Note: This report has been updated since we issued our Breaking News alert.
Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) announced he would not seek re-election.
“After much prayer, consultation and thoughtful consideration with my family, it is clear that I can no longer seek re-election as state representative of District 25, and subsequently, as Speaker of the House.”
More than 30 members of his caucus had publicly called for his resignation or said they did not support him as the chamber’s leader, including nearly all of the members listed by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) during a June meeting with Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan. Bonnen initially denied Sullivan’s account of the meeting, but eventually apologized for saying “terrible things” about Democratic and Republican members following revelations that the meeting had been secretly recorded by Sullivan.
That recording was released last week, days before a previously scheduled caucus retreat. The Republican Caucus voted to adopt a statement condemning Bonnen’s actions but did not ultimately vote on a motion, offered by Bonnen himself, that he should resign. In the days since the retreat ended, calls for new leadership have grown within the caucus and from outside the Capitol.
He will be the first Speaker to serve only a single term since Price Daniel (D) in 1973-75. Ironically, Daniel also lost the support of his political base during the interim following what was widely viewed as a successful legislative session. In Daniel’s case, it was a right-to-work compromise with conservatives during a failed constitutional convention and a falling out with organized labor, which Daniel blamed for the convention’s failure. However, Daniel had pledged to serve only one term as Speaker, so his political miscalculation did not cost him the gavel.
Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers submitted the report of their investigation into the June meeting to the Brazoria Co. District Attorney’s office. Dist. Atty. Jeri Yenne (R) said she would decide by the end of the week whether it contains grounds to prosecute.
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