Last Thursday Joe Straus announced the hiring of Lindsey Parham as a senior adviser. Parham is longtime aide and chief of staff to retired U.S. senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. This news may seem like inside baseball, but it’s a clear signal that Straus is not thinking about riding off into the sunset any time soon; indeed it suggests, for the first time, that he has long-term ambitions beyond this session and, perhaps, beyond the speakership.
I have always thought Straus’s personality is more likely to influence him to look at a federal office rather than another state office, although it beats me why anyone would want to run for Congress–that’s the worst job in American politics. But I would not be surprised to see Straus take a stab at a statewide office in 2014. Which one? Well, there’s a bull’s eye on Susan Combs in the comptroller’s office, which I think would be the job that Straus would most likely to be interested in.
So what does Parham have to do with this? The press release noted that she “brings a wealth of organizational talent, grassroots knowledge of every corner of the state.” In other words, she’s the pefect fit for someone who wants to run statewide and needs to amass a large collection of names from the moderate faction of the Republican party that was Hutchison’s base. No doubt Parham already has such a list.
I think we can take it to the bank that Straus could win another term as speaker in 2015. But if he continues to drive the agenda of the state, it is possible that he could run statewide on his record in the 2014 primary, which is what Ben Barnes did when he made the jump to lieutenant governor. Of course, the state party is still very conservative, sp Parham is going to need a lot of names in her notebook to help Straus win statewide office.