Who’s Gonna Get Ten Million Dollars?

Yes, ten million. That’s how much money Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus has in the bank. As of the most recent reports, Speaker Straus has approximately $10,039,844 in his campaign account.

Straus announced today he will not seek re-election as Speaker or to the Texas House of Representatives. More than 75 county GOP organizations, Tea Parties, and other conservative groups have voted to censure Straus. Also, Republican House members appear to be on the verge of agreeing to vote as a caucus when they elect their next Speaker. Many political insiders believe this sort of caucus vote would likely have ended Straus’ controversial reign.

Similarly, State Representative Byron Cook, one of Straus’ top lieutenants, also announced today he will not seek re-election to the Texas House. Cook was facing a tough primary rematch with conservative Corsicana businessman Thomas McNutt. Cook currently has more than a quarter of a million dollars in his campaign account (approximately $256,592).

So what will happen to all that cash?

There are several possibilities. First, Straus and Cook might decide to hold onto the money in case either decides to run again, even for a different office. It has been rumored that Straus, a known liberal Republican, is considering switching parties to become a Democrat in order to challenge Governor Greg Abbott. Notably, in his announcement today, Straus did not rule out running for higher office.

Second, they can give it to other candidates or PACs, effectively rewarding those who were loyal to them during their tenure in the House. With so much money at stake, Straus and Cook could have quite an impact on the 2018 primary races.

Third, they can give the money to the Republican party, to the Texas treasury to fund primary campaigns, to certain charities, or even to a college or university to fund a scholarship.

Last but not least, they can return the money to the donors who gave it. But don’t hold your breath.


Our Capitol Crowd series outlines and highlights the politicians, advocacy groups, and donors that have the biggest impact in the Austin bubble.

Read More Case Studies