Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune
In a surprise move, House Speaker Joe Straus announced Wednesday he does not plan to run for re-election in 2018 — a move that could shake up Texas politics for years.
“I believe that in a representative democracy, those who serve in public office should do so for a time, not for a lifetime. And so I want you to know that my family and I have decided that I will not run for re-election next year,” Straus said in a campaign email.
Straus’ announcement immediately set off a scramble among members who are considering replacing him at the chamber’s dais. Within hours, several members announced an interest in the seat.
The House elects its speaker on the first day of each regular legislative session. The vote to replace Straus is set for the start of the 86th legislative session on Jan. 8, 2019. If history is any guide, the race could draw a dozen or more potential candidates before then.
Here’s a look at who’s already filed paperwork to run for the speaker’s seat and lawmakers who’ve expressed interest in a potential run:
Phil King (R-Weatherford), 61, Attorney
- District 61, member since January 1999
- 61 years old
- Lives in Weatherford
King filed paperwork to run to be the next speaker of the Texas House in late September. His announcement followed a two-day House Republican Caucus retreat where anti-Straus members of the House discussed the caucus’ process for selecting a new speaker. King, a former police officer, chairs the House Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee.
“What I have learned is that the role of the Presiding Officer is not to control the House, but rather to facilitate, assist and empower all members to represent their districts, promote their ideas, and implement their policies,” King said in a September statement.
John Zerwas (R-Richmond)
- District 28, member since January 2007
- 62 years old
- Lives in Richmond
Soon after Straus announced his plans to step down at the end of his current term, one of his top lieutenants, Zerwas, announced that he had filed to run for the speaker’s post. Zerwas chaired the House Higher Education Committee during the 84th legislative session and currently serves as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Before filing his declaration of speakership candidacy paperwork with the Texas Ethics Commission, Zerwas said in a statement that he appreciated the “respectful, pragmatic leadership Speaker Straus has demonstrated the last five sessions, and [I] will offer members leaderships that allows them to represent their districts and the values of their constituents.”
Expressed Interest But has not filed:
Eric Johnson (D-Dallas)
- District 100, member since April 2010
- 42 years old
- Lives in Dallas
Democrat Eric Johnson of Dallas hasn’t officially thrown his hat in the ring yet for the speaker’s seat, but he said he plans on consulting with “family and advisers before deciding whether or not to become an official candidate.” Johnson is vice chairman of the House Redistricting Committee and was recently chosen to serve as a delegate to the Democratic National Committee.
In a statement, Johnson said Texas would benefit from having a Democrat serve as House Speaker because “one-party rule has been the norm in Texas for far too long.” He expects to make a decision in early 2018.
Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches)
- District 11, member since January 2013
- Attorney, Businessman
- 55 years old
- Lives in Nacogdoches
The day after Straus announced his plans to step down, Clardy told his local paper he would consider a run for the position. Clardy is serving his third term in the House and serves as vice chairman of the Local and Consent Calendars Committee.
“I’ve had a number of colleagues call me and talk to me about serving as the next speaker. I would be honored to do it,” Clardy told The Daily Sentinel. “I would consider it. I have a lot of respect for the position, and we need that filled by a person who has a real vision for what the future of Texas should be.”