Rating the Texas Speaker Candidates

There are many talking heads, capitol insiders and Tea Party groups labeling the three declared candidates for Speaker of the Texas House as too liberal, to0 moderate, too right wing and so on.

The three declared candidates are current Speaker Joe Straus, Warren Chisum and Ken Paxton.

Luckily for us there are some legitimate third party groups that have ranked the three speaker candidates.  The table below compares the ratings of the three speaker candidates from 2005-2009 when all three were in the Texas House at the same time.  Keep in mind that the third party groups each have their own agenda they are promoting, but it shows a pretty clear picture of each candidate and where they stand on the issues.

Ratings Provided by The Texas Independent

The Texas Independent provided the table above has a good article digging deeper into the data.

Straus received an average rating of 71 from budget conservative group Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, whose leader Michael Quinn Sullivan has been waving a red flag in the battle to topple Straus. Chisum scored 77 while Paxton scored 100 percent with TFR.

Meanwhile, Straus earned the highest rating of the three from the Texas Association of Businesses. Straus scored 94, Chisum 93 and Paxton 92. And the Texas National Federation of Independent Businesses ratings were Straus 73, Chisum 65 and Paxton 100. (Overall, the average of the average scores for business/budget were Straus 79, Chisum 78 and Paxton 97.)

Straus fared decently with two of three conservative groups but was rated poorly by the Heritage Alliance. The Young Conservatives of Texas gave Straus a 70, Chisum a 76 and Paxton a 97; while Americans For Prosperity-Texas gave Straus a 90, Chisum a 86 and Paxton a 99. With the Heritage Alliance, Straus scored 52, Chisum 84 and Paxton 91. (The category average for Straus was 71, Chisum 79 and Paxton 95.)

Environmental groups rated Chisum the best of the three, with Straus and Paxton getting almost identical scores. Environment Texas ratings were Straus 15, Chisum 37 and Paxton 15. Sierra Club-Lone Star Chapter ratings were Straus 7, Chisum 7 and Paxton 8. Texas League of Conservation Voters ratings were Straus 23, Chisum 27 and Paxton 21. (The category average for Straus was 15, Chisum 24 and Paxton 15.)

Straus, Chisum and Paxton each has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund.

On abortion issues, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas has given Straus a rating of 73 (compared to 3 percent each for Chisum and Paxton), including a 100 percent rating in 2007, which has been highlighted by Straus opponents. The 100-percent NARAL rating is misleading, however, as the Dallas Morning News has reported.

In 2007, NARAL rated legislators according to nine votes the group considered to be crucial. Straus only participated with one of the nine votes, favoring an unsuccessful budget amendment that would have shifted $5 million from “pregnancy-crisis centers” to child-abuse prevention efforts. In 2005, NARAL gave Straus a rating of 45.

From anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life, Straus received a rating of 50, compared 100 for Chisum and Paxton. Straus’ score was based on eight votes on two bills in 2005. According to the group, Straus made three votes that weakened a bill banning third-trimester abortions — though he voted to create the ban. Straus also cast a vote against an amendment to a bill regarding parental consent for a minor’s abortion (that would have strengthened the requirement) — though he voted to create the consent requirement and cast two votes against amendments that would have weakened the requirement.

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