Thursday, November 29, 2018

#TXLEGE: The Bonnen Administration

Left to Right: Evan Smith, Mary Gonzalez, Jeff Leach, and Drew Springer

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

We attended this afternoon's Trib discussion about the new house leadership.  It was very productive.  We should be cautiously optimistic about next session while understanding that it will require a different playbook.

From a conservative perspective, the most important takeaway is that Gordon Johnson is done.  We asked Jeff Leach and Drew Springer, point blank, about Gordon Johnson's influence over both the speaker selection process and his general influence over the GOP caucus moving forward.  Both Leach and Springer used the word "none."  That, by itself, is a game changer.

But beyond that, the tone really does feel different.  For example, Evan Smith asked whether the house members prioritized somebody who could "stand up to the Lt. Governor."  We were astonished to hear Drew Springer throw cold water on that narrative.  Springer explained that, rather, he wanted a speaker who "works better with the Senate."  Leach explained that one of the reasons Bonnen was able to unify the GOP caucus was because he has good relationships with Abbott and Patrick.  Even Mary Gonzalez threw shade on Straus' bad relationship with the Senate.  That's different.

The shift was most apparent in Springer.  Obviously, this website has had some very uncharitable things to say about Drew Springer over the yearsBut this does not sound like the same Drew Springer.  Last session, Drew Springer was a key player in killing property tax reform.  Today, Drew Springer was talking about how 93% of the Republican primary voters in his district voted for a lower rollback rate.  Springer also said some good things about not pouring education funding into bureaucracy.  That is, to put it mildly, new for Drew Springer.

Mary Gonzalez also made some interesting comments.  She called Bonnen's promises of a fair process to be "a huge shift."  Coming from a Democrat, that is quite a statement.  Gonzalez also said that Bonnen has made no promises regarding Democrat committee chairs.

One more interesting note: Jeff Leach gave an impassioned, well-informed, stemwinder on the subject of criminal justice reform.  He specifically talked about how leaving people to fester behind bars when it serves no rehabilitative or restorative purpose offends his convictions as a pro-lifer.  In so doing, he damn near got a standing ovation from a room full of Austin liberals.  Duly noted moving forward.

Bottom Line: We don't see how you walk out of today's session feeling anything other than optimistic....

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