October 26, 2017
When people walk away from a job, it can be bittersweet. But in Texas House Speaker Joe Straus's case, the celebrations have already begun! The moderate Republican, who stood in the way of his party's push to protect privacy, announced this week that he won't seek re-election. It was welcome news for the state's conservatives, who've watched with frustration as Straus ridiculed, blocked, and mischaracterized legislation that voters across the state supported.
After months of angering his party's top officials, Straus probably saw the writing on the wall for 2018, when he would have faced a serious fight to keep his job. Tempers have been boiling since Texas's special session this fall, when Straus vowed to kill a bill that would have protected women and children in the state's bathrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, and showers. His stance, which pit him against Governor Greg Abbott (R) and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (R), was hugely unpopular with voters -- who eventually saw him as a bigger obstacle to their agenda than most Democrats.
"I believe that in a representative democracy, those who serve in public office should do so for a time, not a lifetime. And so I want you to know that my family and I have decided that I will not run for re-election next year," the speaker said in a campaign email. Sweetening the news for conservatives, Straus's co-conspirator, Rep. Byron Cook (R) -- who also tried to sink the privacy push -- made a similar announcement, saying he would "pursue other opportunities to serve our great state."
Although it will be awhile until the Texas GOP can capitalize on the two men's absence, it was certainly in keeping with the party's other moderates, who all seem to be looking for the exits. On a national level, voters have watched a parade of less conservative Republicans Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) walk away from jobs that may have been in serious jeopardy come next year's election. It's a positive sign for conservatives, who've watched these RINOs spoil progress on everything from health care reform to religious liberty protections. After the election of Donald Trump, perhaps they have new respect for the power of the base's discontent. Conservatives (and social conservatives in particular) are tired of being kicked around and taken for granted by their own party. And if November 2016 showed Republicans anything, it's that compromise on core values will cost them.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.