Long Simmering Scandal Could Erupt This Week at State Capitol

There's usually not a lot of interest in the Texas State Capitol when the Legislature is not in session, but that will change this week.

A conservative lobbyist has promised this week to release an audio tape of Republican House Speaker Dennis Bonnen agreeing to 'target' certain fellow Republicans in the 2020 primaries.

Mark Jones, who is a political analyst at Rice University, says the significance of this is it stands to erode faith in the Republican Party leadership, right before the critical 202 elections. The lawmakers elected next year will oversee the process of redistricting, which will follow the 2020 Census, and will have the power to dictate Legislative and Congressional districts which will decide which party gets a leg up for the entire decade.

"The extent to which this remains a problem, is it undermines the Republicans' ability to maintain their majority," Jones said.

Bonnen was widely credited with helping lead a successful 2019 session after succeeding San Antonian Joe Straus as Speaker. Both Bonnen and Michael Quinn Sullivan, the lobbyist involved, are seen as allies of Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick.

"As long as this scandal keeps going on and the weaker Dennis Bonnen is, the more likely it is that Democrats will be able to flip the Texas House," Jones said.

Republicans have enjoyed overall control of statewide elected offices in Texas since 1994, and control of both chamber of the Legislature since 2003. Jones calls this unenforced error 'a case of hubris.'

Photo: Getty Imags

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