TMF Promises Bipartisan Leadership Style
with Pledge to Spread Power Across Board
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
October 26, 2020
Democratic State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer fired up a bid for Texas House speaker with words of praise for a black female colleague who's his most serious current rival and a vow to delegate an unprecedented amount of power to women and minorities.
But Martinez Fischer appeared to be fishing for support from across the aisle with a pledge to be an equal opportunity speaker regardless of party affiliation despite a reputation as one of the Legislature's most partisan members during a career that's spanned most of the last two decades.
“The number one job of the Speaker is to protect the House and its members," Martinez Fischer said after filing today an official contender for the powerful leadership post. "Members know that I have been a defender of the House rules and wielded them to protect the institution and the people we serve. My vision for the Texas House is an independent body that will work respectfully in a bi-partisan manner with the best minds at the table. That is not negotiable."
A San Antonio attorney who lost two races for the Texas Senate in the past five years, Martinez Fischer made a long-anticipated quest for speaker formal with the filing of a special campaign committee for the leadership race after Democratic State Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston had done the same late last week.
Outgoing GOP Speaker Dennis Bonnen's successor will be expected to emerge from the party that wins the House majority at the polls next week. But the potential contenders for the gavel had appeared to be waiting to see which side would be running the show in the west wing of the Capitol in 2021 before launching a speaker campaign that might have no chance.
Democrats will reclaim control in the lower chamber in the general election next Tuesday if they flip at least nine seats at the ballot box after picking up a dozen in 2018. The early activity among the Democrats is yet another sign that the current minority party's representatives are confident that they will have the ability to elect one of their own as the first Democratic speaker since Republican Tom Craddick unseated Pete Laney in early 2003.
State Rep. Oscar Longoria of Mission appears poised to join the field of speaker aspirants as well in a move that will throw a curve into the competition amid speculation that he already has a significant number of the House Democrats in South Texas ready to enter his camp.
Thompson scored shows of support on Monday from a diverse quartet of Democrats from the Dallas and Austin areas and her home base in the state's largest city where she's been a representative for almost 48 years. Houston Democratic State Reps. Garnet Coleman and Armando Walle rallied behind Thompson today along with State Reps Yvonne Davis of Dallas, Julie Johnson of Dallas and John Bucy of Austin.
But Thompson steered clear today from the super-partisan explosive issue of legislative and congressional redistricting that Martinez Fischer played up substantially in an announcement on his emergence as a candidate for speaker when the House elects a new leader in January.
Martinez Fischer promised that women and "people of color" would be elevated to higher-ranking stations in a House that he led. But Martinez Fischer talked as though he hoped to build a base of support from scratch without preconceived notions or regional favoritism.
"My goal is to ensure that where the big decisions are made, the decision makers will reflect the rich diversity of our state," TMF added. "Everyone, no matter their gender, who they love, or where they come from - rural, urban, and suburban alike - deserve to lead in the People’s House."
Martinez Fischer offered a token olive leaf to Thompson before the competition gets under way if the Republicans fail to successfully protect their hold on the west wing of the Capitol.
“I expect several of my colleagues to enter this race, and I welcome that constructive debate," the veteran Alamo City lawmaker said. "There are many talented, good-hearted public servants in the Texas House. Chief among them is Chairwoman Senfronia Thompson. I respect Chairwoman Thompson and I have learned much from her. I will never stop working with her to meet the needs of Texas. I look forward to the conversation with my colleagues both current and future over the coming days.”