much of a Republican as Patrick, without the stridency that Patrick brings to his high-profile position.
To be candid, I’ll miss Straus’s leadership as the Man of the Texas House. As for Patrick, he ought to take Straus’s advice and listen more and talk less … a lot less.