House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, on Friday questioned Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to endorse against a GOP member of the lower chamber, suggesting it could lead to a Democrat capturing the seat. 

Last month, Abbott gave his backing to Susanna Dokupil, who is running against state Rep. Sarah Davis of West University Place. The endorsement was the first time Abbott had thrown his support to a House primary challenger — and is not expected to be the last.

Asked Friday if it is an effective strategy for Abbott to endorse against GOP incumbents, Straus expressed bemusement — and some derision. 

"You have to ask him and David Carney," Straus told reporters after an event in Austin, referring to Abbott and his top political adviser. "I don't know what his goal is, but if his goal is to flip a Republican seat in Harris County to the Democrats, that'd be a pretty effective way to do it."

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After Abbott endorsed Dokupil, Davis' campaign and other Republicans aligned with her suggested Dokupil would lose the general election in House District 134 because she is too conservative. Hillary Clinton carried the district by 15 percentage points in 2016 after Mitt Romney won it by roughly the same margin in 2012.

Straus, who is not seeking re-election himself, promised to have Davis' back in 2018, offering an emphatic answer when asked whether he will support her over Dokupil. 

"Oh, hell yeah," Straus replied. "She's going to get plenty of help. She'll get more help now than I think she would've otherwise."

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott endorsed a primary challenger to a sitting member of the Legislature, state Rep. Sarah Davis, a Houston-area Republican. [Full story]

  • Texas House Republicans agreed to change their rules for selecting the next house speaker, paving the way for a potentially more conservative leader of the chamber in 2019. [Full story]

  • The revised Texas House sexual harassment policy includes language that strengthens protections against retaliation and provides specific steps to report inappropriate behavior. It comes about two weeks after The Texas Tribune detailed flaws in the former policy that often left victims to fend for themselves. [Full story]

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