Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is not running for re-election in 2018.
Despite announcing earlier this year that he would seek a record sixth term in office, the San Antonio Republican announced Wednesday that he would not.
“Five terms is a long time,” he said during a press conference broadcast from his office in the Texas Capitol. “I’m going out on my own terms. I feel good about that.”
Straus said he’s proud of his record while in office and will serve the remaining 14 months of his term.
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“I think the time is right for me,” he said. “I know it is for my family.”
Straus has long been seen as a moderate Republican at a time when more conservative leaders, such as Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, have been elected to office.
During his tenure, he has drawn criticism from members of his own party for everything from opposing the controversial bathroom bill earlier this year to working with Republicans and Democrats alike.
Abbott was quick to sent out a statement.
“Joe Straus has served with distinction for both the people in his district and for the Texas House of Representatives,” he said. “I thank Speaker Straus for his service and for his commitment to the State of Texas.”
The house speaker is not a statewide elected post. On the first day of each legislative session, House members choose the person to guide the lower chamber.
Texas Democrats were quick to weigh in on the news.
“The Republican Party is dead,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement. “Compassionate conservatism is no more and Trumpism has infected every corner of the Grand Ole Party.”
Straus was first elected speaker in 2009.
That was the year 11 members known as the “Anybody But Craddick” Republicans met privately to determine the best way to oust Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, who had ruled the House with an iron fist for three sessions.
They united behind one candidate, Straus, and teamed up with a number of House Democrats, who then held nearly half of the chamber’s 150 seats. Craddick knew he didn’t have the votes to win and dropped out of the race.
Straus admits it was an “unorthodox” way to seek a post he never really had considered seeking. But he’s proud of the work accomplished during his tenure.
“I try to bring people together,’ he said. “I do make no apology for trying to work across party lines.
“I think Washington could take lessons from the Texas House when we are at our best.”
Straus said he plans to remain politically involved and hasn’t ruled out a future bid for another political office.
State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, was among the dozen ABC Republicans who helped elect Straus. He has remained one of his chief lieutenants and close friends with him since.
He and state Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, were the only two remaining ABC Republicans in office. Cook also announced Wednesday that he won’t seek re-election.
But Geren, who spoke with Straus Wednesday morning before the speaker made his decision public, is still seeking re-election next year.
He said he told Straus he didn’t agree with his decision to not run.
“But I respect his decision,” he said. “I’m sure the House will pick a good leader. The 150 members of the House have struggled through this many times before and they will agree on someone.”
State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, earlier this year filed paperwork to let him pursue a bid and is exploring a bid for the speaker’s office.
No matter who wins, Geren said the House will be a much different place.
“I’m going to miss not serving with Joe,” he said. “I was shocked. But everybody has their life span down here and when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”