State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, one of the most vocal members of the Texas House, has left the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus.
The Bedford Republican, who was first elected to the lower chamber in 2012, resigned late last week, telling members he was recommitting himself “to the grassroots as a clear voice in the Texas House.” Stickland, who didn’t give a specific reason for his departure, told The Texas Tribune on Monday that he “has got nothing but love for those guys and [hopes] to work with them.”
The Freedom Caucus, founded at the beginning of the 2017 legislative session, was created to fight for hardline conservative issues. The group often clashed with former House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, and other GOP lawmakers aligned with the more moderate faction of the party. Perhaps the caucus’ most notable success came in May 2017, when it killed more than 100 bills in a single day using a procedural maneuver — an event that became known as the "Mother's Day Massacre.”
So far this year, under new House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, the caucus has mainly fallen in line. Most members have cast votes alongside fellow Republicans on a host of bills, generally chalking up their support as acts of good faith to keep the negotiation process moving forward.
But Stickland hasn’t always been willing to join in. In November, as Bonnen trotted out a list of signatures to show he had more than enough support to become the next speaker, Stickland was the lone Freedom Caucus member whose name was absent. Stickland did, however, vote in January to elect Bonnen the next speaker.
More recently, Stickland cast lone votes against two major bills — the lower chamber’s school finance proposal and legislation that would shore up the Teacher Retirement System pension fund.
Stickland is the second House member to depart from the caucus in recent months. In December, on the heels of Bonnen’s announcement that he had the votes to become speaker, state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, left the group, stating that his “time, talent and treasure is best devoted to fighting for those things within the Republican Caucus.”
Stickland’s resignation brings the group’s membership to 10.
The office for state Rep. Mike Lang, a Granbury Republican who was elected as the caucus’ chair earlier this year, declined to comment.