Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Johnson’

Dear Jason Villalba: Enjoy This Festive Holiday Primary Challenge

Monday, November 27th, 2017

With the retirements of Joe Straus and Byron Cook, Jason Villalba might be the least popular Republican in the Texas House. Which explains why Santa (in this case Texas conservatives) delivered a primary challenge as an early Christmas present.

With a disastrous record in the Texas House and recent calls for gun control, Texans won’t be surprised to learn that State Rep. Jason Villalba (R—Dallas) could face a tough reelection.

On Monday, Dallas business owner Lisa Luby Ryan, who operates an interior design firm and the antique home furnishings store Vintage Living in Dallas, validated earlier rumors she was considering a run and announced her campaign against Villalba in the Republican primary.

“I’m simply overwhelmed at the initial support we have already earned and grateful for the caliber of individuals joining this campaign,” said Ryan in a news release. “Today’s announcement sends a loud and clear message that this district believes that we can do better than our current representation. I am running to provide voters a clear choice, and with this great support I intend to win.”

In her campaign announcement, Ryan also released an impressive list of supporters who are already endorsing her campaign. The list includes a bevy of conservative mainstays and a substantial number of prominent community business owners including Brint Ryan (no relation), a prominent tax consultant and chairman of the University of North Texas Board of Regents, who will serve as Lisa Luby Ryan’s campaign treasurer.

While Ryan’s background certainly plays into the amount of support she’s receiving in the district, and it’s also true that Villalba’s record has declined even further this session compared to his last, it’s likely that the donor community is supporting his opponent because Villalba has exhausted his usefulness.

While Villalba was, admittedly, a clownish and useless member of House Speaker Joe Straus’ team, he was a part of the team. But now, that team won’t be taking the field.

Given Straus’ announcement that he will not seek re-election and conservative efforts to amend the Republican caucus bylaws to ensure a more conservative Speaker is elected, Villalba is likely to be left on the outside looking in regardless of who is elected to be the next Speaker of the Texas House.

And it’s not just Dallas donors who have made that observation.

Indeed, at a recent lobby meeting hosted by Straus’ chief strategist, Gordon Johnson, Villalba didn’t even make the list of lawmakers that the group would try to “protect” in the upcoming Republican primary elections.

Given that Straus’ allies in the lobby were forced to spend more than $500,000 to protect Villalba in the 2016 primary, Villalba will be in serious trouble if the Austin political establishment hangs him out to dry.

Or if his constituents take a look at his record.

You may remember Villalba from such hits as I’m A Thin-Skinned Twitter Blockhead, Let’s Make It illegal For Gun Owners and Bloggers To Photograph the Police and I Have A Whole Lot of Stupid Ideas.

Let’s hope Lisa Luby Ryan succeeds in retiring him in 2018.

Straus Retirement Reverberations

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

The political reverberations from Texas House Speaker Joe Straus’ announcement that he’s retiring are still sounding throughout the state.

Hot on the heels of that announcement, Straus crony Byron Cook also announced he’s stepping down.

Another Straus crony, Rep. John Zerwas of Richmond, announced he was running for Speaker, though with both Straus and Cook leaving, reassembling Straus’ “Democrats and RINOs coalition” is going to be difficult (and hopefully impossible). Phil King of Weatherford, had previously announced he was running for Speaker.

Ross Ramsey provides some insight on the race (some of it even accurate) and discusses the unusual nature of Straus stepping down.

It’s an unusual move for a speaker: Straus unseated Craddick, who had beaten Democrat Pete Laney of Hale Center when the House flipped from Democratic to Republican. Laney had succeeded Gib Lewis of Fort Worth, who decided to quit after an ethics scandal. Lewis came after Billy Clayton, who had been acquitted after a federal bribery sting operation caught him in its net.

Snip.

This will be the first open race since the lead-up to the 1993 legislative session when Lewis was ending his fifth and last term, freeing anyone who wanted to throw their hat in the ring. Pete Laney had been chairman of the powerful State Affairs Committee. Other candidates for speaker included other Lewis lieutenants — the heads of committees on Appropriations, Ways and Means, Transportation and so on. They battled right up to the beginning of the 1993 session, when Laney announced he had put together the 76 votes it takes to win.

Rather than take a victory lap, Empower Texans announced they were going harder than ever after Republican Representatives who supported Straus:

Taxpayers must be vigilant to ensure that Straus is not able to install a hand-picked successor who will continue to be controlled by Democratic lobbyist Gordon Johnson and liberal special interests. That means being more engaged than ever in the upcoming elections to ensure that those Republican sycophants who have propped up Straus will be removed from power as well.

Earlier this year Straus earned a spot on the Citizens’ Choice Ten Worst List wherein he was labeled “The Puppet” for serving as a public face for Johnson, the Democratic Caucus, and a group of liberal Republicans. Whether his retirement will mean the ouster of his puppet-masters remains to be seen.

During the regular and special session this year, Straus went to war with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott, and the Republican Party of Texas, obstructing each of their conservative agendas on property tax reform, privacy, ethics, gun rights, and others issues. Straus appears to now be paying the price for aligning himself against voters and the leaders they have popularly elected.

According to Capitol sources, Straus’ decision took some of his allies by surprise, with many having no knowledge the announcement would be coming this week, if at all. Those representatives who have backed Straus in the past and are still running for reelection will have a particularly tough road ahead as they are forced to defend Straus’ record of obstruction in the March primary without his backing.

Not all of Straus’ lieutenants were out of the loop however. At the same time that Straus announced his retirement, State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana), the speaker’s top hatchet-man, also announced he is not running for reelection. That announcement comes on the tail end of several other retirements and others are likely forthcoming.

For example, according to sources, State Rep. Dan Huberty (R–Houston), who killed all school choice proposals this session as Straus’ Public Education chairman, has cancelled his fundraising events and may be headed for the door as well.

With Straus out of the way, conservative Texans need to be on high alert. There will certainly be an attempt to install a replacement for Straus who continues to empower lobbyists like Johnson and the Democratic caucus. It is essential that taxpayers ensure the Republican caucus unite around a candidate, and that those candidates commit to advancing the Republican platform and working with statewide Republican leaders.

In recent years, Straus supporters have promoted State Rep. Four Price (R–Amarillo) as a possible 2019 successor. With a liberal record and alleged ties between his and the Straus family, Price would certainly be a continuation of the current regime. Other possible candidates, such as former Democrat State Rep. Todd Hunter (R–Corpus Christi), who served over the past several sessions as Straus’ gatekeeper on the Calendars Committee, would also likely continue to maintain a power coalition with the Democrats.

Straus managed to stay Speaker by ruthless threats of killing legislation and bad committee assignments for Representatives who refused to toe the line. With that power gone, expect Straus’ Dem/RINO coalition to give way to actual conservative governance in the 86th Texas legislative session in 2019.