Fallout From Speaker Selection Process Threatens Incumbent Texas Republicans

The House Republican party has put a spotlight on itself in recent weeks beginning with the unprecedented move by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz to remove Speaker Mike McCarthy (R-CA) from his post. Republicans were unable to come to a consensus vote to replace McCarthy for more than two weeks, leaving the House unable to conduct business. Three powerful Texas Republicans face challengers for their seats in 2024 who are sure to call attention to the reasons for each member’s votes through the replacement process.

Representing a large region of Southern Texas, Rep. Tony Gonzalez (R-TX) has seen firsthand the carnage caused by Democrat’s so-called “humane” border policies. His Latino-majority district floats the line between liberal policies and conservative beliefs, so it is little surprise that Gonzalez was against the selection of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) whose pro-MAGA stance doesn’t resonate well in Southwest Texas.

Gonzalez has backed bills that codified gay marriage into law, supported anti-gun legislation in the wake of the Robb Elementary massacre, and publically denounced an immigration bill that would have helped stem the flood of illegal immigrants crashing the southern border. In some parts of Texas, these votes might have been a political death sentence, but the San Antonio region Gonzalez represents might be less likely to endorse a more radical candidate.

Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) has been in the hot seat for years with voters in Fort Worth, a major city that shares a boundary with Dallas. Granger’s problems revolve around a mixed-use development project called Panther Island that has been investigated for fraud and abuse for years. At one point in time, Granger’s son was the lead project manager, creating an issue of apparent nepotism.

Granger’s district is much more MAGA-friendly than Gonzalez’s district, but her air of superiority and constant questions about the efficacy of decision-making in the Fort Worth region are sure to fuel opposition candidates. Granger’s public statements against the Trump 2020 campaign may have faded from voters’ memories, but the two Republicans challenging her seat are sure to use the secretly recorded comments against her in 2024.

One of the most junior members of the House, Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-TX) was only elected in 2021 through a special election to replace deceased Rep. Ron Wright. Ellzey represents one of the most staunchly Republican regions of middle Texas, but only narrowly won the special election in a field of 23 individuals with 10 Democrats seeking to steal the seat. Ellzey refused to support Jordan in his quest to become the speaker. He explained his reasoning by pointing to the fact that Jordan is a far-right Republican who would be unlikely to accomplish the cross-aisle deal-making that will need to be done.

All three Republicans are members of the House Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful committees in Congress. Challengers for their seats could effectively disrupt power in the state of Texas and simultaneously erode Republican control of federal spending. Ultimately, the decisions these three members made in the replacement of the speaker are likely to fuel challengers who will look to capitalize on apparent weaknesses.