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State Rep. Tan Parker enters race to replace Straus as House speaker

Profile image for Patrick Svitek
Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, filed Thursday for speaker of the Texas House, becoming the third Republican to enter the race to succeed retiring Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio.

Parker, the chairman of the House Republican Caucus, joins state Reps. Phil King of Weatherford and John Zerwas of Richmond in vying for the gavel. King declared his candidacy before Straus announced in October that he was retiring, while Zerwas got in quickly after Straus' announcement.

First elected in 2006, Parker represents House District 63, which covers most of southern and western Denton County that includes Argyle, Bartonville, Flower Mound, Ponder and Justin. In addition to the GOP caucus, Parker chairs the House Committee on Investments and Financial Services.

Parker's entrance into the speaker's race comes two days after the primaries. Parker was unopposed for his House seat Tuesday, though he faces Democrat Laura Haines in November.

Straus is stepping down after a record-tying five terms as speaker. The race to replace him behind the gavel is expected to draw at least several more candidates.

Ahead of the 2019 session, House Republicans have agreed to select a speaker in the caucus and then vote as a bloc on the floor — a move that would make Democrats irrelevant in picking the chamber's next leader. Before the primaries, the Texas GOP pushed House incumbents and candidates to sign a form promising to ultimately support the caucus pick — Parker and King have signed the form, while Zerwas has not.

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

FEATURED PHOTO: State Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, during a Sept. 13, 2016, Select State & Federal Power & Responsibility committee hearing. Marjorie Kamys Cotera/The Texas Tribune