- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 25, 2017

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Latest on Texas House speaker Joe Straus‘ surprising announcement that he won’t seek re-election (all times local):

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12:30 p.m.

Gov. Greg Abbott says the retiring Texas House speaker “has served with distinction for both the people in his district and for the Texas House of Representatives.”

Republican Joe Straus shocked the Texas political world by announcing Tuesday that he won’t seek re-election. He will remain in office through next December, but the Legislature isn’t scheduled to return to session until January 2019.

In a statement, Abbott, a fellow Republican, said, “I thank Speaker Straus for his service and for his commitment to the State of Texas.”

Republicans control both chambers of the Texas Legislature but Straus used his powerful position to block many conservative priorities championed by Abbott and other Republicans. That includes a “bathroom bill” targeting transgender people that failed to pass this year.

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11:50 a.m.

Outgoing Republican Texas House Speaker Joe Straus says he wants to keep promoting “bread and butter issues” rather than policies backed by his party’s most conservative wing.

Straus, who announced Wednesday that he won’t seek re-election next year, didn’t specifically mention the so-called “bathroom bill,” a failed Texas Legislature proposal that sought to target transgender Texans. But he told reporters that “some of the other ideas that I didn’t think were the best, if I played a role in keeping them from happening, some people appreciate that.”

Straus says he will serve out his term, which expires in December 2018, and will campaign on behalf of “responsible Republicans” in the House.

He said some want him to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott next year, but that he doubts that will happen. Straus says he probably won’t seek any statewide office in 2018.

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10:30 a.m.

Republican Texas House Speaker Joe Straus - a powerful moderate voice that kept the country’s largest conservative state from moving even father to the right - abruptly announced Wednesday that he won’t seek re-election.

Straus, whose seat is based in a wealthy area of San Antonio, made the surprise announcement on his Facebook page and in an email to supporters. He said, “my family and I have decided that I will not run for re-election next year.” His current term expires in December 2018, just before the Legislature next convenes.

Straus opposed many of the top conservative priorities championed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversees the Texas Senate. This session, his chamber was instrumental in blocking the “bathroom bill” targeting transgender students.

The House speaker decides committee assignments and Straus used top lieutenants to block top legislation such as the bathroom bill. Conservative groups have for years decried Straus as a closet Democrat, but he crushed primary challenges backed by the tea party movement in recent electoral cycles.

In January, his colleagues elected Straus to a record-tying fifth term unanimously - signifying that he was at the height of his power.

“It’s been decades since someone has left the Speaker’s office on his own terms,” Straus said. “But we have accomplished what I had hoped the House would accomplish when I first entered this office, and I am increasingly eager to contribute to our state in new and different ways.”

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