Today, former Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus announced the creation of a new PAC, called Texas Forever Forward.
Straus’s campaign PAC, Texans for Joe Straus, will donate $2.5 million to the organization. Straus will serve as chairman, while former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson will fill the role of treasurer.
In 2016, Jefferson was rumored to be in the running for a U.S. Supreme Court nomination if Hillary Clinton had claimed the presidency. Appointed by then-Governor Rick Perry, he was the first African-American justice and chief justice to serve on the Texas Supreme Court.
As of the last reporting period, Texans for Joe Straus boasted over $7.9 million cash on hand.
According to the press release announcing its creation, Texas Forever Forward will aim to “promote a thoughtful, conservative approach to governing and rising political leaders ready to ensure a bright future for all Texans.”
On the PAC’s website, seven guiding principles are listed that will determine the direction of the organization.
Public education is listed as the first priority, followed by enhancing higher education opportunities, promoting inclusive, non-discriminatory workplace policies, investing in infrastructure, improving behavioral health treatment, advocating for governmental transparency, and strengthening democratic participation.
Straus stepped down as Speaker of the House in 2017 after 10 years and five terms in the position, making him one of the longest-serving speakers in Texas history and the longest-serving Republican speaker.
Often elected by the entirety of the House Democratic caucus and a portion of the Republican Caucus, Straus made headlines when he was censured by both the Texas Republican Party executive committee, as well as by his own county party in Bexar County.
Straus was known for criticizing conservative Republicans, particularly members of the Freedom Caucus, for being too “self-limiting” while praising other more moderate members and even Democrats for their “responsible” approaches.
During the 85th legislative session, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick was frequently at odds with Straus. By the end of the session, it was apparent there was no love lost between the two state leaders. In fact, Patrick told the Texas Tribune, “It’s just clear [Straus] is not much of a conservative — and it’s beginning to look like he’s not much of a Republican.”
It remains to be seen how Texas Forever Forward will leverage its funds going into 2020, though the PAC will certainly be under scrutiny as campaign season heats up.
McKenzie Taylor serves as Operations Manager and resident plate-spinner for The Texan. Previously, she worked as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.