I haven’t posted yet, on what has now become, the biennial pre-session Speaker’s race in the Texas House of Representatives. But the recent events, GOP Rep. Bryan Hughes getting out of the race and GOP Rep. David Simpson getting in the race, means it’s time to break the silence. These recent developments were foretold last week by a right wing blogger.
It is interesting to see David Simpson throwing his hat into the Speaker’s race, for a couple of reasons. He was recently seen at dinner in Austin with Trey Martinez Fischer, the self appointed spokesman for the Democrat [sic] Party of Texas. Was Simpson trying to make a deal with the Democrats? As you remember David followed Trey’s lead in trashing the redistricting process, that he was part of, that resulted in more conservative Members.
And Trey is largely funded by Trial Lawyers, maybe that is why he pick Bryan Hughes to run in the first place but saw that his candidacy was not gaining any traction so he tries to get Simpson to run. Who knows?
Simpson’s largest contributor happens to be Bryan Hughes. They same Bryan Hughes who is currently running for Speaker. The Ethics Commission shows that Bryan donated 28K to Simpson in 2012. Did they have a plan? I have said over and over that Bryan is running to increase his name ID to run against Senator Eltief, a major thorn in Michael Quinn Sullivan’s side.
Why would Simpson consider running for Speaker against a friend and someone he donated so much money to – it is not a common practice for Members to donate so much money to another colleague. Unless they had a plan – Bryan is to run for a while(gaining name ID, money and contacts ie: see Ken Paxton) and then drop out for David to run which was ultimately the objective. My only flaw in the scenario is that David is not well thought of and Members think he is kind of creepy. He has no chance at becoming Speaker.
This is interesting for a couple of reasons. The main reason for GOP challenges to Speaker Straus have been for selfish political reasons. To garner name ID to run for higher office. In 2011, one challenger Ken Paxton went on to run and win for Texas Senate, another Warren Chisum ran statewide for Railroad Commissioner, and lost to Christi Craddick, who had better name ID.
The other interesting part is that David Simpson, as opposed to Bryan Hughes, has more than a little Ron Paul, libertarian, damn-the-consequences in him. He will see this through and stay in until he loses (or wins), and force members to make a controversial vote on the first day of session. Unlike Paxton, Chisum and Leo Berman last session. And Simpson will also make a speech from the front mike as well.
Here’s Kuff’s take on the switch in the Speaker’s race.
You can read Simpson’s letter to his House colleagues, and Hughes’ endorsement, at the link above. Burka was skeptical of this when it looked like a dual challenge might be an attempt to oust Straus via divide-and-conquer. Simpson is a bit of an odd duck, a true-believer conservative who isn’t necessarily an orthodox Republican, for whatever value of “orthodox” is in play this week. It’s possible he could make a real run at this if he gets Democrats on his side, which would be ironic given how Straus ascended to the big chair in the first place. Democrats have every incentive to play hard to get, so a real race could work in their favor. But as was the case back in 2009 when Straus toppled Tom Craddick, none of this means anything until one person or the other can credibly claim to have pledges from a majority of the members. Basically, Straus is Speaker until he admits, or is forced to admit, that he’s not.
My only advice to Democrats would be for them to be as coy as possible in public, but to stir the pot as much as possible behind the scenes. And that looks like what they’re doing so far.
Some Democrats who helped Straus win election in 2009 felt a chill in the relationship after huge Republican gains in the 2010 elections gave the GOP a supermajority in the House. They’ve been shopping, openly, and criticizing Straus for his handling of redistricting and other issues. Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, accused Straus aides of “intentional discrimination” in the redistricting maps, and he released legal depositions to make his point. He’s still talking to the speaker, but has said openly and frequently that he and his fellow Democrats aren’t feeling the love they think they deserve. They want a place at the table they’re being asked to set.
“It behooves you to be skeptical and critical of anybody running for the speaker’s office,” Martinez Fischer said. “If we’re good enough to get you to the dance, we’re good enough to take part in the policy, too.”
“Democrats are going to be looking for what they can get out of this, but it’s been very transparent — everything I’ve seen and heard is about the changing of the rules for more fairness,” [Cathie Adams, leader of the Texas Eagle Forum] said. “That’s honorable. If the Democrats want to support that and the Republicans want to do that, then what’s going to bring about good government.”
Getting called “honorable” by Adams means the Democrats are doing something right in this fight. They appear to be up for grabs without them saying so, which is great.
What everyone needs to be aware of is that Straus, in reality, represents as Speaker the overwhelming majority of the “middle of the road” business/corporate interest in Texas, regardless of party. The grassroots and majority of GOP primary voters want him gone. But they don’t get to vote for Speaker. Their elected representatives do. But most of them overwhelmingly rely on the “middle of the road” business/corporate interest to finance their campaigns. Which is why Straus is still extremely likely to be back as Speaker.
But that’s no reason for the Democrats not to stir up as much animosity as possible between the “middle of the road” business/corporate and the base of the Texas GOP.