Naked City

Don't Bet Against Straus in 121

A popular San Antonio candidate running for an open House seat could be a key player, if only by family name, in a high-stakes effort to allow slot machines at Texas racetracks. Joe Straus III, a GOP hopeful in Saturday's special election to fill the District 121 vacancy, has family ties to the Austin Jockey Club, which seeks to build a racetrack facility in Pflugerville. Voters there will decide the controversial ballot item on Saturday.

Straus' most formidable opponent in the San Antonio contest is former state Supreme Court Justice Rose Spector, a Democrat with strong party backing and solid name ID. A third candidate, Paul Silber, is running as an independent. The House seat opened at the start of the legislative session, when Rep. Elizabeth Ames Jones, R-San Antonio, declined to take her Lege seat after Gov. Rick Perry tapped her to replace Charles Matthews on the Texas Railroad Commission. Matthews, a Republican with an independent streak, resigned to take a chancellor's position with the UT System. Straus announced his candidacy within hours after Jones officially vacated her House seat.

The Straus family is one of San Antonio's most prominent in civic and political circles, and candidate Straus enters Saturday's election with key endorsements from Perry, state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, and U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith. Straus served as Smith's campaign manager in his first run for Congress. Spector also has deep San Antonio roots and is expected to be a favorite among women and independents in a district that leans Republican. Some conservative Republicans opposed to legalizing the so-called video lottery terminals at racetracks could give Silber, the independent, enough votes to force a run-off. The gambling proposal died in its previous Lege life last year, but most bets hold that a comeback is inevitable.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond

    Naked City

    Four director possibilities rise to the top

    Naked City

    It's Square One for settlement plaintiffs

    Naked City

    Activists to push for stronger affordability language

    Naked City

    Longtime KVUE anchor leaves over contract disagreement
  • Naked City

    The White House's changes to the Clean Air Act are bad news for Texas, enviros warn

    Naked City

    Fired employee claims retaliation for union organizing

    Naked City

    A flawed study suggests that abstinence-only curricula does not reduce teen sex

    Weed Watch

    Polls show medical pot has strong public support

    Naked City

    State rep presses AG for 'murderabilia' opinion

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Amy Smith
The Work Matters
The Work Matters
A look back at some of our most impactful reporting

Sept. 3, 2021

Well-Behaved? Let's Assume Not.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story
Barbara Leaming's new biography makes the case that Jackie O suffered from PTSD

Nov. 28, 2014

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Joe Straus III, Joe Straus Jr., Elizabeth Ames Jones, Charles Matthews, Rick Perry, Texas Railroad Connection, Rose Spector, Jeff Wentworth, Lamar Smith, Austin Jockey Club, Pflugerville, Retama Park, video lottery terminals, Paul Silber

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle