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Villalba: Re-elect Speaker Joe Straus

Yes, it's early. But state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, is already taking Joe Straus' side in next year's speaker's race.

State Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, looks at Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston, after Walle raised a point of order on HB 100...

Yes, it's early. But Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, filed papers entering next year's race for speaker. And Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, has shown every indication he'll seek a fourth term in that post. 

So it's on.

Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, is taking Straus' side, in a letter headlined "Speaker Straus: The Reagan Conservative" — apparently sent to other members of the House. Here you go:

“Let not the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

--Voltaire

As primary night drew to a close and it became clear that movement conservatives most certainly have the wind at their backs heading into the run-offs, I decided to take a dispassionate look at Representative Scott Turner’s (R-Frisco) challenge to Speaker Joe Straus to serve as the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives in the 84th Legislative Session.  While Rep. Turner’s filing wasn’t completely unexpected, it was eagerly heralded by certain interest groups who have made an industry out of opposing Speaker Straus.  Representative Turner is a charismatic, inspirational, up-and-coming star of the Texas Republican Party.  His recent speech at a TPPF conference brought down the house with its message of hope, struggle and success.  He is a warm and genuine man of faith who is both my classmate and my friend.

But, as the curtain rises on the 84th Legislature in a little over nine months from today, I will nevertheless cast my vote for Speaker Joe Straus.

My vote will not be an indictment of Representative Turner, nor will it be a statement on the brewing schism between the movement conservatives and mainstream Republicans.  I support Speaker Straus because I am a Reagan Republican whose sole motivation is to work each day to enhance the lives of the people of Texas.

As a conservative, this means that I want to see the Legislature be a careful steward of the people’s hard earned tax dollars.  Just like my own household, I want the Legislature to balance the budget, spend less than we make, take on less debt, save money for a rainy day, and choose carefully how we deploy state resources.  Under the leadership of Speaker Straus, we have done all of these things.  These are the primary reasons that the favorability of the Texas House of Representatives stands at nearly 60%, while the favorability for the United States Congress stands at a dismal 9%.

Conservatives also operate from the precepts that the people know how to spend their money better than the government and that at every reasonable opportunity, the state should afford tax relief for our citizens and businesses.  Based on even a cursory review of the record, we see that the Legislature under the leadership of Speaker Straus has done an excellent job meeting both of these objectives.  During the 83rd legislative session, the Legislature voted for over a billion dollars in tax relief for our small businesses and provided for nearly 300 million dollars in electricity rebates for our citizens. 

Similarly, one of the more important issues for most Texans is having a strong and growing economy that provides a welcoming and fertile climate for our businesses.  Under Speaker Straus’ leadership, the Legislature passed ground breaking tort reforms that significantly reduced frivolous lawsuits against businesses, strengthened our water infrastructure by funding a 50-year water plan for our growing population, and kept the regulatory burden on Texas businesses at reasonable levels.  Most mainstream political analysts would agree that the cornerstone for the “Texas Miracle” rests on the common-sense policy agenda of the Straus-led Legislature.     

On social matters, Reagan Conservatives want to ensure that we continue to protect the most vulnerable among us: unborn Texans.  During the 82nd and 83rd sessions, the Texas Legislature passed the most comprehensive and effective pro-life legislation in the country.  True conservatives not only talk about passing effective legislation, we actually work together to find solutions to get the job done.

Like all conservatives, I am acutely aware that over the course of the last several sessions the Legislature has left some chips on the table.  With strong Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate, it is often asked “why didn’t we do more?”  The answer lies both in the strong presence of our friends on the other side of the political aisle and in the ruddy complexion of the modern Texas Republican.  So long as members loyally represent the political character of their districts, there will be a disparity of opinions – even among members of the same party.  No doubt, every Republican, including this one, wants to accomplish more.  But most members of the Legislature accept than an 80% success is still an overwhelming victory.  And, as Reagan himself noted “my 80% friend is not my 20% enemy.”

While I have tremendous respect for my good friend Representative Turner, I serve Texas for the benefit of those who sent me and I will vote in accordance with what I believe will result in the greatest good for all Texans, albeit acknowledging that sometimes we may fall a little short of perfection.

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