The speaker vote: Will Paxton be nominated?
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Michael Quinn Sullivan sent this e-mail earlier today. It speaks for itself. I will reserve comment for the end of his letter. Despite calls from conservative activists, tea party leaders, Republican grassroots and Texas voters, the House Republican caucus voted in closed session this afternoon to endorse Joe Straus for re-election as House speaker. Race Not Over? No doubt to the chagrin of some tepid lawmakers, the speakership race apparently isn’t over. Where does your legislator stand? Do they know where you stand? Check SpeakerMandate.com, then call them! The real vote for speaker will be shortly after noon tomorrow — Tuesday, Jan. 11. According to media reports, 70 of the 100 Republican House caucus members present for the meeting supported Speaker Straus. I’m told by lawmakers in the room that the meeting went like this: the members were asked to stand if they supported Joe Straus for speaker; when 70 stood, the caucus leaders said there was no need for other votes and the meeting basically ended. –I’m going to interrupt here, because what Mr. Sullivan wrote is contrary to what caucus chairman Larry Taylor said. Taylor said that when they counted to 70, he asked the other candidates if they wanted to continue the count, and they said no. I may have misunderstood what Taylor said; he may have put the question to the membership. In any event, neither Paxton nor Chisum asked for the count to continue. The suggestion by Sullivan that Taylor cut off the count is contrary to what I heard Mr. Taylor say. [Resuming the Suillivan e-mail]: The meeting, as noted above, was held behind closed doors and there is no record of who “stood” for Mr. Straus and who kept their seat. But the speakership race apparently isn’t over… I am told State Rep. Ken Paxton will challenge Mr. Straus on the House floor. Should Mr. Paxton proceed, there will be a record vote pitting him against the incumbent Mr. Straus. And pitting some House members publicly against their precinct chairs, base supporters and primary voters. At Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, we have noted repeatedly the only vote we can grade is a record vote on the House floor. The caucus vote has not been relevant to us, since it is neither legally binding nor publicly recorded. –If indeed Ken Paxton is going to mount a quixotic challenge to Straus on Tuesday, there can be only one purpose for it. Paxton has already been routed. His speakership race is an abject failure. His standings with members is zilch. If indeed he decides to run for speaker anyway, it is because he is doing Michael Quinn Sullivan’s bidding. Sullivan wants a record vote so that he can target House members who vote for Straus. Paxton is a willing accomplice in this nefarious scheme. It is a desperate, last-gasp attempt, not to defeat Straus, because that can’t be done, but to punish members who refused to be intimidated by Sullivan and the rest of the Republican hit squad. Some folks think that the only reason Paxton ran for speaker was to raise his name identification for a future race (state senator? congress?), probably against Van Taylor. I can think of seventy folks who won’t be endorsing Paxton.