September 02, 2003
Whitmire calls for an end

Well, it looks like I was wrong about how much longer the Texas 11 will stay away, at least if Sen. John Whitmire gets his wish.

Sen. John Whitmire said today he secretly spent the last five days in Houston, and that it is time for his fellow Democratic senators to end their boycott over congressional redistricting.

"After being in my district for five days, I have concluded my constituents are opposed to redistricting, but they also believe the fight should be on the Senate floor," the Houston legislator said.

"I am returning to New Mexico to keep my commitment to the Texas 11. I will discuss with my colleagues that we need an exit plan, and we need it now."


Whitmire, in a statement, said he did not abandon the group.

"I returned as I had always planned -- not a bolt from the group, but a planned return after sine die (the official adjournment of the Legislature) on Tuesday, August 26," Whitmire said.

He said he got up at 3 a.m. Thursday and caught a 7 a.m. flight to Houston, arriving about 10 a.m.

Whether the Republican senator-catchers were looking elsewhere or just given the weekend off, that was a nice piece of misdirection by Whitmire. I just hope now that he's refreshed, he has some ideas for how to end this. I'm not mad at him for risking capture - I'll leave any tongue-lashings to Sen. Van de Putte - but I'd be a lot less blase if I'd found out about this via a GOP press release announcing that a quorum was at hand.

Interestingly, a sudden return to Austin could have one effect that Gov. Perry might not like. The story in yesterday's Chron mentioned that Perry wanted to wait until after the September 13 election to call another session:

One theory is that he wants to keep a low profile on the dispute until after the Sept. 13 constitutional amendment election. That ballot includes Proposition 12, a high-stakes measure on capping damage awards in medical malpractice lawsuits.

A high voter turnout in Democratic areas might threaten the proposition, which is being pushed hard by Republicans and by the insurance and health care industries and opposed by trial lawyers.

By not calling a third session, Perry is depriving opponents of a rallying point that might get Democrats out to vote against Proposition 12.

But for now, Proposition 12 is widely favored to pass. Perry is about to do television ads for its campaign, so he might be able to ride the coattails of success on the proposition to an improved public standing in the midst of the legislative stalemate.

That all seems a bit too subtle for our governor, but whatever. If an imminent return really is inevitable, then dealing a blow to the evil Prop 12 would be a nice consolation prize. (And as long as I'm dreaming, I wish I had a winning lottery ticket. And a pony.)

As always, stay tuned.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 02, 2003 to Killer D's | TrackBack