The Jewish leader of Texas’ State House of Representatives helped crush an anti-transgender “bathroom bill,” cementing his reputation as a moderate Republican in a state where the party has increasingly drifted rightward.
“I’m not embarrassed to say that I know how to govern without being an extremist,” House Speaker Joe Straus told the New York Times in July, when the bathroom bill was in hot contention and the far-right was calling for his ouster.
The so-called bathroom bill was the pet idea of lieutenant governor Dan Patrick, who convinced governor Greg Abbott to call a special session in the summer for the legislature to consider the matter and other far-right priorities.
Straus effectively killed the bill, and other items around taxes and spending on the Abbott agenda, leading the governor to publicly place the speaker in the cross-hairs.
“There’s no evidence he’s going to change his mind on it, and that’s why elections matter,” Abbott said in a radio interview after the bathroom bill’s failure.
Straus, who has been speaker for eight years and comes from a family of wealthy Republican fundraisers, has shrugged off the threat.