State Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, announced his candidacy for speaker of the Texas House of Representatives last Monday, joining three other Republicans and one Democrat also angling for a seat that hasn’t been open in 10 years.
“I think the state of Texas, which is now the 10th-largest economy in the world, deserves someone who can be there and do this job,” Clardy said. “I’m at a place in my life where I’m passionate about the future of Texas. I am prepared to do this, and I think I can be a good spokesperson for the Texas House.”
Speaker elections take place Jan. 8, the first day of Texas’ next legislative session. If elected, Clardy would succeed current House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio who announced last fall he wouldn’t seek re-election.
“It’s been decades since someone has left the Speaker’s office on his own terms,” Straus said in a statement. “But we have accomplished what I hoped the House would accomplish when I first entered this office, and I am increasingly eager to contribute to our state in new and different ways.”
Clardy spoke favorably of Straus and said he hopes to continue many aspects of his legacy. However, Clardy said he would encourage a more orderly environment under his own speakership.
“There were times, I think, that we needed more direction, more discipline,” Clardy said. ”But I think that would come from the membership and not in a top-down, dictatorial way, but by working together, fostering positive environments and being respectful to one another.”
Although the Texas House speaker campaign receives less attention than other high-profile races since it’s voted on by the members of the House, Taylor Frontera, president of UT College Republicans, said it’s still crucial for voters to pay attention.
“The Speaker is the railroad engineer of the Texas House train,” Frontera said. “That engineer should be one with extensive experience and leadership in numerous state committees and knowledge of national policies and international relations.”
Joshua Blank, manager of polling and research at the Texas Politics Project, said people tend to underestimate the influence of the Texas speakership.
“It’s a very powerful position,” Blank said. “When it comes right down to it, the speaker of the Texas House is going to have much more influence on the day-to-day lives of Texans than one U.S. senator out of 100 is going to have.”