Tribpedia: 2011 House Speaker's Race

Tribpedia

The process of selecting a speaker is the most critical factor in how the Texas House operates because the speaker has concentrated power and selects committee chairmen, who can help ease or slow the passage of legislation.

The 2011 House Speaker's race began in earnest on the day after the Nov. 2, 2010, general election, in which House Republicans ...

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Wallace Jefferson swearing in Joe Straus at the 82nd Legislative Session.
Wallace Jefferson swearing in Joe Straus at the 82nd Legislative Session.

Straus Formally Voted Speaker

The Texas House formally re-elected San Antonio Republican Speaker Joe Straus. By acclamation, they chose to stick with the moderate, "will-of-the-House" speaker as opposed to overthrowing him with someone more conservative.  

House Speaker Joe  Straus, R-Alamo Heights, in January 2011.
House Speaker Joe Straus, R-Alamo Heights, in January 2011.

Texas Legislature Returns to Austin

The Texas Legislature today starts its 140-day effort to puzzle out a massive budget deficit, political redistricting, immigration and a slew of other gnarly problems. The budget issues came into focus Monday with new numbers from the comptroller, who says the state is recovering, slowly, from the recession. But first, legislators will get organized, voting on new rules, a new Speaker, and getting sworn in.

State Rep. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, after failing to win the endorsement of GOP caucus members for House speaker on Jan. 10, 2011.
State Rep. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, after failing to win the endorsement of GOP caucus members for House speaker on Jan. 10, 2011.

Paxton Loses in Caucus, But Remains in Speaker Race

State Rep. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, will stay in the race for speaker tomorrow though he got spanked in the Republican Caucus today. More than two-thirds of the caucus membes expressed their support for Speaker Joe Straus in a non-binding preference poll conducted behind closed doors. 

House Speaker Joe Straus entering a GOP House caucus meeting on January 10, 2011.
House Speaker Joe Straus entering a GOP House caucus meeting on January 10, 2011.

House GOP Caucus Prefers Straus for Speaker

House Speaker Joe Straus has the support of the House Republican legislative caucus, which met on the afternoon before the legislative session to take the measure of the incumbent and two challengers: Warren Chisum of Pampa and Ken Paxton of McKinney. With all but one of the 101 Republicans in the House present, 70 stood up to show their support for Straus in the closed meeting, according to legisaltors who were inside. With that done, there was no reason to check the support for the other two candidates.

Insiders on the Next Speaker and Running the House

For the year's first installment of our nonscientific survey of political and policy insiders on issues of the moment, we asked whether Joe Straus would win another term as speaker, whether the next speaker should share power with the Democrats when doling out committee chairmanships and other assignments and whether the Republican Caucus is the right forum for picking the leader of the House.

Governor candidate Debra Medina greets visitors at the Fort Bend County Chamber of Commerce prior to her speech in a heavily Republican area of Houston on Thursday.
Governor candidate Debra Medina greets visitors at the Fort Bend County Chamber of Commerce prior to her speech in a heavily Republican area of Houston on Thursday.

Medina: Straus Preferable to "Iron Fist" Leadership

Republicans might not all like House Speaker Joe Straus, but he's got a better chance than his predecessor to lead the House to "fiscally responsible, limited and just government," according to Debra Medina, the conservative activist and former Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Members of the freshmen class of 2011 at their new member orientation in December 2010.
Members of the freshmen class of 2011 at their new member orientation in December 2010.

Freshmen Will Make Up a Quarter of the New House

The biggest caucus in the Texas House is the Republicans', now with 101 members. Next? The Democrats', at 49. And then there’s the freshman class — one of the biggest in years — with 38 members. All but six are Republicans, and many of them replaced Democrats. They face some challenges.

Questions That'll Be Answered in 2011

Texas alternates election years with governing years, with legislative sessions set in the odd-numbered years after voters choose their leaders. There are variations, but it’s got a rhythm: Choose them, watch them govern, choose, watch. The elections behind us, it’s time to see what this particular bunch will do.