Texas Capitol Building

Credit: J.Burkett, 1080 KRLD

State Rep. Bonnen Declares Race To Replace House Speaker Joe Strauss Is Over

November 13, 2018 - 9:35 am

By Chris Fox, 1080 KRLD Austin Bureau Chief

AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - Angleton Republican State Representative Dennis Bonnen announced at a Capitol Press Conference on Monday that he has the endorsement of 109 Republican colleagues to be the first new speaker in 10 years. “We’re here to let you know that the Speakers race is over and the Texas House is ready to go to work.”

The election to replace outgoing speaker Joe Straus won’t be official until the full House vote on day one of the 86th State Legislature on January 8th. “I’m very proud…we’re going to release here in a moment 109 names of my colleagues that have signed on to support me to be Speaker.” 

At the Press Conference Bonnen called for party and State House unity. “When the House stands together it does great things…and this Texas House is going to do great things. We stand ready to work with the Governor and of course we want to work with our friends and partners in the Senate and the Lt. Governor.”

Bonnen also reached across the aisle saying all 149 other members are going to be a part of this House.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick responded quickly to the announcement congratulating Representative Bonnen saying he looks forward to building a close partnership with him. “If the governor, the speaker and the lieutenant governor are on the same on page there is nothing Texas can’t do.”

Bonnen added his top priority and that of many of his colleagues is to school finance reform. “It is time Texas took on the challenge of fixing our broken school finance system and the Texas House will be leading with all of us to get that done.”

The move from Speaker Straus to future Speaker Bonnen is seen as a political shift to the right for the chamber. University of Houston Political Science Professor Brandon Rottinghaus believes the House Republicans acted quickly to replace Straus as a sign of party unity. “So this is an opportunity for the party to be able to unify around a single candidate and to effectively heal itself going into a session which can be contentious.”

The announcement comes shortly after Democrats won back 12 seats in the Texas House in the mid-term elections. Rottinghaus believes this will play a role in how Speaker Bonnen plans to lead. “A chamber which has seen a rising number of Democrats means that Speaker Bonnen is going to have to placate them somehow and usually that means offering up opportunities to chair committees.” When asked if he’d be open to giving Democrats committee chair positions Bonnen said “I will honor the tradition of the House in being a bipartisan chamber and I am committed to continuing that legacy of greatness that makes the Texas House stand out from other legislative bodies around the country.”