Michael J. “Mike” Krusee (born February 26, 1959) was a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives from District 52, based about Round Rock in Williamson County. Considered an authority on transportation issues, Krusee held the seat from the suburban area north of Austin from 1993 until 2009.
In his website, Krusee says that he places his “highest priority on educating our children, keeping our neighborhoods safe, and reducing traffic between communities in our region. [And] I fight to keep taxes low, encourage job growth, and support excellent education for our children. . .
A business executive, Krusee is a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.. He and his wife, Leigh A. Krusee, have five children.
Krusee was nearly unseated in his usually Republican district in 2006 and announced in 2007 that he would not contest for renomination in the primary held on March 4, 2008. In the 2006 general election, Krusee defeated Democrat Karen Felthauser and Libertarian Party candidate Lillian Simmons: 18,853 (50.44 percent) to 16.520 (44.2 percent) and 1,998 (5.3 percent), respectively. He ran unopposed in 2004. In 2002, he defeated Democrat Eric Freeman, 22,433 (64.6 percent) to 10,979 (31.6 percent). Simmons ran that year too and polled 1,336 ballots (3.8 percent).
In his first election in 1992, Krusee narrowly defeated Democrat Parker McCollough, 25,259 (51.9 percent) to 23,443 (48.1 percent). In his initial reelection in 1994, he defeated Democrat Llorente Navarrette, 25,004 (63.9 percent) to 14,141 (36.1 percent). He faced a similar outcome in 1996, having defeated Democrat Jerry Graham, 31,752 (61.6 percent) to 19,809 (38.4 percent). He was unopposed in 1998, and in 2000, he faced only Libertarian opposition from Clark Simmons, 54,196 (83.9 percent) to 10,368 (16.05 percent).
Transportation and education
Krusee has been an ally of Governor Rick Perry on the Trans-Texas Corridor and other toll road initiatives, expansion projects unpopular with many voters in both parties. Krusee remained committeed to toll roads, as many of his colleagues sought to distance themselves from them because of a perceived public backlash against letting private companies build and operate the roads.
During the administration of Perry’s predecessor, Governor George W. Bush, Krusee was a leader for Bush’s education initiatives, which require periodic standardized testing of students, but was often at odds with then Speaker Pete Laney, a Democrat, with whom Bush maintained a good working relationship.
Krusee was initially allied with fellow Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick of Midland. Yet, in May 2007, he delivered a speech criticizing Craddick’s refusal to recognize any motion to remove Craddick from his leadership post. Krusee said that “Questioning leadership is the highest privilege this body has. And it belongs to the body, not to the presiding officer.” Thereafter, Krusee and Craddick seemed to have mended their differences, and for a time it appeared that Krusee would seek a ninth two-year term.
Shortly after the 2008 primaries, Krusee was arrested in northwest Austin for driving while intoxicated. He was pulled over by a Texas Department of Public Safety officer after driving his black BMW because his personalized license plate had expired in December 2007. DPS said that Krusee failed a field sobriety test. He told the officer that he had consumed one glass of wine. The charges were later dismissed due to lack of evidence.
In 2003, as chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Krusee became a favorite of the interest group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, as the original author of House Bill 3588, the omnibus transportation bill that included stiffer penalties for drunk driving. The penalties section was added in committee and was not part of Krusee’s original draft bill.
House Bill 3588 also initiated the state's toll road system and the Trans-Texas Corridor. It included a provision to create the driver responsibility program, which accesses a $1,000 surcharge for first-time violators convicted of driving while intoxicated, with additional penalties for repeat offenses.
Choosing a successor to Krusee
Bryan Daniel (born 1970), an insurance executive who was once an aide to former U.S. Representative Larry Combest of Texas, defeated fellow Republican Dee Hobbs (born 1975), an attorney, 1,657 to 1,433, in a low-turnout Republican runoff primary held on April 8 to choose a successor nominee to Krusee. Daniel now meets the Democrat Diana Maria Maldonado (born 1963), a Round Rock school board member, in the November 4 general election. Maldonado, who was unopposed for her nomination in the March 4 primary, has made an issue of Krusee’s unexpected withdrawal from the race and what position, if any, he may have been “promised” in the future.
Diana Maldonado (D) won the election with a narrow plurality, but was subsequently trounced in the 2010 election by Republican Larry Gonzales.