|Joseph R. "Joe" Straus, III|
|Spouse(s)||Julie Brink Straus|
Joseph R. "Joe" Straus, III (born September 1, 1959), is a centrist Republican state representative from San Antonio, Texas, who has been since January 2009 the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. He was initially elected to the House in a special election held in January 2005 to succeed Elizabeth Ames Jones, who resigned to join the Texas Railroad Commission. A youthful admirer of the late U.S. Senator John G. Tower, Straus has, like Tower, supported pro-choice interests. His critics claim that he has also undermined free enterprise economics.
To win the Speakership, Straus, armed with Democratic backing, unseated fellow Republican Tom Craddick of Midland, Texas, the senior member of the state House and its first ever Republican Speaker, having served from 2003 to 2009.
In the final weeks of 2010, a movement developed among some conservative Republican citizens and political figures to replace Straus as Speaker. State Republican Executive Committee member John Cook wrote in an e-mail to a colleague: "We elected a house with Christian, conservative values. We now want a true Christian, conservative running it." The dissident conservatives stressed that their opposition to Straus is not because the Speaker is Jewish, but that the Speaker should have pro-life, pro-family values.
On January 11, 2011, the Texas House nevertheless reelected Speaker Straus, 132-15. The dissenters, including Bryan Hughes of Mineola, Warren Chisum of Pampa, and Ken Paxton of McKinney, Texas, are termed by Tea Party activists as the "Texas 15."