At a Texas Tribune event Friday, three Lubbock Republicans — Rep. Dustin Burrows, Rep. John Frullo and Sen. Charles Perry — looked back at contentious regular and special sessions of the Texas Legislature, expressing pride in the laws they passed and lamenting the failure of some measures that never made it to the governor’s desk.
The most contentious issue the legislators tackled, though, was the 2019 House speaker’s race — set to be an exciting one after the surprising announcement last month that longtime Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, would not seek re-election.
Here’s what the three Republicans had to say on the speaker’s race:
First: a performance review for Straus. The lawmakers expressed mixed opinions on Straus. Frullo said he would “most likely” have voted to re-elect the speaker; Burrows was more restrained, saying, “I don’t know who else was running.” Perry, whose more conservative upper chamber often found itself stymied by Straus, was more forthright. “There was a suppression of the Republican party inside that chamber to the point that it boiled over,” Perry said. Frullo and Burrows agreed that there were bills they would have liked to vote on that Straus kept from coming to the floor.
So who’s up next? Several names have already come up as potential speaker candidates. Burrows, who has come out in the past in favor of a speaker from West Texas, made the same point Friday. But he stopped short of saying whether he’d favor Rep. Four Price — an Amarillo Republican who has expressed interest in running. Frullo said he wants a conservative speaker — “somebody who’s going to keep taxes low and make the state a better place.”
“I think there’s a good chance we’re going to have a speaker from West Texas next time,” Burrows said.
Watch Burrows describe his ideal speaker:
And it’ll depend how that vote happens. A Texas House Republican Caucus working group recommended last month that it consider changing its bylaws so that GOP members could unite behind one candidate for speaker behind closed doors before the official floor vote — a move that would empower Republicans’ choice in the election and minimize the role House Democrats would play. Burrows, who served on that working group and favors such a plan, said the next Republican speaker should have the full support of the majority of the caucus.
“I want to see more party unity,” he said.
But it’s not all about the speaker, Perry emphasized. The Legislature was made less productive this year due to Republican infighting among Straus, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott. “I want our big three to work together,” Perry said. “That was the loss of the last session.”