Dennis Bonnen unanimously elected Texas House speaker, succeeding long-time leader Joe Straus

Chase Karacostas

State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, was elected speaker of the Texas House of Representatives by a unanimous vote on Tuesday, just hours into the session’s opening day.

Bonnen is replacing former state Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, who chose not to run for re-election in 2018. Straus served as speaker from 2009 to 2018.

Bonnen, a legislator since 1997, is also a moderate Republican like Straus. Both secured the chamber’s top job by garnering the support of Democrats.

Shortly after being elected speaker, Bonnen told the Dallas Morning News that the so-called “bathroom bill,” one of the most controversial items from the 2017 session, would not be a priority and that he would be “discouraged” if “real issues” were distracted by such a bill. The bathroom bill, in its various forms, sought to restrict the public bathrooms Texans could use to the sex listed on their birth certificate.

Instead, Bonnen said the main focus will be on school finance and property tax reform, two major issues that fell through the cracks during the last session.

In the last legislative session, Bonnen was the speaker pro tempore, serving as the House’s leader when Straus was absent. He was also the chairman of the Ways and Means committee.