Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen should be toast.
The Angleton Republican, who took possession of the speaker’s gavel at the start of the 2019 Texas Legislature, has managed to accomplish a rare feat: He has destroyed the trust he built among his fellow Republicans by climbing into the proverbial sack with a right-wing zealot with whom he reportedly had serious differences of opinion. In the process, he has given up the names of at least 10 GOP legislators whom the zealot could target in the next election.
Hit the road, Mr. Speaker, before your colleagues boot you out at the start of the next Legislature.
The issue is a meeting among Bonnen, former Texas House GOP chair Dustin Burrows of Lubbock and aforementioned right-wing fanatic Michael Quinn Sullivan, who leads Empower Texans, a political action committee. Sullivan had said he recorded the meeting and this week he produced the goods.
It ain’t looking good for Speaker Bonnen.
One of the lawmakers he targeted, Phil Stephenson of Wharton, said it is “time to cut the head off the snake.” Stephenson also said he believes 35 to 40 fellow Republicans are going to demand that Bonnen quit the speakership.
Bonnen and Sullivan talked about the speaker granting Empower Texans House floor access, an unusual arrangement under normal circumstances. Bonnen also reportedly delivered the names of 10 GOP legislators who, according to the recording, were a bit troublesome for the speaker. I guess they were, um, too moderate to suit his taste and certainly the taste of Sullivan, who demands that all legislators adhere to Empower Texans’ rigid right-wing ideology.
This ain’t good governance. Not even close.
You see, the speaker of the House isn’t just the leader of the party to which he or she belongs. The speaker should have cordial — if not warm — political relationships across the broad spectrum represented in the legislative chamber.
Bonnen has squandered all of that through his initial dissembling and then through the revelation that Sullivan was essentially correct, that the speaker betrayed his legislative colleagues.
It turns out that speaker isn’t the top-drawer statesman he portrayed himself as being. He’s a right-wing shill.
Adios, sayonara … b’bye, Mr. Speaker.