It was a very weird election year in Texas. Why should the Speaker's race be any different?
Tuesday brought yet another twist in the speaker's race: Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena, another conservative Republican, announced he would decide by Thursday whether to become the third person to challenge Craddick, after McCall and liberal Democrat Senfronia Thompson of Houston.
"I think members of the House ought to run the House," Talton said, voicing a common refrain of discontent. "I think there needs to be changes. I told the speaker that shortly after the election."
Thompson, for her part, said she remains in the running, at least for now.
But she said if too many candidates run against Craddick for speaker, it could divide the "disgruntled" vote.
She said it would be "very difficult" for her to support Talton but she'd have "no problem" supporting McCall under certain circumstances.
"He's in the same position I'm maybe in. Can we garner enough votes on both sides of the aisle to make a cut? That's what it really boils down to," she said.
Anybody know if the vote for Speaker requires a majority - in other words, is there a runoff if no one gets 76 Yeas? The Constitution did not address this point.
Few House members, and no committee chairpeople contacted for this story, appeared willing to openly discuss breaking ranks with the man who has decided committee assignments and chairmanships, and the fate of major bills.
"I'm focusing on getting support for a secret ballot," said Rep. Tommy Merritt, R-Longview.
Sticking with Craddick, for example, are Democratic Reps. Robert Puente of San Antonio and Ismael "Kino" Flores of Palmview, who chair, respectively, the committees on Natural Resources and Licensing & Administrative Procedures.
Flores said Craddick's reputation for strong-arm tactics could be undeserved, but he wasn't about to test it.
"If you don't put him in a corner and if you don't punch him, he'll work with you," Flores said. "Now, has anyone opposed him and survived? I don't know. If you're asking me if I'm going to take that chance, (the answer is) no."
It's good on a number of levels that Senfronia Thompson is in the race. The main reason why is because she gives all Democrats an unimpeachable reason for supporting someone besides Craddick.
Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, said Sunday that he has pledged to support Thompson when the balloting occurs.
"My first obligation is going to be try to support the Democratic candidate," he said. "If we're released from our pledges, that's a different story."
And if all else fails, there's always the threat of a primary opponent. Would you like to have to explain to Democratic primary voters why you supported a Republican over a Democrat in the Speaker's race? I wouldn't.
Who knows what happens next? It'll be all over before you know it, so stay tuned.Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 27, 2006 to That's our Lege | TrackBack