Sunday, December 28, 2008

Let’s All Run for House Speaker

In the wake of a near-nuclear melt-down in the waning days of the Texas House 80th Legislature, when House Speaker Tom Craddick refused to recognize a motion from the House floor to remove him as Speaker, you would think that there would be a deliberate line-up of ducks to avoid a repeat performance.

You would think.

But the only line-up we are seeing in the days leading up to the January 13th vote to elect a Speaker is the line-up of twelve, count ‘em, twelve declared candidates for the spot.

Among the Republicans we have Craddick, of course, along with Delwin Jones, Jim Keffer, Tommy Merritt, Burt Solomons, Edmund Kuempel, and now, just announced today, Dan Gattis.

Among Democrats we have Senfronia Thompson, Pete Gallego, Scott Hochberg, and Sylvester Turner.

That field, however, should thin by mid January when the vote comes up. It always does. Case in point. Tom Craddick was the only House Member nominated in the 2007 Speaker’s race. Even with all of the jockeying for pledges that took place in the run-up to the January 9th election of Speaker Craddick to a third term, in the end, the vote went to Craddick when he demonstrated his supporter base and maneuvered through the maze of setting rules for voting for Speaker.

This last announcement by Gattis has all of the earmarks of many of the other Craddick challengers. A former shill for Craddick, Gattis has publicly turned on his former patrón. In fact, the common denominator among these Republican candidates (and Turner) is that they are former Craddick allies – in public anyway. In fact, Gattis came out against Craddick in a big way two weeks ago when he filed a constitutional proposition that would allow for the removal of the House Speaker by a 2/3s vote.

And we are now seeing Craddick-esque behavior by Keffer who laid out a smokescreen before the general election saying that his election as Speaker is a done deal and he has the votes.

So the shell game is now being played in earnest. The winner will be the one who plays it best. In the past that has been Tom Craddick. But with a net gain of 3 House seats by the Democrats, my bet is not on Craddick this time. Democrats missed getting parity by a narrow margin, but hopefully they will play a cannier match this time around and not squander their pledges on meaningless advances and advantages.

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