FARMERS BRANCH, Texas — Grassroots conservative groups said state House Speaker Dennis Bonnen could cost Republicans the 2020 election in Texas, if he does not leave office before next November.
“It’s fine and wonderful that Dennis Bonnen has declared he will not run for re-election but Republican leadership needs to understand this; if Dennis Bonnen is left in place as speaker going into 2020, he becomes the poster child for Democrats pointing to the Republican Party and saying ‘This is the party of corruption in Texas.’ They need to take care of it,” said JoAnn Fleming, Grassroots America.
In a secret recording by conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan from Empower Texans this summer, Speaker Bonnen offered to give Sullivan press credentials to get on the House floor next session if Sullivan would campaign against 10 moderate House members. In addition, Bonnen slammed colleagues from both parties on the recording.
Prosecutors said Bonnen did not violate the law and the speaker has since apologized. He said he would not run for re-election to the Texas House of Representatives.
Still, Sullivan and other conservative groups said Bonnen is a drag on the party which is likely to have its most competitive election in years.
“For as long as Dennis Bonnen remains on the speaker’s dais, literally or metaphorically as holding the office, Dennis Bonnen is going to be a drain on the Republican Party and anyone associated with the Republican Party,” said Sullivan.
Calls for Bonnen’s resignation came as grassroots conservatives gathered in Farmer’s Branch Wednesday to ask Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special legislative session.
The regular legislative session ended in May and was widely seen as successful. Homeowners got relief from rapidly rising property taxes and the state finally chipped in more money for public schools.
But grassroots conservatives said many of their priorities were ignored by Republican leaders.
Wednesday afternoon, the Lone Star Agenda Coalition of Statewide Leaders, a collection of 13 conservative groups in Texas, gathered to reiterate their demands.
Among other things, they want actual cuts to property taxes, and they insist that the state along with county election administrators clean up their voter databases by removing felons, deceased individuals, and non-citizens from the rolls.
Six weeks ago, the coalition sent Governor Abbott a letter, asking that he call the legislature back to Austin for a special session to address their priorities.
Wednesday afternoon, after they said they got no response from the governor’s office, the groups went public with their demands, including a new speaker of the House.
The governor’s office did not immediately return a message from WFAA either.
More on WFAA:
- Inside Texas Politics: Even on the way out, why Speaker Bonnen remains powerful
- Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen won't face criminal prosecution, Brazoria County DA says
- House Speaker Bonnen will not seek reelection after release of audio tape in corruption allegations
- Inside Texas Politics: Can House Speaker Dennis Bonnen survive the release of the secret audio tape?
- Secret audio recording of Texas House Speaker released