Rep. Warren Chisum on Speaker fight and issues

Current Speaker of the House Joe Straus (left) Warren Chisum (right)

Redistricting is just one of the top issues lawmakers will be tackling, but the first order of business next week is to choose a Speaker of the House.

Currently, Speaker Joe Straus has all but locked in the votes he needs to repeat in the office, but local Representative Warren Chisum (R) of Pampa is challenging his seat.

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Moderate Republican Joe Straus was elected last session when the Democrats were in power.

Now that the balance of power has switched, Representative Chisum threw his hat in the ring as a more conservative option.

"If we fail to balance the budget and fail to fund schools properly, they're going to blame Republicans they're not going to blame Democrats. So if we're going to take the blame, we ought to be able to make the decisions," he said.

But Straus has all but locked up more than the necessary votes, including those from Democrats, to retain the position.

So, Chisum is following Congress' action, and asking for a GOP Caucus to meet the day before the session starts, and choose a leader from the controlling Republican party.

"It just seems to me," says Chisum, "that the Republicans will also do that so that the Speaker could appoint people he wanted to without saying, 'The Democrats put me in here and I've got to appoint them to leadership positions in the House."

He also notes that it's probably a moot point with the support Straus already has, but he says Republicans should act like Republicans, and take responsibility, because they'll get the blame if the session ends badly.

"Absolutely...but aside from that, we all know that the outside groups had a lot of influence on the last elections this last year and they have some say about who is chosen to be Speaker of the House and they spoke plainly, they believe it ought to be someone other than Straus."