Straus and the 83rd

Or is it the 84th? I don’t even remember anymore.

Anyways, David Simpson’s campaign to elect a “Christian Conservative” whimpered without a bang. In fact, he dropped it, so Joe Straus was re-elected by acclamation. Cheer up, it could be worse.

Now, everyone is talking about how Governor Perry has the unmitigated temerity to suggest we actually cut taxes and cut spending once again. Also on his priority list would be drug testing people on welfare and attempting to invalidate Roe v. Wade in the lone star state. Additionally, the Governor has strongly come out in favor of arming teachers.

Meanwhile, the Texas Tribune says that the State Senate will be maintaining the 2/3 rule, great news for the obstructing Democratic minority.

But the Straus news is what truly brings me to my key point: the paper tiger of the extreme Conservative. First, the far-right threatened to depose Straus in 2011, but no one even ran a feasible campaign against him. More recently, the Fiscal Cliff deal, in which a minority of House Republicans voted for Boehner’s deal, set off all the alarms on the Capitol Hill gossip rags about how Boehner’s speakership was doomed. In the end, only 12 Republicans defected, and none of them even voted for a legitimate candidate.

This brings us to what occurred yesterday in Austin. Joe Straus had been predicted by the ubiquitous prophets of doom to see some real challenging impediment to his speakership. First there was Bryan Hughes, then there was David Simpson. Both had something in common (besides the crazed Tea Party, theocratic ideologies): their campaigns self-aborted. This is similar to the Eric Cantor for Speaker campaigns (except that one never actually existed), just a bunch of hype by the media and pundits, myself included (for the record, I’m not comparing myself to the legitimate press).

Speaker’s race shakeup

Bryan Hughes, the Mineola Rep who was leading the valiant charge against Speaker Straus has dropped out of the running. In his place ha some David Simpson, a Vanderbilt-educated State Rep from the Lubbock area. The Chronicle has the story.

Simpson, it seems to me, is one of those “we need a Christian Conservative” people. His press release included a plethora of references to prayer, consulting with the divine, and God, and his website includes a Statement of Faith, whatever that is.

To me, whenever a politician brings up religion like this in a populist manner, it makes me a little nervous. Indeed, though I am always resistant to use the religion card, it seems to me that there is not another good reason for the far-right’s hatred of Speaker Straus. Yes, he doesn’t openly advocate hating Democrats, but he has brought up (and passed) some pretty extreme, controversial legislation, including Voter IDs. You sure didn’t see that happening when Craddick was in charge.

Hughes vs Straus

Once upon a time, when I was young and brash, I got into a pretty big fight over Joe Straus. Some of my old friends from Hebrew School and I compiled a list of the “Horrible, awful stains on Judaism” in the United States. Rounding out the top of our list were Senator Lieberman, Congressman Cantor, and most notably, Speaker Joe Straus. This was still back when the Democrats held 74 seats in the State House, and my foolish suggestion was that the State GOP replace Straus. Boy, I was wrong.

In the last legislative session, Straus was the Democrat’s only friend in preventing some of the most extreme legislation of all, like an Arizona-style immigration act and a bill to, from what I could gather, would neuter Airport Security.

Straus was going to be deposed last year, but when the Media got a hold of the fact it was because the GOP wanted a “Christian Conservative”, the challenge was dead on arrival. However, now it seems that the movement is once again in full swing, with Bryan Hughes of Mineola (yeah I didnt know where that was either) challenging him for the gavel.

For what it is worth, I do not think this is about anti-Semitism, I think it is about the extremists in the TX GOP who disavow critical thinking wanting to place one of their own in power. Dewhurst was too liberal, so they got Cruz. Now it seems Straus is too liberal. It seems that Speaker Straus no longer fits in with his party.

Here’s my solution: Democrats should swallow their pride and vote for Straus as speaker. I think the Dems could get 55-65 seats in November, which would mean convincing, at minimum, only 10 Republicans. Another coalition could work. We could call it “Texans united for Critical Thinking”.

If you want the real news, The San Antonio Express-News has more.