Saturday, December 30, 2006

(Nearly All of) Texas House Chairmen Send a Letter

Texas State House members were sent a letter yesterday, endorsed by 27 committee chairman, calling on the House membership to vote a third term for House Speaker Tom Craddick. Vince has seen the letter, too. Go here for his take.

“We want all members of the legislature to know that we firmly support Tom Craddick’s re-election as our Speaker. He is known for fairness and making tough decisions, qualities that are indispensable to the House of Representatives. His critics can’t attack his honesty, his character or his accomplishments
They go on to sing his high praises, listing his accomplishments: the budget, property tax relief, more funding for schools and a teacher pay raise, and then they threw in this zinger:
“In an effort to better reflect the diverse and ever changing face of Texas, Speaker Craddick has reached out across party lines and has appointed more minority members into leadership positions than in any other time in the Legislature’s history. This diversity has helped build a spirit of bipartisanship and respect across the aisle.”
Excuse me? We know just why Craddick reached across the aisle to put Democratic minorities into leadership positions. As long as Craddick is Speaker, they have their chairmanships. As long as they stay in line they keep their leadership positions where they can be more effective for the voters in their district. One hand washes the other.

Notably absent in their endorsement of this letter were Jim Pitts, who is still also running, as well as Talton, Ritter and Eiland, who have sided with McCall.

Brian McCall, running in the three-way race for House Speaker, responded with his own brief statement on the letter after reading it:
“No speaker in Texas history has burned through more committee chairs than the current speaker. He lost four just this week. It's no surprise that the 27 members who hold chairmanships would be the last ones seeking reform of the status quo. I've spoken with some of the chairs on the list and I don't think we're through with the defections.”

Nice one Representative McCall, especially that last bit. I don’t think this letter is going to fool anyone. All it was was a naked display of the status quo: how Craddick gets and has maintained his power.

It is a reminder to the rest just how things will be run if he is re-elected. If nothing else, all of these recent suggestions that he will reform his tactics and will be a fairer speaker if elected are negated by this letter.

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