According to Biedermann, his exit is due in part to a list of preferred speaker candidates the caucus intends to release and a desire for political independence from any one group.
“I feel so strongly about the need for open communication and unity that I decided to leave the Freedom Caucus and not have ties to any group,” Biedermann said in a statement.
He continued, “My goal for the past six months has been to bring the [House Republican] Caucus together and heal the damage caused by Speaker Bonnen and build back the trust that was lost. I believe we need to unite the Caucus in order to choose a Speaker committed to changing the culture of the House.”
According to sources familiar with the situation, over 40 Republican members convened last Sunday to discuss the speaker’s race — more than half of the returning caucus members.
“We have a unique opportunity in the Republican Caucus to choose a new speaker, and it should not be done with backroom deals or secret meetings,” Biedermann added, citing past and current efforts to consolidate support for a GOP speaker candidate.
According to Biedermann, the intra-GOP divide has formed “two main factions in the caucus, ‘Team Texas’ and ‘Team Bonnen,’ that are vying to have the next Speaker come out of their group.”
Republican state representative nominee Bryan Slaton, whose victory in the GOP primary runoff in a safely red district all but solidified his ascension to the Texas House, referred to these two groups in an opinion editorial with Texas Scorecard in which he shares Biedermann’s preference for a speaker candidate not part of either sect.
Biedermann further emphasized, “It is unlikely that either group would vote for a candidate from the other group. This is why I believe the next Speaker needs to be someone independent from the two groups in order to unite the caucus.”
He further confirmed that he doesn’t support a candidate from either group at this time.
“There was consensus that the next meeting needed to focus on healing the wounds,” referring to soon-to-be-former Speaker Bonnen’s quid pro quo scandal, “and vetting potential speaker candidates in an open setting.”
With the exit of Biedermann, the group is down to a mere eight members with Reps. Mike Lang (R-Granbury) and Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) retiring from the legislature.
Last session, Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) abruptly left the Freedom Caucus over differences with the group’s decision to play ball with House leadership rather than push back on the GOP establishment’s agenda.
During the interim, the group gained a member when Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) joined back in April.
Republicans still maintain the majority in the Texas House, but if Democrats further close the gap that slimmed in 2018 after next week’s general election, a divided Republican caucus would give the opposing party more political leverage.
The Texas Freedom Caucus had not returned a request for comment regarding the alleged list of candidates by the time of publishing.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.