Moderate GOP Texas House speaker not seeking re-election

Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus. (File)
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Republican Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, a powerful moderate voice in the country's largest conservative state, says he won't seek re-election for his San Antonio-based seat next year.

Straus made the surprise announcement on his Facebook page and in an email to supporters.

He says he came to the decision with his family.

"Joe Straus has served with distinction for both the people in his district and for the Texas House of Representatives,” Gov. Greg Abbott said.

"I thank Speaker Straus for his service and for his commitment to the State of Texas."

Straus' current term expires in December 2018, just before the Legislature next convenes.

Straus opposed many of the top conservative priorities including the so-called "bathroom bill" championed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversees the Texas Senate.

Straus says he wants to keep promoting "bread and butter issues" rather than policies backed by his party's most conservative wing.

Straus didn't specifically mention the "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.

“Moderate and even traditional conservative Texas Republican officeholders are moving from endangered to extinct,” Lone Star Project Director Matt Angle said Wednesday.