Re-elect Joe Straus to the Texas House

San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board

StrausThe thoroughly negative campaign against Texas House Speaker Joe Straus would be laughable if it weren’t so downright ugly.

Straus, whose integrity and resolve to provide steady leadership are fully intact, is being hammered by a wave of attacks as he seeks re-election to Bexar County’s District 121 seat in the state House. Day after day, Republican primary voters in District 121 are opening their mailboxes to find an avalanche of political hit pieces from Straus’ foes and an outside interest group, as well as Straus’ mail defending his record.

Tea party activist and former Olmos Park City Councilman Jeff Judson, who was ousted by Olmos Park voters in 2014, and Sheila Bean, a first-time candidate who worked in unsuccessful campaigns against Straus in recent years, are seeking to unseat Straus.

We strongly urge voters to re-elect Straus, who has proven to be a decent, effective leader. Straus’ calm maturity has greatly benefited the state of Texas as well as his hometown. The speaker has focused on solving major problems that face the state, such as successful efforts to make progress on transportation and water.

Straus is a fair speaker who allows the will of the House to carry the day — and that will is conservative. “The system does work when you let the members represent their districts faithfully,” Straus told the Express-News Editorial Board recently.

As we have noted before — the Straus-led House has approved tough abortion restrictions, defunded Planned Parenthood, passed a voter ID law and pushed conservative issues on many fronts.

Straus has been a leader in ending budget gimmicks, such as diversions of dedicated funds, and played a role in cutting billions of dollars in taxes. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called last year’s legislative session the most conservative in the state’s history.

Still, Straus’ opponents cling to the outrageous claim that he isn’t conservative enough.

Straus is not a scorched-earth bully as was his predecessor, Midland Rep. Tom Craddick, and as a result, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats has elected him speaker four times. In addition to being an effective method of leading the House, Straus’ approach exhibits a decency that is too often lacking in modern politics and is the style best suited to keep the Republican Party healthy in Texas over the long run.

Contrary to the claim made in one of Judson’s attack pieces, Straus is not a career politician. He spent most of his adult life pursuing a business career, and first entered the fray as a candidate in a 2005 special election.

Four years later, he was elected speaker, and quickly became so adept in the role that even his supporters most likely were surprised.

Straus remains a solid leader in his prime. District 121 voters should send him back to the House for another term.

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