Straus and the Changing of the Guard

Austin Reps Howard and Strama weigh in on the next speaker

Reps. Howard (l) and Strama: Waltzing into the future with Straus
Reps. Howard (l) and Strama: Waltzing into the future with Straus

Speaker-apparent Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, couldn't be much more of a change from Speaker Tom Craddick. A fiscal conservative who is not in debt to the social reactionaries, 16 years and 18 lege sessions Craddick's junior, and from a major urban district: But, most importantly, it's not hard to find Democrats with something good to say about him.

Austin legislators Donna Howard and Mark Strama were amongst the first wave of Straus supporters, and both have worked with him in the past. Howard explained her enthusiasm about his speakership. She said, "Joe happens to have a moderate record, but he is a conservative. So it's not so much about ideology and more about the conducting of our business."

Strama was equally enthusiastic about what Straus could mean for the future of the House. "Having an urban representative in the speaker's chair makes some difference," he said. Calling him "moderate in temperament" but conservative in ideology, Strama noted that his ascension was a changing of the guard. Just after yesterday's press conference (and before the last rivals withdrew) Strama said:

"Joe is relatively junior, but I also think that's an advantage, because he doesn't have any of the baggage from some of the knock-down, drag-out battles of the last few sessions. He's a true Republican, a conservative, and he's going to have a lot of appeal to the Republican caucus once they get over the fact that he defeated Tom Craddick.

To Democrats, what I know is that he's going to give us a seat at the table and give us the opportunity to take part in the policy-making process … Having sat on the sidelines, I can tell you, it's better to have a seat at the table."
Like Howard, Strama has some first-hand experience of Straus' eagerness to reach across the aisle on moving useful legislation forward.
"One of the issues I work on a lot is renewable energy, and he authored the big energy efficiency bill last session. I had a number of bills that were working their way through the process that were relevant to that bill and he came to me and said, let's put them into the omnibus bill, it improves their chances of passing. So I joined as a co-author of his bill and incorporated some of my proposals. It was win-win for both of us. I've worked with him closely and I really am optimistic."

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Speaker's Office, 81st Legislature, Speaker Race, Joe Straus, Donna Howard, Mark Strama, Renewable Energy

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