We know one thing for certain: the San Antonio native and likely new Speaker is one hellava operator. Lining up the Democrats, including Craddick-partisan Helen Giddings,Â to vote as a bloc while peeling away 16 Republicans (among them,Â former Craddick supporter Dan Branch)Â is one of the most stunning feats in the often-stunning history of Texas politics.Â
On the media side, let’s give some credit to Texas Monthly,Â which picked Straus in February, 2008, as one of 35 people who would shape the future of Texas. After the jump, what the magazine wrote:
The ideological pendulum at the Lege is swinging, finally and inevitably, back toward the center, so moderate Republicans–the golden-cheeked warblers of Texas politics–may soon reemerge as a force to be reckoned with. When that happens, we’re betting on this pedigreed, patrician lawmaker from tony District 121 (Alamo Heights, Olmos Park) to be in the thick of things. The son of San Antonio grandee and GOP stalwart Jocelyn Straus, Joe III studied political science at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, before taking low-level staff jobs in the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations. A principal in the insurance firm of Watson, Mazur, Bennett, and Straus, he had never run for office before vying for a seat vacated by a Railroad Commission appointee in 2005; he beat three challengers, including a former Texas Supreme Court justice, to win a special election, and was reelected with ease last year. Genial and pragmatic, he’s a proponent of low taxes, economic growth, and other totems of fiscal conservatism, but he’s no friend to hectoring social conservatives–and he’s all for lowering the level of anger at the Capitol. He’s also one of the rare pols who see their time in office as public service. Imagine that. Even better, imagine a world in which everyone saw it that way.