State Sen. Mario Gallegos has revealed that he needs a liver transplant.
"I haven't been given a green light for anything," the Houston Democrat said this week. "Whatever I do will be between my family, my doctor and me."
Gallegos, a recovering alcoholic, was lauded Tuesday when he was sworn in as the Senate's new president pro tempore -- making him third in line of succession to the governorship.
Work with the body politic, though, could have to wait for work on his.
He's been under close medical supervision for the past year, receiving blood transfusions every other week as part of the monitoring process.
During the Senate caucus meeting Tuesday, moments before senators stepped on the floor to anoint Gallegos president pro tempore, he revealed his health problems to his colleagues.
The ceremonial position rotates among senators based on seniority. Whoever holds it traditionally serves as "Governor for a Day" sometime during the session when the governor and lieutenant governor make a point of being out of state at the same time.
Granted, the Senate is full of formality and niceties, but a majority of the 31 senators praised Gallegos Tuesday, and it went on for longer than usual.
"If you weren't familiar with what happened in caucus, you didn't understand the emotional outpouring of support," said Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, who made the first speech seconding Gallegos' nomination.
There are political ramifications of acknowledging illness, which some mistake for weakness.
From the floor of the Senate, Whitmire cautioned anyone interested in running for Gallegos' seat against challenging him while he is in recovery.
"There is plenty of time for him to worry about political recovery," Whitmire said. "If he improves his health, it enhances his political strength."
Gallegos' statement on his medical status is here.Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 12, 2007 to That's our Lege