Top Republicans in the Texas House on Monday released a statement saying they no longer want House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Lake Jackson, to serve as speaker.
In a joint statement released Monday night, the five GOP members — including four committee chairmen appointed by Bonnen — said, “a leadership change is necessary.”
State Reps. Dan Huberty of Houston, Lyle Larson of San Antonio, Four Price of Amarillo, Chris Paddie of Marshall and John Frullo of Lubbock said the secret recording of Bonnen released last week by conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan “damaged the reputation of the House and relationships among individual members.”
The recording revealed that Bonnen offered Sullivan media credentials with access to the House floor in exchange for Sullivan targeting “moderate” Republican House members in the 2020 GOP primary.
“We believe that without a change in House leadership, the existing damage will continue to metastasize, and our efforts will be overshadowed and become increasingly difficult,” the statement says. “This issue is larger than any one individual, office, meeting or statement. Speaker Bonnen is our colleague and our friend; but we believe an expedient, deliberate and well-planned transition is needed for the House and best for Texas.”
The statement, sent out by Republican consultant Allen Blakemore on behalf of Huberty, one of Blakemore’s clients, would appear to sound the death knell for Bonnen’s speakership.
Four of the five members signing the statement — all but Frullo – were committee chairmen and critical members of Bonnen’s leadership team.
Huberty leads the House Public Education Committee, and Bonnen praised him at the end of the session as the most consequential lawmaker in memory for his leadership on school finance reform. Price chairs the House Calendars Committee, which controls the flow and pace of legislation. Paddie heads the Energy Resources Committee. Larson chairs the Natural Resources Committee.
The five lawmakers who signed the statement were not among those Bonnen betrayed at his June 12 meeting with Sullivan, in which he and Burrows suggested the names of ten moderate members who Sullivan could “pop” without inviting Bonnen and Burrows’ ire. They are not among the members who had previously called on Bonnen to resign either, and they do not stand to gain much with Bonnen’s demise. However, by taking this action, they might effectively be offering themselves — or one among them — as an alternative.
It is now difficult to see how Bonnen could be elected speaker in the next session — if Republicans hold the House majority in the 2020 elections — or even how he’ll be able to keep the speakership in the interim.
Blakemore is also Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s consultant.