State Rep. Warren Chisum, one of two Republicans vying to unseat House Speaker Joe Straus, announced today he will be calling for the Republican caucus to meet early next year to settle on a single candidate for House Speaker.
“We need to respond to the will of the voters and work together to select a single Republican nominee for Speaker,” Chisum said in a statement. “There are three Republican candidates for Speaker now, and the Republican caucus is the appropriate place for us to narrow the field to one candidate.”
Both Chisum of Pampa and Ken Paxton of McKinney are framing themselves as more conservative than Straus and a better fit to lead the House given the newfound Republican supermajority.
Straus has more than 100 House members who have pledged to support him for another term as House Speaker. He only needs 76 votes. Conservative activists have been calling for Republicans pledged to Straus to withdraw their pledge and agree to back whoever the majority of the caucus chooses. Such a move would block the 49 Democrats in the House from having any say in the decision, assuming Republicans could settle on a single candidate.
According to caucus rules, any ten members can call for a meeting. Chisum released a list of nine other members who will sign the request for the meeting including local Reps. Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills and Phil King of Weatherford. Chisum said he hopes the caucus meeting will be called for Jan. 5.
Last week, Straus spoke about the possibility of a caucus meeting at a Republican club event in Arlington.
“Generally, I'm not opposed to the caucus meeting,” Straus said. “In fact, I can tell you as I stand here today, I have a supermajority of the Republican caucus who supports me so I have no fear about that.”
When asked why he didn’t call a caucus meeting himself, Straus said he didn’t think it was appropriate for a challenged candidate to ask for a caucus meeting.
Earlier this morning, before Chisum’s plans went public, Paxton was a guest of WBAP-AM radio host Mark Davis. Paxton predicted a Republican caucus would take place before the start of next month's legislative session.
“The only question is 'Do the Republican members show up?' and I would hope for this purpose, as important as it is, they will show up,” Paxton said.
Davis asked Paxton if he’s asked Chisum to step aside to avoid splitting up support of those members that want Straus replaced.
“I don't think I've convinced him yet but I’m hopeful that we can figure out a way to do this together,” Paxton said.