Texas Republican Party Leaders Censure Outgoing House Speaker Joe Straus

Jan 29, 2018

Texas Republican party leaders have censured outgoing Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus. Party leaders said the formal condemnation has to do with Straus’ leadership decision during the last legislative session.

Credit Ryan E. Poppe

Many within the Republican Party, including GOP leaders in Straus’ own Bexar County, led the charge to censure him for formally disapproving of his leadership in his efforts to kill the transgender bathroom bill from this past legislative session. But with Straus already having announced he is not seeking re-election, why now?

Mark Jones, with Rice University’s Baker Institute of Public Policy, said the answer might have something to do with an effort by party officials, the governor and outside political nonprofits to rid the Texas Legislature of mainstream Bush-era Republicans.

“The censure is taking place in the broader context of the 2018 primary season, where Tea Party conservatives are very committed to reduce the ranks of centrist conservatives in the Texas House, and this censure allows them to continue using that plank even though Straus is no longer in the picture,” Jones said.

It takes two-thirds of the 64-member state Republican executive party to censure an elected Republican official. The Republican Party of Texas’ chairman James Dickey was one of 44 Republicans that voted to censure Straus.

Jones said the censure not only condemns Straus' leadership, but it could also stain any Republican incumbent who receives an endorsement or campaign donation from tenure House speaker during the 2018 Republican primaries.

Ryan Poppe can be reached at rpoppe@tpr.org or on Twitter @RyanPoppe1