Whitmire will attend the next session
Just a brief overview from here: Sen. John Whitmire is now saying that he will definitely attend the next special session, whenever that may be, in order to fight redistricting on the floor of the Senate. This guarantees a quorum, barring any other boycotts (which is unlikely, to say the least). The remaining holdout Senators will probably return in this event as well - they may as well at that point.
Today's Chron has a profile of Whitmire, which has a lot of background quotes and he-said she-said stuff. It also has this bit, which the Chron curiously didn't expand on:
Under the regime of the late Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, a Democrat, Whitmire played a major role on overhauling the state's Penal Code. Both men were born in Hillsboro (Whitmire moved to the Houston area as a child), and both had tough, independent streaks.
Often, Whitmire was the go-to man in the Senate for legislation that allowed cities to build new sports facilities.
In Houston, he was mentioned as a mayoral prospect, speculation he enjoyed.
John Whitmire is the brother-in-law of former Houston mayor Kathy Whitmire. He's well known to not much like her, but has also said that she took good care of his brother while he was dying, and he's always appreciated that. I'm surprised there was no mention of any of that.
Anyway, the article quotes some people making speculation that Whitmire's return to Houston may have been in part to benefit his law firm. I have no idea if any of that is true, but if it is, I'll for sure rescind my currently-neutral stance on Whitmire's actions. Until further notice, however, he still has the benefit of my doubt.
For what it's worth, the web page that was (finally) set up by the Texas Democratic Party for contributions to the Texas 11 still list Whitmire as one of them. Whether that's a sign of bygones being bygones or page updates being as slow to come about as the website itself was is for you to decide. (Link via Byron.)
Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 07, 2003 to Killer D's
Sen. Whitmire is "of counsel" at Locke Liddell & Sapp, which counts among its major clients the Houston Chronicle, JP Morgan Chase, El Paso Corp., and the Texas Medical Center, for instance. It's a big firm, the product of a fairly recent merger of two longstanding large firms in Houston and Dallas. Former Texas Attorney General and Chief Justice John Hill is among its prominent Houston partners, but it has plenty of other heavy hitters in legal and civic circles. A quick check of their website suggests there are 140+ lawyers in the Houston office alone, with many more in Dallas, Austin, etc.
The firm is undoubtedly a major player in both lobbying and direct representation, but most large Texas law firms tends to keep a foot in each political camp. Sen. Whitmire isn't a partner -- meaning he doesn't have any equity in the firm, and probably doesn't share directly in its profits. It's hard to identify some direct link between his taking a particular stand in redistricting and any future profits of the firm anyway. And even if it's a low seven-figure number, all of the firm's lobbying/public law billings put together probably amount to a pretty small overall percentage of its revenues.
So I'm pretty skeptical of the suggestion that his law firm affiliation had anything to do with his current position. It sounds to me like speculation, rumor, and vague gossip, frankly, and as you note, Charles, there's plenty of that already floating around.
Even just from the other facts reported in that Chronicle article and the video clips from their interview, you can find ample other reasons that explain his actions. Or you could ask the quiet Democratic State Senator, Kent Armbrister of Victoria -- who didn't flee the jurisdiction to begin with -- about why it might make some considerable sense to be present at the next special session.