Fellow Republicans recruit State Rep. Dennis Bonnen to run for Texas House speaker


By Cassandra Pollock and Alex Samuels

State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, said Tuesday he is officially running for speaker of the Texas House — two days after an Oct. 28 meeting in Austin, where roughly 40 GOP House members gathered to discuss recruiting him for the job.

“Throughout my career in the House, I have always emphasized my respect for the institution as a whole as well as the unique position each member has to serve their district,” Bonnen said in a statement. “I look forward to the many conversations to come with members across the state. My desire, which I believe I share with the vast majority of my colleagues, is that this process come to a conclusion with a House ready to do the people’s business with strength, resolve, and unity in the 86th Legislative Session.”

News of Bonnen launching a bid for speaker also comes two days after state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, announced he was withdrawing from the race. On Monday, Bonnen said in a statement to The Texas Tribune that he was "honored that many of my colleagues have met and decided that I should consider running for Speaker," adding that he intended "to make an announcement soon about my intentions”

Bonnen previously had told the Tribune in May that he was not interested in running for the top slot in the lower chamber, but said in his statement Tuesday that “after thoughtful consideration with my family, I have decided to heed the call of many of my colleagues.”

He enters a race that already includes several Republicans and one Democrat to replace retiring House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican:

State Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound

State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford

State Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches

State Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo

State Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo

State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas

Bonnen is joining the race ahead of a House GOP caucus meeting scheduled for Dec. 1, when members are expected to coalesce behind the group’s preferred pick for speaker. Prior to this year’s primaries, House Republicans pushed incumbents and candidates to sign a form promising to ultimately support the caucus pick. Parker, Price and King have signed the form, while Bonnen, Clardy and Darby have not. The full 150-member House will vote on its next leader on the first day of the 86th legislative session.

Bonnen, a high-ranking lieutenant for Straus, has been in the House since 1997, and is chairman of the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee. Last year, he spearheaded the House's work on a property tax bill, which was one of Gov. Greg Abbott's top priorities.

The effort ultimately ended in a stalemate with the Senate. A key sticking point between the chambers was whether the the threshold requiring voter approval of property tax increases should be at the 6 percent preferred by the House or the 4 percent preferred by the Senate.

Bonnen's older brother is Republican state Rep. Greg Bonnen of Friendswood.

This article originally appeared at The Texas Tribune.

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