Former Aide To Pres. George H.W. Bush Is Looking To Unseat Joe Straus
Before state representatives could choose Joe Straus to become the Speaker of the Texas House, he had to be elected in the San Antonio district where he lives. He’s now represented House District 121, that stretches from Alamo Heights north towards Hollywood Park, for 10 years. During that time Straus has faced a number of Republican challengers who’ve claimed Straus isn’t conservative enough. But none of them have had as much political experience as tea party candidate Jeff Judson.
“I went straight to Washington, worked on the senate side, starting with working for Sen. John Tower. I worked on Capitol Hill for eight years, finished with a political appointment in the first Bush administration; I was in the US Department of Energy,” Judson explained.
Judson came back to Texas to head the Texas Public Policy Foundation from 1994-2003. He left that well-known conservative think tank to open up his own public policy firm and to serve on the board of directors for the San Antonio Tea Party.
Like Judson, Straus' political career also began in Washington working for Sen. Tower. He also served as an aide in both the Reagan and first Bush administrations before returning to Texas.
Judson claims Straus, as Speaker, has blocked important conservative initiatives.
“There is a lot of frustration for how the House operates, there are issues that for some reason we just can’t seem to solve,” Judson explains.
Defending his boss' time in office, The Speaker's Communication Director Jason Embry points how Straus presided over the House while members were able to balance the state's budget, cut over $4 billion in taxes, expanded gun rights and approved record-level spending on border security.
Judson hasn’t officially declared his candidacy, but he’s hired a campaign treasurer and is raising cash.
Straus has won all of his House elections by a vast majority, but he says he’s taking Judson’s challenge seriously.
“You know I’ve been elected time and time again out of the district and I enjoy very strong support from our constituents. I like campaigning. I like to be able to tell the story of success up here and I’m very confident about being elected but I don’t own this job, and every two years you have to go out and make case and get re-elected, which I will do this time, but I take no challenge for granted and those who do are the ones that get in trouble,” Straus said with confidence.
The Straus campaign is sitting on just over $8 million in campaign funds, a war chest that could be used to bury Judson in political ads between now and the March primary.
Straus was recently chosen as second in command by the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, a group that works to elect Republicans to state legislatures across the country. Straus’ tea party critics have accused the Speaker of using his new role to appear more conservative. But Straus appears comfortable with where he stands.
“Republicans did very well in the mid-term elections and I’m honored that they turned to a Texan to lead the effort, but I’m not going to take my eyes off my backyard, my number one focus will be on my re-election in District 121 and making sure my friends around the State of Texas come back for the 2017 session,” Straus said.
Judson is also confident his campaign will have a win this spring.
“I fully think I’m going to win because the people of this district have been waiting for a change,” Judson said.