Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Secret Vote For Texas House Speaker? It Just MAY Happen

I think I mentioned it before that a secret vote for Texas House Speaker wasn’t going to happen. I have to reconsider that statement in light of recent events.

First, consideration was given to the alphabetic order. Members whose surnames are down the list in the alphabet hold a distinct advantage over their peers whose final initial is closer to A than Z. Members down the list wouldn’t have to vote their conscience or the interests of their constituents. They could vote for the winner and no one would be the wiser.

So the Craddick camp came out with an ingenious suggestion, have a roll vote, but call out names randomly so no one could tell who was going to be called next. Geez, that introduces a whole new angle: members could simply do a recalculation every time a vote is cast, a recalculation of the probability that their name will be called next. Sort of like playing Russian Roulette with a 149 shot revolver – but you don’t get to spin the drum each time you before you pull the trigger.


More thought to this seen at the Austin American-Statesmn :
“Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, said he hadn't seen the proposal but said it didn't sound very well thought out. "If you do it one at a time instead of everybody voting at once, the people at the end of the vote will decide who wins, or will throw their vote to whoever the leader is," he said.”
And now, with the new randomness thrown in, you don’t know if you have a chance to be a kingmaker, you can only recalculate the probability with each cast vote.

But then out comes a newly designed Craddick Pledge card, where you not only pledge for Craddick, but you pledge your vote for the voting method to be roll call. That was a little over the top to some members, like Rep. Richard Raymond (HD 42) who sent Craddick a 3 page missive outlining why he was switching his vote to Pitts:
“Your recent demand that supporters must not only reaffirm their commitment to you but also vote for an election process that leaves Members subject to intimidation and perhaps retaliation makes it apparent that a return to an ethical and civil House will not occur under your leadership.”
Jeez, he didn’t know that. It’s hard to look like a reformed bully when you can’t keep from putting your hands around peoples necks and shaking hard.

This is the part of the letter that I really like though:
“Moreover, personal ethical controversy and your inflexible leadership style have created a DeLay-like public persona. In the same way that national Democrats easily vilified Congressional Republicans simply by associating them with Tom DeLay, it is easy to see you playing the same useful role for Democratic legislative candidates in 2008.”
Didn’t I say that? Yes I believe I did. So Raymond, who is a Democrat mind you, is probably swallowing hard that he isn't going to be able to vote for Craddick. With Pitts as speaker, and as reason returns to the Texas House, Texas voters are bound to ask themselves in '08 "What's broke?"

And then Raymond wrote this:
“I would also add, that were you confident of your colleagues (sic) confidence in you, you would also be confident in the outcome of a secret ballot vote. However, having thoughtfully discussed this race with over two dozen of my Republican colleagues, I now know you would lose a secret ballot race by an overwhelming margin, and, frankly, I now expect you to lose regardless of how we cast our votes.”
Well, he better lose now, Representative Raymond. Now instead of having Alfred Stanley out after your seat in the 2008 primary, you’re going to have James Leininger and his millions out after your seat.

What the heck, the guy’s so mean, he’ll go after your seat no matter how you vote now.

So I think the winds of change have hit the state house floor, and there is a better than even chance that the vote for speaker will be by secret ballot. Put this way by Rep. Tommy Merritt, R-Longview who reported that more than 80 House members have told him they support a secret ballot for the speaker's post.”

If the ballot is secret, Craddick hasn’t a prayer or a friend on the floor.

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