Via Dennis Bonnen's Facebook
Dennis Bonnen (center) is considered an ally of former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus.
Texas, meet your (likely) new Speaker of the House — Dennis Bonnen.
Before you shrug and click to another article, remember San Antonio Republican Joe Straus used that same powerful position to block the lege from enacting the anti-transgender bathroom bill opposed by progressives and business interests alike.
So, how Straus' successor runs the show will play a big hand in determining whether lawmakers stick to practical stuff like hashing out school funding or tilt at windmills that alienate huge swaths of voters.
Bonnen — an Angleton Republican and a 20-plus-year House vet — announced
Monday he'd won the endorsement of more than 2/3 of the 150-seat chamber. He needs a majority vote at the session opening to land the job.
While Bonnen is considered a trusted Straus ally, it's unclear how likely he is to stick to the previous speaker's path of prizing common sense over party ideology
For one, Bonnen's been ranked the 126th most conservative lawmaker
in the 150-member chamber by one political scientist's informal list. What's more, a significant number of House Democrats declined to throw support behind him.
But, on the other hand, he's gained a rep as someone unafraid to push back against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the arch-convervative leader of the Texas Senate and leader of the bathroom bill crusade.
During a news conference covered by the Texas Tribune
, Bonnen struck a unity note and pledged to keep the House a "bipartisan chamber." He also telegraphed an interest in maintaining independence from Patrick's senate.
“We’re gonna be the House,” Bonnen said. “When the House stands together, it does great things. And this Texas House is going to do great things.”
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Texas voters get a better sense of how true those pledges hold after the session opens Jan. 8.