Texas House elects Straus as speaker

AUSTIN - The Texas House has elected Republican Rep. Joe Straus as the powerful leader of its chamber.

The Legislature convened Tuesday a little more than an hour before Straus was named to replace Midland Republican Rep. Tom Craddick.

Craddick dropped his bid for a fourth term as speaker this month when support coalesced around Straus.

Straus, the first Jewish speaker since Texas became a state, is a two-term Republican from San Antonio who has promised to bring bipartisanship and civility to a chamber that had been sharply divided.

Craddick, who in 2003 became the first Republican speaker since the Civil War era, watched as his historic tenure ended.

Texas speakers are one of the three top legislative leaders, but is the only one elected to the post only by his peers.

The speaker can set the agenda and appoint committee chairmanships.