Hensarling, Straus not seeking re-election/Balance of power shifts as allies scramble to gain favor

Posted by : admin | On : November 2, 2017

The News Staff Reports
HENDERSON COUNTY–On Thursday, Texas R-Congressman Jeb Hensarling announced he will not be seeking re-election.
“Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned,” Hensarling stated. “Throughout this time, my family has graciously sacrificed for my service. As the parents of two teenagers, Melissa and I know there are only a few years left before they leave and make their own way in life. I want to be there for those years. Since my term as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee comes to an end next year, the time seems right for my departure.”
He said that during the remaining 14 months of his term, he will continue the fight for individual liberty, free enterprise and limited constitutional government.
He expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the support he’s received and for “the trust you have placed in me to advance the principles we share.”
Also this week, in the state house Republican Speaker of the House Joe Straus announced he was not seeking re-election for the 2019 session, stopping one term short of setting a possible record as Speaker.
As late as last month (September), Straus was saying he would seek a record sixth term as speaker and that he wouldn’t be running for the House if that weren’t true.
In his statement, San Antonio Republican Straus acknowledged his decision was “unexpected.”
“It’s been decades since someone has left the Speaker’s office on his own terms,” Straus said. “But we have accomplished what I hoped the House would accomplish when I first entered this office, and I am increasingly eager to contribute to our state in new and different ways.”
“I believe that in a representative democracy, those who serve in public office should do so for a time, not for a lifetime. And so I want you to know that my family and I have decided that I will not run for re-election next year,” Straus said in a campaign email.
Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, called Straus’ decision a “political earthquake” and said dynamics at the Legislature will definitely shift without Straus at the helm of the House. The speaker was a relatively quiet leader for his first four terms in the job. He found his voice in 2017, pushing against social conservatives whose agenda – led by what became known as the “bathroom bill” – threatened his own desire to push economic development, infrastructure and other more or less bipartisan ideas.
State house Speaker Straus’ announcement set into motion speculation about the future of Straus’ top lieutenants. One of his closest allies, Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, who is chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, said in a statement first reported by Quorum Report that he “will pursue other opportunities to serve our great state.”
Arch-conservative members who have opposed Straus face off against more centrist Republicans. Within hours of Straus’ announcement, one of his top lieutenants, Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, announced that he had filed to run for the speaker’s post. State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, had previously announced his candidacy, and others are expected to jump in.
Tea Party leaders and their allies have blamed Straus for killing controversial measures backed by the far right, most notably a bill that would have regulated which bathrooms transgender Texans could use.
Speaking with reporters after the announcement inside his office, Straus said he finally took the advice he always gives members: After any session, go home and talk to your constituents and family, and then make a decision about whether to run again.
“A confident leader knows it’s time to give it back,” Straus said.
No longer serving as speaker would allow a “greater opportunity to express my own views and priorities,” Straus said, adding that he would “continue to work for a Republican Party that tries to bring Texans together instead of pulling us apart.”
“Our party should be dynamic and forward-thinking, and it should appeal to our diverse population with an optimistic vision that embraces the future,” Straus said in the campaign email. “I plan to be a voice for Texans who want a more constructive and unifying approach to our challenges, from the White House on down.”