John Zerwas Dustin Burrows Dade Phelan Trey Martinez Fischer

April 23, 2019

Bonnen House Has Deeper Shade of Blue in 2019
as Lawmakers on Both Sides of Aisle Rise and Fall

Texas Senate Power Rankings

By Mike Hailey

Eddie Lucio III, Oscar Longoria and Terry Canales
 
Power Rise 2019 2017 Net
Dustin Burrows 2 76 +74
Eddie Rodriguez 15 76 +61
Tom Craddick 17 76 +59
Terry Canales 18 76 +58
Greg Bonnen 20 76 +56
Joe Moody 23 76 +54
Drew Springer 24 76 +52
Jeff Leach 25 76 +52
Craig Goldman 11 63 +52
John Cyrier 28 76 +48
James Frank 38 70 +32
Toni Rose 14 44 +30
Armando Walle 30 56 +26
Chris Paddie 7 32 +25
Poncho Nevárez 29 54 +25
Stephanie Klick 42 76 +24
Tracy King 19 39 +20
       
Power Fall 2019 2017 Net
Todd Hunter 64 3 -61
John Kuempel 76 15 -61
Tan Parker 63 9 -54
Drew Darby 55 5 -50
Richard Raymond 69 19 -50
Trent Ashby 66 20 -46
John Smithee 68 24 -44
Ken King 67 26 -41
Roland Gutierrez 76 45 -31
John Raney 76 49 -27
Abel Herrero 73 47 -26

Editor's Note: House members who weren't ranked in the top 75 in 2017 are listed as 76 for that year on the comparative chart above.

The biennial Capitol Inside analysis of clout at the statehouse this year is a tale of two chambers with Republican leaders who are diametric opposites and a classic study in the spoils of victory and the wages of defeat in the game of thrones inside the Austin beltway.

The drastic contrast between the governing styles of House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is indisputably evident in the Texas Legislature Power Rankings that feature a half-dozen Democrats in the top 15 in the lower chamber where there had been one minority party member rated that high just two years ago. No Democrat is ranked higher than 14th this year across the rotunda where Patrick has been the most partisan presiding officer in modern Texas history.

The Texas Legislature Power Rankings for 2019 have three Democrats listed among the 10 state representatives with the most sway in the lower chamber where the highest rated minority party member had been in the number 12 slot just two years ago. Eight Democrats are ranked among the 20 most powerful lawmakers in the Capitol's west wing - twice the number that appeared that high on the list in 2017 when Bonnen predecessor Joe Straus had been serving his fifth and final term in the dais.

But the bigger story in the size up of sway under the pink granite dome this year centers on the hierarchy upheaval that's taken place in the House since Bonnen claimed the gavel in January. The rankings reflect the monumental rise and fall of Republicans and Democrats on the power chart based largely on their positions in the leadership competition that Bonnen entered last fall just short of the finish line.

Some of the most powerful lieutenants on the Straus leadership team have had their stock plunge after backing one of the two Republicans who'd been the frontrunners in the speaker's contest for several months before Bonnen emerged as a late entrant shortly before the 2018 general election. Some of Straus' top allies have soared up the muscle measuring stick after rallying behind Bonnen as soon as the other co-leader shut down in his campaign for speaker and endorsed the eventual winner in a game-changing development less than a week after the November vote.

The House Republicans who supported State Rep. Drew Darby of San Angelo in the first open speaker's race in 26 years have been stripped of substantial clout as the price of playing for the wrong losing team. But the GOP lawmakers who'd pledged their votes to State Rep. Walter "Four" Price of Amarillo in the leadership scramble have come out like winners in terms of the power they're wielding now even though the speaker candidate they'd preferred fell short as well. Price's team won for all practical purposes when he dropped out of the race and brought his supporters into Bonnen's camp in one sweeping stroke that effectively ended the battle.

GOP State Rep. John Zerwas of Richmond crowns the House power list that doesn't include the speaker by virtue of his role as the lower chamber's chief budget writer in his second regular session as the Appropriations Committee chairman. Zerwas kept the most coveted standing panel chairmanship by pulling the plug on his own campaign for speaker and declaring his support for Bonnen the day that he launched his.

Price, who'd been ranked eighth on the House power list two years ago, has vaulted into the third spot after having his pick of leadership posts and choosing the Calendars Committee chair as Bonnen's most valuable supporter in the race to replace Straus. A pair Republicans who's been in Price's corner - State Reps. Dan Huberty of Humble and Chris Paddie of Marshall - are ranked among the top seven as the leaders of the Public Education Committee and the Energy Resources Committee respectively. Huberty had jumped from the 13th spot in 2017 all the way to number four on the current chart in light of the paramount priority status that public school funding at the Capitol this year.

But the lawmaker who's made the longest leap of all power ladder is State Rep. Dustin Burrows - a Lubbock Republican who'd been one of Bonnen's most instrumental original supporters as the party caucus chief in the House where he's the point person on property taxes in his debut session as the Ways & Means Committee chairman. Burrows committee leadership post came complete with seats on the Legislative Budget Board and the Legislative Audit Committee.

GOP State Rep. Dade Phelan of Beaumont had a pivotal behind-the-scenes part as well in Bonnen's triumphant bid for speaker last fall at a time when Price and Darby were still mistakenly perceived to be the candidates with the highest odds. Phelan hit the jackpot when Bonnen tapped him to chair the State Affairs Committee in a move that's culminated in a fifth-place ranking on the power list for 2019.

  Freshmen
1 Sam Harless
R-Spring
2 John Turner
D-Dallas
3 Carl Sherman
D-DeSoto
4 Brad Buckley
R-Salado
5 Reggie Smith
R-Van Alstyne
6 Sheryl Cole
D-Austin
7 Candy Noble
R-Lucas
8 Steve Allison
R-San Antonio
9 Keith Bell
R-Forney
10 James Talarico
D-Austin
   
   
   
   
  Sophomores
1 Tom Oliverson
R-Cypress
2 Lynn Stucky
R-Sanger
3 Justin Holland
R-Heath
4 Cole Hefner
R-Mt. Pleasant
5 Terry Wilson
R-Marble Falls
6 Jarvis Johnson
D-Houston
7 Steve Toth
R-Woodlands
8 Gina Hinojosa
D-Austin
9 Lina Ortega
D-El Paso
10 Shawn Thierry
D-Houston
   
   
   
   

State Rep. Charlie Geren of Fort Worth is the only Republican who's ranked in the top 10 after holding out on Bonnen until Darby threw in the towel as the speaker contender he'd been supporting. Geren survived the Darby team power downgrading by maintaining a strong relationshp with Bonnen beyond the speaker battle. The new speaker kept him on as the chairman of the Administration Committee that he led throughout Straus' entire 10-year stint as the top House leader.

Some Republicans like State Reps. Craig Goldman of Fort Worth, Drew Springer of Muenster and John Cyrier of Lockhart have flown up the power list after playing pivotal roles in the eleventh-hour annointment of Bonnen as an alternative speaker candidate. Goldman, who's been in the chair in Bonnen's place quite a bit when the House is in session this year, is ranked 11th one spot above GOP State Rep. Lyle Larson of San Antonio. Larson was part of a package deal that came with Price's allegiance shift to Bonnen that brought the competition for speaker to an end.

But Bonnen appeared to be reading the handwriting on the seawall from a blue wave at the ballot box when he rebuilt the House power pyramid with more Democrats near the pinnacle than Straus had in any one of his five terms as speaker. The House power rankings had one Democrat on average in the top 10 during the past decade with Straus at the helm in a chamber where conservatives hammered him relentlessly as a liberal leader who'd been indebted to his minority party colleagues since his first leadership race win in 2009.

A trio of Democrats - State Reps. Oscar Longoria of La Joya, Chris Turner of Grand Prairie and Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio - round out the top 10 this time around for a variety of reasons that are similar in some respects and different in others. Longoria wields immense sway as the Appropriations Committee vice-chairman who alsoi leads the subcommittee that oversees spending on public safety, the judiciary and general government agencies like the governor's office. Longoria landed a coveted seat on the Calendars Committee that Bonnen has elevated in status to a league that's arguably higher than the budget panel on which the Rio Grande Valley lawmaker is the second highest-ranking member.

One of the biggest surprises on Bonnen's first leadership team has been Turner's selection as the Higher Education Committee chairman in addition to an assignment to the number two spot on the Redistricting Committee. The plums from a Republican speaker are highly significant in light of the fact that Turner is the leader of the House Democratic Caucus.

Martinez Fischer - a veteran lawmaker who's back after a two-year hiatus in the wake of an unsuccessful state Senate bid - appeared to be almost as critical to Bonnen's election as speaker as Price had been before gaining an appointment from the new speaker as the Business & Industry Committee chair along with a seat on the Ways & Means Committee.

Bonnen claimed an unofficial victory with an initial pledge list that included more than 50 Democrats among 109 names. But Bonnen didn't have a sufficient number of Republicans in his camp until he'd demonstrated the ability to split the Democrats who'd been planning to vote as a singular bloc for a leadership hopeful who'd been more moderate on paper.

The Democrats in the lower chamber never thought that they could fare as well under any Republican speaker than they had under Straus. A San Antonio Republican who didn't seek re-election last year in his hometown district, Straus had one Democrat ranked in the Capitol Inside top 10, six Democrats in the top 20 and 11 rated among the 30 representatives with the most clout in the House during his initial term as speaker in 2019.

But Democrats occupied only six of the top 30 spots on average during Straus' decade at the wheel. A dozen Democrats are ranked among the 30 lawmakers with the most sway in the west wing with Bonnen swinging the gavel now. While Bonnen and Straus have comparable numbers when it comes to the partisan division of committee chairs and other plum assignments. But more Democrats are ranked in higher echelons of power as a function of the quality of the leadership posts that Bonnen dished out early this year.

The rewards and punishment in a political arena where speaker races are litmus tests of loyalty is on display near the lower ranks of the top 75 in the House with some major Straus lieutenants can be found as outcasts based on their assignments in 2019. The group of Republicans whose stock has plunged in the Bonnen House includes State Reps. Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi, John Kuempel of Seguin, Trent Ashby of Lufkin and Tan Parker of Flower Mound had all been ranked among the 10 or 20 of the House's most powerful members in 2017 before falling out of the top 50 now based on the assignments they received from Bonnen.

 

47 Harold Dutton
D-Houston
Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Chair, Public Education
48 Scott Sanford
R-McKinney
Ways & Means, Public Education, Administration
49 J.D. Sheffield
R-Gatesville
Appropriations Subcommittee Vice Chair, Public Health
50 Rick Miller
R-Sugar Land
Appropriations Subcommittee Vice Chair, Resolutions Calendars Vice Chair, Human Services
51 Cecil Bell
R-Magnolia
Appropriations Subcommittee Vice Chair, Land & Resource Management
52 Donna Howard
D-Austin
Appropriations, Administration Vice Chair, Public Education
53 Mary Gonzalez
D-Clint
Appropriations, Local & Consent Calendars Vice Chair, Public Education
54 Gary VanDeaver
R-New Boston
Appropriations, Public Education
55 Drew Darby
R-San Angelo
Business & Indusry Vice Chair, Energy Resources, Legislative Budget Board
56 Gene Wu
D-Houston
Appropriations Subcommittee Vice Chair, Pensions Investments & Financial Services
57 Ina Minjarez
D-San Antonio
Appropriations, Land & Resource Management, Redistricting
58 Philip Cortez
D-San Antonio
Appropriations, Elections Vice Chair, Resolutions Calendars
59 Matt Schaefer
R-Tyler
Appropriations, Higher Education
60 Diego Bernal
D-San Antonio
Public Education Vice Chair, Transportation, Local & Consent Calendars
61 Alma Allen
D-Houston
Corrections Vice Chair, Public Education, Legislative Reference Library Board
62 Ana Hernandez
D-Houston
State Affairs Vice Chair, Licensing & Administrative Procedures
63 Tan Parker
R-Flower Mound
State Affairs, Administration,
Business & Commerce
64 Todd Hunter
R-Corpus Christi
State Affairs,
Criminal Juriprudence
65 Dwayne Bohac
R-Houston
County Affairs Vice Chair, Ways & Means
66 Trent Ashby
R-Lufkin
Public Education, Defense & Veterans Affairs/td>
67 Ken King
R-Canadian
Public Education, Licensing &
Administrative Procedures
68 John Smithee
R-Amarillo
State Affairs, Higher Education
69 Richard Raymond
D-Laredo
State Affairs, Agriculture & Livestock
70 Matt Shaheen
R-Plano
Urban Affairs Vice Chair, Ways & Means
71 Bobby Guerra
D-Mission
State Affairs, Public Health
72 Ed Thompson
R-Pearland
Environmental Regulation Vice Chair, Administration, Transportation
73 Abel Herrero
D-Robstown
Energy Resources Vice Chair, Licensing & Administrative Procedures
74 Charles "Doc" Anderson
R-Waco
Agriculture & Livestock Vice Chair, Administration, County Affairs
75 Matt Krause
R-Fort Worth
Transportation, Redistricting, General Investigating, Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence
  2019 TEXAS HOUSE
POWER RANKINGS

Committee Assignments
and Special Positions
1 John Zerwas
R-Houston
Appropriations Chair, Legislative Budget Board, Legislative Audit Committee, Legislative Reference Library Board, Budget Conference Committee Chair
2 Dustin Burrows
R-Lubbock
Ways & Means Chair, Elections, Legislative Budget Board, Legislative Audit Committee, Republican Caucus Chair
3 Walter "Four" Price
R-Amarillo
Calendars Chair, Natural Resources, Public Health, Redistricting, Speaker Race MVP
4 Dan Huberty
R-Houston
Public Education Chair, County Affairrs
5 Dade Phelan
R-Beaumont
State Affairs Chair, Speaker Race Star
6 Charlie Geren
R-Fort Worth
Administration Chair, Energy Resources, Licensing & Administrative Procedures
7 Chris Paddie
R-Marshall
Energy Resources Chair, Licensing & Administrative Procedures, Redistricting
8 Oscar Longoria
D-Harlingen
Appropriations Vice Chair, Appropriations Subcommittee Chair, Calendars, Pensions Investments & Financial Services, Legislative Budget Board, Budget Conference Committee
9 Chris Turner
D-Grand Prairie
Higher Education Chair, Redistricting Vice Chair, Insurance, Democratic Caucus Chair
10 Trey Martinez Fischer
D-San Antonio
Business & Industry Chair, Ways & Means, Speaker Race Star
11 Craig Goldman
R-Fort Worth
Calendars, Licensing & Administrative Procedures Vice Chair, Transportation, Speaker Race Star
12 Lyle Larson
R-San Antonio
Natural Resources Chair, Redistricting, International Relations & Economic Development
13 Rafael Anchia
D-Dallas
International Relations & Economic Development Chair, Energy Resources, Administration, Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chair
14 Toni Rose
D-Dallas
Appropriations Subcommittee Chair, Calendars, Human Services, Redistricting, Democratic Caucus Vice Chair
15 Eddie Rodriguez
D-Austin
Calendars, Ways & Means, State Affairs
16 Senfronia Thompson
D-Houston
Public Health Chair, Licensing & Administrative Procedures, Redistricting
17 Tom Craddick
R-Midland
Land & Resource Management Chair, Energy Resources, Former House Speaker
18 Terry Canales
D-Edinburg
Transportation Chair, Land & Resource Management
19 Tracy King
D-Uvalde
Licensing & Administrative Procedures Chair, Natural Resources
20 Greg Bonnen
R-Friendswood
Appropriations Subcommittee Chair, Insurance
21 Sarah Davis
R-Houston
Appropriations Subcommittee Chair, Insurance
22 Morgan Meyer
R-Dallas
General Investigating Chair, Public Education, Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, Speaker Race Star
23 Joe Moody
D-El Paso
Speaker Pro Tem, Calendars Vice Chair, Redistricting, Business & Industry, Criminal Jurisprudence
24 Drew Springer
R-Muenster
Agriculture & Livestock Chair, State Affairs, Local & Consent Calendars, Speaker Race Star
25 Jeff Leach
R-Midland
Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Chair, Pensions Investments & Financial Services, Redistricting, State Preservation Board
26 J.M Lozano
R-Kingsville
Environmental Regulation Chair, Defense & Veterans Affairs
27 Phil King
R-Weatherford
Redistricting Chair, State Affairs, Criminal Jurisprudence
28 John Cyrier
R-Lockhart
Culture Recreation & Tourism Chair, Pensions & Investments & Financial Services, Redistricting
29 Poncho Nevárez
D-Eagle Pass
Homeland Security & Public Safety Chair, Natural Resources
30 Armando Walle
D-Houston
Appropriations Subcommittee Vice Chair, Higher Education, Redistricting, Local & Consent Calendars, Budget Conference Committee
31 Ryan Guillen
D-Rio Grande City
Resolutions Calendar Chair, Ways & Means Vice Chair, Licensing & Administrative Procedures
32 Eddie Lucio III
D-Brownsville
Insurance Chair, Public Health
33 Nicole Collier
D-Fort Worth
Criminal Jurisprudence Chair, General Investigating Vice Chair, Business & Industry
34 Garnet Coleman
D-Houston
County Affairs Chair, Public Health
35 Geanie Morrison
R-Victoria
Local & Consent Calendars Chair, Environmental Regulation, Culture Recreation & Tourism
36 Dan Flynn
R-Van
Defense & Veterans Affairs Chair, Administration, Pensions Investments & Financial Services
37 James White
R-Hillister
Corrections Chair, Redistricting, Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence
38 James Frank
R-Wichita Falls
Human Services Chair, Public Health
39 Angie Chen Button
R-Garland
Urban Affairs Chair, Higher Education
40 Giovanni Capriglione
R-Friendswood
Appropriations Subcommittee Chair, Pensions Investments & Financial Services
41 Jim Murphy
R-Houston
Pensions Investments & Financial Services Chair, Ways & Means
42 Stephanie Klick
R-Fort Worth
Elections Chair, Human Services, Republican Caucus Vice Chair
43 John Wray
R-Waxahachie
Calendars, Public Health Vice Chair, Ways & Means
44 John Frullo
R-Dallas
Calendars, International Relations & Economic Development Vice Chair, Higher Education
45 Will Metcalf
R-Conroe
Calendars, Natural Resources Vice Chair, International Relations & Economic Development
46 Joe Deshotel
D-Beaumont
Calendars, State Affairs, Human Services

 

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