Embattled Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced Tuesday he is not seeking re-election to the House. He has not given up his leadership position, but will not be seeking another term.
Bonnen is the first speaker to serve in the position for one year in more than 45 years. His predecessors held the position for at least 10 years each.
Since a secret recording was made public of Bonnen’s meeting with Empower Texans’ CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan, more than 30 House Republicans called for his resignation and/or said they no longer supported him.
“Since Friday, I have had numerous conversations with Members who care deeply about the Texas House, and I respect the manner in which they have handled this entire situation, Bonnen said in a statement released Tuesday. “After much prayer, consultation, and thoughtful consideration with my family, it is clear that I can no longer seek re-election as State Representative of District 25, and subsequently, as Speaker of the House. I care deeply about this body and the work we have accomplished over the years, namely, the outstanding success we achieved in the 86th Legislature.”
He then lists 43 colleagues he said persuaded him to make the decision.
Sullivan’s recording of the private June 12 meeting he had with Bonnen and former Republican Caucus Chairman Dustin Burrows shows that the Empower Texas leader was asked to target Republican members of the House in next year’s primaries in exchange for receiving media credentials for his staff.
Bonnen’s announcement came less than 12 hours after five of his key supporters released a joint statement Monday night supporting his resignation. Four of them Bonnen appointed to powerful committees: Amarillo’s Four Price heads the Calendars Committee, Houston’s Dan Huberty chairs the Public Education Committee, San Antonio’s Lyle Larson heads the Natural Resources Committee, and Marshall’s Chris Paddie leads the Energy Resources Committee.
“As long-serving members of the Texas House, we informed Speaker Bonnen earlier today that we no longer support him as our Speaker,” they said in a joint statement released Monday night. “It is clear that trust and confidence in the Speaker has significantly eroded among our membership, and the matter has both damaged the reputation of the House and relationships among individual members.”
The statement was sent out by Republican consultant Allen Blakemore on behalf of Huberty, who is also a consultant for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
“This a sad day for Texas,” Sullivan said in a statement. “And this is a good day for Texas.
“Dennis Bonnen could have behaved ethically from the start in his dealings with his fellow lawmakers, with me, and with the Texas public. He could have recanted his unethical offer privately when given the opportunity. He instead chose lies, deceit, dishonor, and – ultimately – ruin. He has gone from the third-ranking constitutional officer in Texas to a cautionary tale about the dangers of political hubris.”
Democrat Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said that, “Texans are tired of politicians, like Republican Speaker Bonnen, who use backroom deals, cover-ups and outright lies to pursue power over everything. Now more than ever, it is clear that only the election of Texas Democrats will return of ethics and good governance to our great state.”
Democrats are eying nine seats to take control of the House. Depending on which party receives the majority, a new speaker will be chosen by the House in 2021.
This article was first published by The Center Square.