“I think Scotty’s a good guy,” said Flynn, however, he indicated that Turner had not proven his leadership capabilities in terms of delivering votes to pass legislation Turner had authored. In addition, Flynn claimed, “He’s never asked me to vote for him.”
Flynn defended his reasoning for voting for Ken Paxton for Speaker in the 82nd Legislative Session saying, “2011 was a totally different situation… I had committed and followed through with my commitment. Ken Paxton is a dear friend.” He added that he believed Paxton could deliver votes and that he wasn’t a freshman legislator. Paxton was elected Texas Attorney General in the November 2014 General Election. This will, in fact, be Scott Turner’s second term in the Texas Legislature.
In 2013, Flynn switched his allegiance to Straus and declined to lend support to Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), elected in November 2002, nor Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), elected November 2010, citing a lack of leadership skills and experience. With the support of 65 Democrats and 11 Republicans, Straus, elected to the House in 2005, first became Speaker in 2009, ousting Tom Craddick, the first GOP House Speaker in Texas since the 19th Century.
Newly elected District 4 State Rep. Stuart Spitzer (R-Kaufman) said, “I have not committed to vote for anyone. I probably will not commit prior to the vote. My father is a carpenter and always says, ‘measure twice and cut once.’ I am new at this, but I study history and the history of this is that it changes as the vote nears. There has not been a record vote in 25 years. Am I leaning one way? Sure I am, but things change and I keep my commitments; so I will keep measuring. The last month has shown some whom were thought to be voting one way to change. I am not a flip-flopper. The people I represent are not flip-floppers. I am looking for someone who will do the will of the people. The people of Texas…clearly voted for a right-of-center agenda. I look at votes taken and who will lead us to the right in word and deed.”
One of the primary jobs of the Speaker of the House is to appoint legislators to committees. The Speaker appoints Committee Chairs and Co-Chairs, as well as the other members. This is where the power is, since there are thousands of bills filed each session and few proportionately that make it out of committee and onto the floor for a vote. Each legislative author is responsible to “talk-up” his/her bill(s) with committee members and gain co-authors who will help promote the legislation, so that it will be passed out of committee and to floor for a vote. There are often several bills that “look alike,” or have similar wording. So, just because one bill promoting Second Amendment rights is held up in committee, doesn’t mean that a bill with similar language won’t make it to the floor.
Flynn believes that conservative lawmakers have a pretty good track record in passing conservative legislation. “I know this,” he said, “ The last three sessions of the Texas Legislature, we’ve passed more pro-life bills in the history of Texas, and more pro-family legislation…”. In defense of Speaker Straus, Flynn said, “From Straus, I’ve never heard any instructions on how to handle my committees or what we should hear.” The only instruction he received from the Speaker he said was to “Protect the integrity of the House.”
However, right-of-center groups such as, Texas Right to Life, Empower Texans and Eagle Forum have raised doubts, and pointed to many conservative bills that were held up in committee, which should have made it to the floor for a vote by the Republican-dominated legislature, such as pro-life legislation to protect human life in the womb from 20 weeks gestation. Governor Rick Perry, in fact, had to call two Special Sessions to deal specifically with this issue. In the Second Special Session, House Bill 2 (HB2), the Pre-Born Pain Act, was finally passed. Bills with similar language had been held up in committee in both the Regular and first Special Sessions.
It is for this reason, along with many other conservative pieces of legislation held up in committee during the 83rd Session, that several right-of-center groups are urging constituents to contact their Representatives and ask them to vote for Scott Turner, who has promised to place true conservatives in key committee positions for the benefit of passing key conservative legislation in the upcoming 84th Session. Another reason is to send a message to elected officials that they too, can be replaced, if they don’t keep in mind the will of the people.
The Empower Texans Foundation published “The Joe Straus Record” pointing out that “five Straus loyalists” lost in the 2014 primaries, including one committee chair and two committee vice chairs: Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving), Diane Patrick (R-Arlington), Ralph Sheffield (R-Temple), Lance Gooden (R-Terrell), and Bennett Ratliff (R-Carrollton). There were several other “Straus loyalists” who retired from the House. Several Tea Party groups across the State worked very hard to replace members of the House whom right-of-center constituents viewed as RINOs (Republicans in Name Only); and they have vowed to continue their work to clean house.
In closing, Flynn counseled, “Compromise is not an ugly word. We have the greatest State and Nation in the world and it’s because we’ve been able to sit down and work things out together.” He then admonished, “The greatest strength of the Republicans is also our greatest weakness… our independence.”