Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) was a key figure in the sudden rise of Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) to the speakership. Cook hosted the meeting of the “Gang of 11” that ultimately selected Straus as their alternative to then-Speaker Tom Craddick (R-Midland), the first Republican Speaker since Reconstruction. Within a couple of days, Craddick conceded the gavel, and Straus was unanimously elected Speaker when the Legislature convened a week later.

Straus has been re-elected three times since, turning back conservative challengers Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and David Simpson (R-Longview) without a vote in 2013 and defeating Rep. Scott Turner (R-Frisco) in a record vote, 128-19, in 2015. None of those three challengers will serve in the House next session (Hughes and Simpson are running against each other for SD1; Turner did not seek re-election.).

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