Is it Day 200 of Joe Straus not meeting one-on-one with Dan Patrick?
More than halfway through 2017, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told reporters he’d repeatedly sought one-on-one meetings with Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, a fellow Republican, without drawing a single "come on over."
Past the 32-minute mark of Patrick’s July 13 Texas Capitol press conference, Peggy Fikac of the San Antonio Express-News inquired into teamwork between Straus and Patrick, who had just vowed to guide the Texas Senate to rapid advancement of all 20 agenda items placed by Gov. Greg Abbott on the agenda of the special session that was starting the next week.
"Do you think you need to work with Speaker Straus in order to pass this stuff through the House?" Fikac asked.
Patrick said: "Look, I’m always willing to work. I have requested through the entire session a meeting with the speaker. I never had a one-on-one meeting with the speaker the entire session or since session ended." In contrast, Patrick said, he regularly talks with and sees Abbott.
After the presser, we asked aides to elaborate. From Patrick, we requested documentation of his repeated requests to meet. We asked Straus’s office if Patrick was accurate and said we’d be happy to hear from Straus directly.
We didn't hear back from either office immediately. But after we initially posted this story, Straus spokesman Jason Embry said by email: "We don't have any record of a meeting request but Lieutenant Governor Patrick has, in passing, suggested getting together. Speaker Straus is happy to meet with anyone who wants to have a constructive conversation about solutions to the real challenges facing this state."
Meantime, five days after Patrick made his claim, a New York Times news story said the seeming Straus-Patrick standoff had led to the cancellation of some leadership breakfasts during the regular session that ran from January through May.
The story also asserted as a fact that the two hadn't huddled together alone. "During the entire 140-day regular session, " the story said, Straus and Patrick "never met one on one, an extraordinary occurrence for the two Republicans who preside over the State House and State Senate."
If all this holds up, it looks like Patrick and Straus--pivotal figures in how the Senate and House handle Abbott’s 20-item special-session agenda--have, in fact, not talked out priorities one on one at any time in 2017. We're open to learning more.