Texas GOP chief speaks after historic censure of Speaker Straus

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Texas Capitol

James Dickey, who was elected Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas in June 2017, gave his first far-reaching interview about the historic censure of House Speaker Joe Straus that occurred on Saturday.

“It was not something that the body, the State Republican Executive Committee, took lightly at all,” Dickey told The Texas Monitor. “We were very careful to make absolutely sure to follow all of the procedures properly. It was a very open and transparent process.”

The vote was 44-19 to censure the speaker, who is not seeking re-election, overcoming the threshold requirement that two-thirds of the 64 SREC members must approve.

There were two censure resolutions proposed.

While the one against Joe Straus stood, the one against Byron Cook failed.

“I had called and spoken to both as soon as I knew there was a chance they would come up,” Dickey said. “They both appreciated the advance notice,” but  “neither was present.”

According to Dickey: “We were very deliberative, very cautious. We had a debate. There was an early attempt to stifle debate and that was voted down. The body was able to debate this at great length.”

He also said having an open debate was key.

“No matter what the outcome, if this had been done behind closed doors it would have felt like a smoke-filled room deal. And that’s not what we do,” he said.

Straus, first elected to the House in 2005, became increasingly at odds with grassroots Republicans, as well as Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

“He’s a wealthy man whose only real role would be to block more legislation next session,” said Mark Jones, political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute in a previous interview. “Hearing the constant scorn of being a RINO [Republican in Name Only] wasn’t going to be all that appealing.”

While Straus’s seat appeared safe with his Alamo Heights base, the speakership was becoming problematic.

When Rep. Phil King, a Republican from Weatherford, launched a challenge for the powerful position, Straus knew opposition had grown far beyond the 12-member Freedom Caucus.

“It was more than a symbolic challenge,” Jones noted.

One lawmaker who won’t be contending is Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana. Straus’ chief lieutenant announced he, too, was retiring.

The speaker had appointed Cook to chair the newly created Texas House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness, and Cook pledged to “work hard throughout the remaining 14 months of my current term” to complete the assignment.

In a previously calendared meeting, the House Republican Caucus is scheduled to convene Nov. 8 to consider amending rules for electing the speaker. One proposal would bind House Republicans to support the caucus vote. That would effectively nullify the role of minority Democrats, who brought Straus to power.

Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.

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Trent is an award-winning editor and reporter, who has previously worked The Denver Post, The (Nashville) Tennessean, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Most recently, he was the investigative producer for Houston’s KTRK-TV ABC-13. He was also the editor and founder of Texas Watchdog, a ground-breaking news group that paved the way for this project. Trent is a teacher of journalism skills, and has shown hundreds of reporters and citizen-journalists how to use public records, databases and journalism tools to keep a watchful eye on their own local government.

68 COMMENTS

  1. Here’s Rule 44’s penalties: Such a resolution may include a request to the State Convention or SREC that the named office holder be penalized. If such a request is included, the delegates of the State Convention by majority vote, or the State Republican Executive Committee by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the full membership, may vote to concur with the resolution of censure and declare that no Rule or Bylaw enacted by any division of the Party at any level that demands the Party be neutral in intraparty contests shall be observed with respect to the named candidate, and no financial or other support shall be provided to their campaign by the Party except that which is required by law.

  2. So the people are left with a group of buffoons who steal property taxes dedicated to our schools drastically reduce our healthcare system so we can pass bathroom bills. Tome to wake up people before nothing is left of Texas.

  3. The GOP considered everything and did what they had to do to protect the party platform. What are we of we say we are conservatives, yet do nothing when our elected govern as Democrats?

  4. When a politician does not uphold the party platform then he is not being true. When a politician inhibits good legislation and promotes bad legislation then he is lacking in integrity. When a politician is backed by associations/lobbyists that do not have the best interest of Texas peeps at heart, that pol lacks character, in essence, a rino. Sanctuary cities? Gender fluid bathrooms?? Mr Straus wants this. He should have been censured or recalled years ago. Truth and facts are there.

    • A bathroom is just a bathroom.
      Texas has more pressing issues that trying to determine if people are using the right plumbing fixture.
      The bill was divisive and a complete waste of time; Strauss was right not to support it.
      Given the evidence, there’s more risk when being in a restroom with a Republican politican than a transgender person.

    • Jayne Aquino Would you want your daughter or female loved one in a bathroom alone with a pervert? That is an important issue. If a child is molested, they are damaged for life. I don’t see how he was right to endanger my daughter and granddaughter. Oh, more people have died in the back seat of a democrats car than have in a republicans car.

  5. Sad to see the extremist faction gaining momentum in Texas. Maybe with the light of day, and vigilant news coverage, voters will wise up and see how dangerous they are. With any luck that will result in successful challengers in the primaries and even at the polls to restore balance and good government.

    • Do you mean like really representing the people in their District? Or, in the role of Speaker of the House, the people of Texas?
      Because that’s what the Chairman is working to assure.
      The idea that this is some minority of Texans pushing this is ridiculous. Conservatives continue to be elected because a large majority of Texans are conservative. Some people believe this can’t be So because they are surrounded in their liberal enclaves by other liberal, or liberal leaning, folks. And THEY are the minority in Texas.

  6. To many LIBERAL Republicans.! Vote for conservative candidates only.
    Texas is bigger than the depraved, degenerate, debauched, demented, perverse perverted, progressive liberals !!

    • No, Mark Adams, that is a progressive liberal psychological syndrome.
      As for running a party, liberals even fix their own primaries. Ask Bernie Sanders supporters…..Socialistic liberal globalists have highjacked the Democrat party.

    • Terry Taylor, I have called nobody a name, I do not hate anybody, and I do not prevaricate.
      And your liberal hate filled tactics no longer works , attempting to disparage a persons character, or impugn their integrity. Well prevaricating about them, that deflection has lost it’s effect.
      Do to liberals having lost all similitude to/of their own credibility !!

    • Mr. Eric Clapton, oh to the contrary sir. I have a very comprehensive knowledge. Enough so I realize legalizing marijuana , has nothing or very little to do with the medical community.
      THC, is already available in pill form . And smoking marijuana is the least effective manner of usage for 99% of those who do need it medically.

      As a recreational drug, it is twice as harmful as cigarettes to the lungs with long term or daily heavy use.
      Add that to the fact other drugs are commonly used in connection with marijuana because of relaxed inhibitions , marijuana may be more deadly on our highways than alcohol.
      I know enough sir, that I am not influenced by the liberal rhetoric, or the profiteering entities.

  7. Craig Gourley Straus? He’s a filthy democrat who pretends to be a Republican, kinda like Donald Trump.

    The censure is meaningless anyway, because that jackwagon isn’t running for re-election.

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