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Bob Bullock and George W. Bush PHOTO BY THE AUSTIN AMERICANSTATESMAN/ RALPH BARRERA COURTESY UT PRESS Read more about this book online de.”, Conversations with Cronkite . SU; 30 B&W photos 829.95 hardcover Conversations Railroad Commission. While Connally was governor, Barnes developed the speaker’s office into a political showcasehaving weekly meetings with members of the Capitol press and making the speaker a more aggressive official in setting policy. It didn’t hurt that his mentor was the sitting governor. Barnes, like Connally, was an activist. He wanted to make things happen. As Patrick L. Cox and Michael Phillips point out in The House Will Come to Order, Barnes sought to put the speaker and the House on more equal footing with the lieutenant governor and the Senate. “We are not going to come down this trail but one time,” Barnes said he told his troops in the House. “Let’s get out there. Let’s not just sit over here and react. Let’s go act. The Senate gets all the credit for what good legislation passes. The House has always kind of been a second place to the governor and the Senate. So let’s change it. Let’s get out there and be proactive. Let’s make some changes.” Barnes took advantage of national policy changes. While LBJ was U.S. Senate majority leader in the 1950s, and later when he was president, he used federal matching money to get states to do things he thought they should have already been doing in education, health care and other areas. State agencies were expanded to distribute the money. The Texas House weighed in on directing that money, and speakers began to realize the job no longer was just a stepping-stone to something else, but its own power center. The speaker’s office holds particular appeal because speakers exercise statewide power, but don’t have to face a statewide electorate like the governor and lieutenant governor. Hethere has yet to be a sheonly has to face voters in one of the state’s 150 House districts, and then keep at least 75 of his 149 elect him every two years. The gold standard for recent speakers was moderate-conservative Democrat Pete Laney, who ran the House from 1993 to 2003. The House Will WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG WATCH Ben Barnes talk about becoming speaker at tx1o.corn/benbarnes WATCH an interview with Speaker of the House Joe Straus at