As Democrats try to make inroads into the decades-long GOP dominance in Texas, the biggest political battle in the state in 2018 might end up being Republicans vs. Republicans. Divisions between conservatives and moderates in the Texas GOP have been flaring up for months leading up to the current primary season. But they may have reached a zenith last weekend when the Republican Party of Texas voted to censure state House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), who has already announced he will not seek re-election this year.
The decision to censure Straus despite his plans to leave office was made for specific reasons. "The reasoning, I think, was that he will undoubtedly be involved in some other way politically in the future, so we didn't want to just give him a pass," says Mark Ramsey, member of the Texas State Republican Executive Committee. "(Straus) did a lot of things that obstructed the Republican platform, a platform that is a model used by many other states."
In particular, Straus is accused of blocking or killing legislation on several issues important to conservatives in last year's legislative session. "Of ten core principles of the Republican Party platform, he was guilty of opposing eight," says Ramsey. "Probably the most important were blocking of pro-life legislation, blocking of school choice legislation, and of course property tax reform."
Straus also drew the ire of conservatives by opposing and ultimately killing the so-called "bathroom bill" that was designed to ensure people only use the public restroom of their biological gender. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called out Straus repeatedly during the regular and special sessions last year for blocking the bathroom bill and the property tax reform bill. "Certainly he has been an enemy of the (Republican) platform," says Ramsey.