Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, may not be seeking re-election, but the five time leader of the lower chamber would not rule out running for governor or another higher office during a press conference Wednesday morning.

“I’m not one to close doors,” Straus told reporters in his office shortly after making the surprise announcement that he would not run again. “People suggest on a daily basis that I run for another office.”

But on multiple occasions, Straus said he would probably not do it in 2018.

Straus’ announcement not to seek reelection was made on his Facebook page and in an email to supporters. The powerful moderate voice in the country’s largest conservative state said he came to the decision with his family.

“I believe that in a representative democracy, those who serve in public office should do so for a time, not for a lifetime,” Straus wrote. “And so I want you to know that my family and I have decided that I will not run for re-election next year. My time as a state representative and as speaker will end at the conclusion of my current term.”

Straus’ current term expires in December 2018.

Straus has clashed with hardline conservatives in recent years. He opposed many of the top priorities championed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Straus’ chamber was instrumental in stopping the “bathroom bill” from passing this past legislative session, often referring to it as a ‘solution in search of a problem.’

“I’ve tried to lead in an unconventional way in today’s divided politics,” Straus said Wednesday morning.

His announcement has the potential to set the political balance of power in the state into a whirlwind as the House searches for a new Speaker.

Straus’ decision prompted plenty of responses from both sides and a quick announcement from Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, who said he’s now seeking the position.

Zerwas is a Straus ally and chair of the House budget writing committee.

“I appreciate the respectful, pragmatic leadership Speaker Straus has demonstrated the last five sessions, and will offer members leadership that allows them to represent their districts and the values of their constituents,” Zerwas said in a statement.

Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, has already announced he is running for the position.

Straus said he will stay out of the race to replace him.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for people who aren’t members in the Legislature in the next session to really register an opinion on that,” he said.


Posted by Karina Kling