For a decade, the movement conservatives who dominate the Texas Legislature chafed under the rule of Speaker Joe Straus (R-Alamo Heights), who frequently killed conservative priorities like last sessions' 'bathroom bill.
But despite losing 12 seats to Democrats in last week's election, 1200 WOAI news reports House Republicans have selected a conservative, Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) as the next Speaker, to succeed Straus, who did not seek re-election last week.
"I will honor the tradition of the House of being a bipartisan chamber," Bonnen said as he announced has gathered more than 100 House members who will support his bid for Speaker. "I plan to continue that legacy of greatness."
But Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, says Bonnen will continue that legacy from a more conservative standpoint.
"He has staked out a more conservative position on issues like property taxes and local control," Rottinghaus said.
That could be bad news for the City of San Antonio, which is gearing up to oppose expected bills that would limit the city's ability to raise property taxes.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a conservative who runs the Texas Senate, openly criticized Straus in the 2017 session for killing the bill the Senate passed twice which would have limited the use of public and school rest rooms and locker rooms to a person's biological sex, praised Bonnen's selection.
"I congratulate Chairman Bonnen on his announcement today that he has secured a path to be elected the next Speaker of the Texas House," Patrick said. Texas is stronger when leadership works collaboratively. I look forward to building a close partnership with him moving forward. I know Dennis shares my commitment and the governor’s commitment to property tax and school finance reforms and I look forward to working with him on those issues and many of the other urgent challenges we are facing in the state. If the governor, the speaker and the lieutenant governor are on the same on page there is nothing Texas can’t do.”
The selection of Bonnen also prevents the possibility of a very public and divisive battle to begin the 2019 session, a battle that would have been more significant considering the loss of 12 Republican House seats in last week's election
."This is an opportunity for the party to unify around a single candidate, and essentially heal itself ahead of a session which has the potential to be very contentious," Rottinghaus said.