In 2011 Jodie Laubenberg stood with conservatives in the Texas House and voted against Joe Straus. Now, rumors are swirling that she is poised to renounce her exclusive status in the conservative movement and support Straus in the upcoming speaker’s race.
Has Laubenberg been turned? If so, what’s her motivation?
Mike Hailey, writing today for Capitol Inside, suggested Laubenberg is looking at a nice kickback committee chairmanship if she sides with the liberal Republican leadership currently in control of Texas’ lower chamber. There are chair vacancies thanks to Straus allies quitting or being roundly defeated in primaries. We’ll talk more about that dynamic in a moment.
As Hailey suggests there is evidence Laubenberg may have become cozy with Straus. Two weeks ago she appeared in an introduction video for him at the Republican Party convention. The video was played while members were led onto the stage as human shields to protect the embattled speaker during his brief remarks.
Straus only escaped the stage by hardly occupying it and co-opting the rest of the Republican House delegation. Read more about the sadly bizarre scene here.
Hailey’s insight: chairmanship honey has been waved in the face of Laubenberg and fellow conservative Cindy Burkett. He’s likely correct because it certainly isn’t Straus’ reprisal stick intimidating members into supporting his next run. Straus and his buddies Gordon Johnson, Charlie Geren, and hack political consultants Murphy Turner have proved their retribution game is lame.
Straus cronies attempted to take out conservatives who opposed his return to lead the House. They failed. The only conservative Straus ally successfully toppled was Wayne Christian, who they had to redistrict out of his seat and burn over half a million in resources to defeat.
Christian notwithstanding, Straus’ major opposition in the House was safe while his cardinals were in danger. Laubenberg ran unopposed in 2012. Ken Paxton, who Laubenberg supported to replace Straus in 2011, strolled into a senate seat, and Bryan Hughes crushed an opponent recruited to slow down his current run for Speaker.
Straus committee chairs Vicki Truitt, Rob Eissler and Tuffy Hamilton all lost their bids for reelection and chairmen Sid Miller and Chuck Hopson are currently in run-offs. Additionally, several Straus ally candidates in open seats lost. These candidates were marked by donations from gambling interests and Straus’ leadership circle including Geren and Byron Cook.
There is a fight being fought behind the scenes for control of the Texas House. Activists are better off this time around, but they need to keep an eye out for indicators like Laubenberg. In his article, Hailey suggests that if Straus can successfully bribe a handful of conservatives with committee chairmanships the leadership fight is over. Members should ask Sid Miller how that deal works.