Entering the race for Texas House Speaker with a solid vote commitment from 109 House representatives, which included 28 Democrats, Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) easily won the state speaker’s race last January replacing retiring five-term House Speaker Joe Straus. After having a relatively tame legislative session this past spring, scandal erupted during the summer when Bonnen, his fellow House colleague, Rep. Dustin Burrows, and Michael Quinn Sullivan, a conservative activist and head of Empower Texas, met behind closed doors. In the meeting, Bonnen offered Sullivan’s group media access to the House floor if Sullivan promised to limit his spending in the upcoming Republican primary to ten GOP lawmakers. In addition, the three spoke disparagingly about several Democrats, and making the next legislative session the “worst in history for cities and counties.”
Since then, Republicans and Democrats have called on the speaker to resign. With five of the House’s most influential Republicans announcing they could no longer support Bonnen, other Republicans followed suit. On October 22, Rep. Bonnen released a statement stating, “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.” With his resignation, it is uncertain the effect this will have on the 2020 Texas House race and speakership, particularly with the sweep of Democrats-controlled seats from the 2018 race.