Speaker’s parting shot: Straus arms his House loyalists

Joe Straus
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Lame duck Speaker Joe Straus isn’t going quietly.

The retiring House leader and his chief strategist, Gordon Johnson, are persuading deep-pocketed lobbyists to bankroll like-minded candidates in more than two-dozen legislative races next year, according to the Capitol Inside website.

Straus’ initiative was unveiled after the conservative New Leadership PAC, announced $100,000 bounties for candidates to defeat the speaker’s allies.

Straus’s battle plan and fundraising pitch reportedly were rolled out by Johnson, a longtime high-profile lobbyist to business establishment friends of the speaker.

The objective: Maintain moderates control of the House, where Straus has blocked bills backed by Gov. Greg Abbott and which also passed by the Texas Senate.

The Texas Monitor asked both Straus and Johnson for comment. We will update this story when we receive a response.

The speaker’s electoral initiative, as plotted by Johnson, aims to protect 22 Straus loyalists and to win a handful of open seats.

The highest priority group reportedly includes Reps. Ernest Bailes of Shepherd, Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake, Scott Cosper of Killeen, Sarah Davis of Houston, Wayne Faircloth of Galveston, Dan Flynn of Van, Lynn Stucky of Sanger, and Paul Workman of Austin. Each faces primary challenges from conservatives.

Davis’s primary opponent, Susanna Dokupil, was endorsed by Abbott this week. The governor also endorsed Workman.

In the second group are Reps. John Zerwas of Richmond, Tony Dale of Cedar Park, Lance Gooden of Terrell, Dan Huberty of Humble, Ken King of Canadian, Lyle Larson of San Antonio, Chris Paddie of Marshall, J.D. Sheffield of Gatesville, and Hugh Shine of Temple.

Zerwas, an announced candidate for speaker, could be moved up to the first tier if he draws a “viable challenger” before the Dec. 11 filing deadline, according to the Capitol Inside story.

Chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, Zerwas was singled out for criticism by the New Leadership PAC earlier this month.

“[He] appears to be running as the Democratic Caucus choice for speaker, which should not be acceptable for any Republican,” NLP treasurer Don Dyer told The Texas Monitor.

The third group on Straus’s incumbent protection list includes Reps. Dennis Bonnen of Angleton, Drew Darby of San Angelo, Will Metcalf of Conroe, Walter “Four” Price of Amarillo, and John Raney of College Station.

At least six candidates running in open races will get “massive muscle” from Straus’s efforts according to Capitol Inside.

They are:

Clint Bedsole of Frisco, Cynthia Flores of Round Rock, Sam Harless of Houston, Cody Harris of Palestine, John Payton of Plano, and Reggie Smith of Sherman. Charlie Lauersdorf of Garland and Jim Phaup of Sunnyvale reportedly are listed as “worthy choices” in a Dallas-area race that won’t have an incumbent on the ballot.

Straus’s Alamo Heights seat, which he will vacate at the end of 2018, is not on the list.

“Team Corruption just named their starting lineup,” Dyer said. “They have announced to the world which state representatives have been bought and paid for.”

Even before hitting up lobbyists for campaign cash, Straus has $10 million in unspent political funds he can direct to state contests. The veteran lawmaker reportedly offered to refund contributions from a fundraiser that was scheduled before his retirement announcement last month.

“It appears he is not giving up his grip over the House without a fight,” Dyer said.


  1. FAKE NEWS. . . ..good lord this makes me angry. I”ve know Judge John Peyton for years. He is no Strauss lackey.

    Not sure where you get your information or if you are just a pawn of unethical “consultants” but you clearly know nothing of a man with 2 decades of elected public service

  2. All of Straus’s phony republicans in leadership,committee chairs etc are being primaried by actual Conservative Republicans. These Conservative candidates have money and they are wanted by the voters in these Conservative districts. Oh, these voters are PISSED OFF too. Why? Because they were lied to by RINOS. Straus RINOS. This is going to be awesome watching all those liars called RINOS get spanked by the voters in there Conservative districts.

  3. George Soros the billionaire communist has pledged 18 billion dollars to the Democrats and anyone else willing to take his money for the destruction of America. Austin used to be great then all these people from California with their socialist views moved in and changed it for the worse, time for them to move back to CA and fix the mess they created there and fled from. If they win seats in Texas the Texas will become another NY,CA, IL, WA or OR.

  4. Susan Whatley Jackson Susanne Huffman Smith Boyce Whatley Garrett Boersma George Gillespie Margaret McBride Hunt Melody Spray notice the liberal Rino Chris Paddie is listed on the second tier group to protect from.being beat by a real conservative. Fuzz


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