Editorial: For state and party, Bonnen should resign as speaker of Texas House

Dennis Bonnen is still playing games.

After all that has transpired since the hour or so he and and another top lawmaker spent “deal-making” with bomb-throwing activist Michael Quinn Sullivan, one would think Bonnen might be tiring of games.

But one would be wrong, at least based on what we have heard from some who were inside the room at an Austin resort where the House GOP caucus met Friday. It was there that Bonnen, the Republican speaker of the Texas House who apparently was willing to throw fellow Republican representatives overboard for personal power, showed us he is still playing.

In a meeting where he might instead have indicated he was more concerned about his party and his state than about increasing his own power, he instead threw a resolution before the assembled representatives that asked them to vote on his resignation.

Of course many of them want it, but not like that.

But Bonnen is right. It is time for him to step down. We will leave it up to the good people of Angleton to decide in the next election if they want to continue to be represented by a politician who has dishonored himself, their community, the House and the Texas Republican party with his shady backroom talk.

Whatever those voters decide, Bonnen should never again hold a position of leadership in the Legislature. He has proven himself unfit for a job in which the public must place its trust, and he now further imperils his party’s tenuous hold on the House of Representatives.

Sullivan is anything but clean in this matter but not an elected official and, thus, not subject to the same standard. It has never been likely he could get elected to any office. If you are an honest dealer, you might want to avoid Sullivan as a confidant or friend but that’s a personal matter.

What has drawn much of the attention around East Texas is Bonnen’s offer of turning Sullivan’s guns on state Rep. Travis Clardy of Nacogdoches and nine other lawmakers. That would not be such a strange discussion between two Republicans, except for the fact Clardy and the others targeted also are Republicans.

Clardy, it should be noted, is well respected by members of both parties. He is a leader himself and announced a candidacy for the speaker’s position that Bonnen later won. It could be Bonnen wants to rid himself of a possible contender before the next session.

Otherwise, getting rid of Clardy makes absolutely no sense and would be counterproductive. While we would guess Republicans retain control of the state House, a switch of nine seats would give the majority to the Democrats.

That means Bonnen’s suggestion would help the opposing party, which may be less important to him than continuing to hang onto the ship of state like a barnacle.

Unfortunately, that was not even the most egregious part of the recorded conversation. Bonnen also made clear his contempt for locally elected officials. Indeed, there were many attempts in the last legislative session to remove power from cities and counties, which indicates this was no idle chatter. Clardy is likely on Bonnen’s hit list because he supports local control.

What happened to the Republican principle of keeping power away from a centralized government and returning it to the grassroots? Apparently, it has been subverted by Bonnen and other top Republican elected officials.

Of course speaker has always been a political post, and politics is not a gentle pursuit. But rarely has the post targeted members of the speaker’s own party or carried out vendettas against local government.

Bonnen has obviously lost his way through the political maze, and that is reason enough for us to suggest he step down.

Today's Bible verse

“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”

Proverbs 29:11

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