Well, that's one way to announce your retirement:
— Jim Keffer (@RepJimKeffer) June 12, 2015
After ten terms in the House,I can say w/o hesitation,that the House is the greatest part of the greatest Leg.of the greatest State #txlege
— Jim Keffer (@RepJimKeffer) June 13, 2015
Rich fringe have no answers, no vision-want mouthpieces for their private follies.Ask questions,seek facts,"sheeple"get eaten. #txlege
— Jim Keffer (@RepJimKeffer) June 14, 2015
Texas,again,won Gov.Cup-best place to do business in the Country-didn't happen for the 11th time by accident -Leadership and Vision #txledge
— Jim Keffer (@RepJimKeffer) June 16, 2015
As others have noted, there are only three remaining GOP members of the House that helped elect Joe Straus Speaker in 2009: Charlie Geren, Byron Cook, and Straus himself. Geren and Cook are certain to have challenging primary elections. But the good news for Straus is that he's been doing a sufficient job of winning support among caucus-mates further to his right. It says something that the last two challengers for Straus' speakership were junior members of the caucus who barely knew either the House rule book or legislative process. There's a way of looking at the original base of Straus' support and seeing his time as Speaker being limited. But there hasn't really been a big hue and cry for change among the GOP caucus. So I wouldn't expect to see a change given retirements like that of Keffer, or even after a few primary losses.
Bud Kennedy gets the reaction on Keffer's announcement from Mike Lang, who had expected to challenge Keffer. I'd expect to see a few more credible names line up for the seat now that it's open.
CORRECTION: Unfortunately, former Rep. Ed Kuempel passed away in 2010 and was replaced by his son. The third member of the "Gang of 11" that remains, is Joe Straus himself. The correction has been made in the post above.
ADD-ON: It's not legislative, but it's of some intrigue - Michael Massengale (1st Court of Appeals, Place 8) will challenge Supreme Court justice Debra Lehrmann for the GOP nomination in 2016. If nothing else, that creates an open seat on the multi-county 1st CoA. That court has the same jurisdiction as the 14th CoA and here's what the 2012 and 2008 results look like for those courts (GOP results on the left column, Dems on the right column):
2012 General Election
1st Court of Appeals District Place 2 Bland(I) 869,923 (53.3%) Lovett 762,619 (46.7%) Place 6 Brown(I) 871,073 (53.4%) Silverman 758,993 (46.6%) Place 7 Jennings 872,095 (53.5%) Oakes 757,166 (46.5%) Place 8 Massengale(I) 875,473 (53.8%) Copeland 752,158 (46.2%) Place 9 Huddle(I) 870,117 (53.4%) Cheng 759,483 (46.6%) 14th Court of Appeals District Place 3 Busby 851,386 (52.3%) Gardner 777,867 (47.7%) Place 4 Brown(I) 882,666 (54.2%) Wrotenbery 744,530 (45.8%) Place 5 Jamison(I) 879,147 (54.0%) Garth 748,127 (46.0%) Place 8 Donovan 857,843 (52.7%) Maldonado 771,367 (47.4%)
2008 General Election
1st Court of Appeals District Place 3 Hubbard 776,587 (49.4%) Sharp 794,759 (50.6%) Place 5 Higley(I) 802,668 (51.2%) Taylor 763,840 (48.8%) 14th Court of Appeals District C. Justice Hedges(I) 798,272 (51.0%) Beverly 768,045 (49.0%) Place 4 Brown(I) 806,648 (51.6%) Moser 756,035 (48.4%) Place 6 Boyce(I) 793,829 (50.8%) Markantonis 768,014 (49.2%) Place 7 Frost(I) 790,831 (50.7%) Siegel 770,586 (49.4%)
While those numbers are close and Jim Sharp managed to win a majority in 2008, the real trick to winning this district is to see (at minimum) a 53% win in Harris County and some slight upticks in the other counties. Seeing Ft. Bend County go 50-50 would still leave you short without the smaller counties chipping in a point or two. It's still a good court to run for in the hopes that the tide turns, but it's a challenge to run with the aim of picking off your own crossover votes. Sharp obviously benefited from his last name. I worked on the Siegel campaign in 2008 and we ran cable ads in the hope of getting some crossover votes. I think I can make an argument that it happened, but it definitely didn't happen in large enough numbers. And whether you believe that the 2008 level support is there in 2016 or whether 2012 is more reflective of the new normal is definitely a factor for consideration.