You want to hear the rumble of thunder under your feet?
Put your ear to the ground and get a load of the racket emanating from a Texas legislator’s announcement that he won’t seek re-election in 2018.
That would be House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican, who stood firm, tall and steady against the onslaught of the far right within his party. Straus is calling it quits.
The Texas Tribune is reporting that a political earthquake is under way in Austin. A Rice University political scientist says the “political center in Texas” has just collapsed.
That might be the truth.
Straus fought against the TEA Party and other fringe elements within the Republican Party. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick sought to shove the Bathroom Bill down our throats. Straus was having none of it; a bill that would require people to use public restrooms according to the gender noted on their birth certificate. The Bathroom Bill discriminates against transgendered individuals and Straus wouldn’t stand for it.
His stubborn refusal to let the bill get a vote in the House has drawn the outrage from those on the right. So the speaker is out of there.
And the successors are starting the line up. One of them might be a friend of mine, Rep. Four Price, an Amarillo Republican first elected to the House in 2010. I asked Price about the speaker’s future a few weeks ago, but he said he was standing behind his guy, Straus.
Now that the speaker is on his way out, there exists an opportunity for one of Straus’s key lieutenants — that would be Price — to step in and maintain the moderate tone that the House ought to keep.
As the Texas Tribune reports: More than any other Texas Republican with real power, Straus was seen as a voice of moderation. On issue after issue, he and his team alone stood in the way of the kind of runaway populism that Donald Trump championed and major statewide Republicans endorsed.
Will another moderate step up? Might it be Four Price? And would a Speaker Price resist the pressure that’s sure to come hard from the far right?
Meanwhile, the ground continues to rumble.