A dozen more House Republicans publicly pledged their support to Speaker Joe Straus on Tuesday morning, bringing the total number of members expected to back him above the 76 votes he needs to be elected for a fourth term as speaker.
State Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, released a statement Tuesday backing Straus, with 11 other Republican members' names on it.
“As conservative Members of the Texas House, we are proud to support the re-election of Speaker Joe Straus,” the statement reads. “Speaker Straus will be decisively re-elected because he encourages members to vote in their districts' best interests and because he is a fair, principled leader.”
The latest pledges of support for Straus make a path to victory exceedingly unlikely for challenger Scott Turner, a Frisco Republican who has the backing of many Tea Party activists.
Here’s how the math plays out so far: At the start of next year’s legislative session, the House is expected to be split between 98 Republicans and 52 Democrats. The 12 members listed in Morrison’s letter brings the total GOP members publicly backing Straus to 27, a total that includes Straus himself. (Several other Republicans who are longtime Straus supporters have yet to include their names on public statements, suggesting the number supporting him is higher.) If, as in past sessions, Straus draws the backing of the majority of the House Democratic Caucus, he would easily surpass the 76-member threshold.
Turner has not released a list of House supporters, though several members have publicly said they will. This week, both the Dallas and Collin County Republican parties approved resolutions endorsing Turner for speaker.
Turner has said he plans to continue his campaign until a vote is held Jan. 13, the first day of the legislative session. He and his supporters have said they want a public record of the members who back Straus over Turner. In the past, House speaker challengers have traditionally dropped out of the race before the first day of the session if it was clear that the votes weren't there.
The list of House Republicans who have publicly backed Straus in the past week include Trent Ashby of Lukfin, Cecil Bell of Magnolia, Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake, Travis Clardy of Nacogdoches, Myra Crownover of Denton, Tony Dale of Cedar Park, Marsha Farney of Georgetown, James Frank of Wichita Falls, Larry Gonzales of Round Rock, Jason Isaac of Dripping Springs, Kyle Kacal of Pearland, Phil King of Weatherford, Tim Kleinschmidt of Lexington, J.M. Lozano of Kingsville, Doug Miller of New Braunfels, Morrison, John Otto of Dayton, Chris Paddie of Marshall, Tan Parker of Flower Mound, John Raney of Bryan, Ron Simmons of Carrollton, Drew Springer of Muenster and Paul Workman of Austin. Three newly elected Republicans who will join the Legislature in January — Dade Phelan of Beaumont, Gary VanDeaver of Clarksville and Rick Galindo of San Antonio — have also pledged support to Straus.