Monday, September 25, 2017

Would Joe Straus really switch parties and run against Abbott?!?


"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

[Update: See more here.]

This morning, Michael Quinn Sullivan posted a Facebook video where he speculated about Joe Straus switching parties and running for Governor against Greg Abbott as a Democrat:



[Note: Sullivan's video is a half hour long, so we're not going to post a bullet point list of highlights, but we suggest you watch the whole thing yourself.]

About an hour ago, we sat down to write a blog post arguing why this would never happen.  But the more we think about it, the less sure we become.  Let's put it this way: Probably not (and certainly not if he has any sense)...but Joe Straus is so dadgum arrogant that we can't put it past him.

With all due respect to Michael Quinn Sullivan, he wasn't in that room on Saturday.  This author was.  And we think Straus is running for another term as speaker.

Start with the fact that that's what Straus said he was doing on Saturday.  Furthermore, in response to our own question on Saturday, Straus went to extended lengths to remind this author of the fact that he won house district 121 by 32 points in 2016.  As it relates to the question about running for Governor, while it's absolutely true that Straus didn't shut the door, as someone who was in the room we must point out that that question was asked in the context of a) an eventual open seat whenever Abbott retires and b) running as a Republican.

It doesn't take a genius to see how Straus comes back.  It's the same playbook they've used the past few cycles.  Your most toxic incumbents [eg. Byron Cook, Dan Flynn, and Dan Huberty] retire.  You have the local chamber recruit some faceless hack with low self-esteem to run in the open seat [eg. John Wray, Ernest Bailes].  Then you combine the fact that the new guy doesn't have a record with a significant spending advantage, and you hold on to enough open seats that the basic outlines of your coalition remain intact.  Like we said, that's what they've done the past few cycles.

We're not convinced the caucus is done with Straus.  We'd love that to be the case, but we've gotten burned predicting that in the past.  Arguing "this time is different" remains perilous.

If you're Joe Straus, and you're smart, your goal is to stop major conservative priories from being enacted.  If that's your goal, then you've actually been pretty successful the last few years.  Why mess with what, from your perspective, seems to be working?!?

Then there's the fact that running against Abbott would be a suicide mission for Straus.  Joe Straus might face an uncertain future with the house republican caucus, but no Democrat is getting elected statewide anytime soon.  Joe Straus has to know this...right?!?

If Straus switches parties to run against Abbott, such a move would instantly turn the race into a national story.  And if Straus turns this race into a major national story, he turns the fact that the Texas house has been run by liberals for the past decade into a major national story.  And if Straus turns the leadership style of the Texas house into a major national story, when Straus inevitably loses the jig will finally be up.

So that's why we think Straus won't switch parties.  That's certainly why he shouldn't if he has any sense.  But, that being said, we can't eliminate the possibility that Joe Straus is so arrogant that he gets seduced into running.

Here's how the narrative would work: Blah, blah bathroom bill.  Blah, blah economy.  Never mind the fact that nothing of the sort happened in either Houston or North Carolina.

Of course, if Joe Straus were to attempt to portray himself as some sort of savior for the state's economy, the next point to raise is obvious: Joe Straus is the primary reason why the Texas Legislature failed to address property taxes last session.  During both the regular session and the special session, the Senate passed bills that were tangible steps in the right direction, and both times the house refused to negotiate in good faith before the house watered them down into meaninglessness.  Good luck running a campaign based upon "the economy" with your pro-high property taxes record.

Bottom Line: If he has any sense, Straus isn't running; but if he's arrogant enough to try then, to paraphrase Dirty Harry, he's welcome to make our day.

1 comment:

  1. I think it would be delicious if Straus were to switch parties and run against Governor Abbott. That might solidify the effort to change how the Speaker is elected, and would certainly give a great push to the Rule 44 Censure resolution. I can't even imagine how that would play at the Bexar County GOP headquarters.

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