Rep. Fred Hill, the most recent entrant into the Great Speaker Sweepstakes of 2007 (okay, second most recent), says it's just a matter of time before the long-anticipated motion to vacate the Speaker's chair is made.
Hill said if no one else made a motion to vacate House Speaker Tom Craddick, then he would. But he added that he didn't think he would have to -- that another upstart House member would. If the motion to vacate is successful, Hill also said he expected House members to nominate numerous speaker candidates, including Craddick. A candidate must win a majority of votes to claim the speakership, so the votes could go to more than one ballot.
"The membership of this body is very unhappy," Hill told a gaggle of reporters. "I thought Tom would change. The bottom line is things are not changing."
Hill said that a majority of the House had turned against Craddick.
Rumors are zipping around the House floor that a motion could come as early as tonight. Craddick's been working the floor so hard, he might need a new pair of shoes before the session ends. The question is, will he need a new desk too?
Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, can no longer be counted in Craddick's column.
Rose and Rep. Eddie Lucio III met in a tense meeting with Craddick Tuesday afternoon. Afterwards, word swept the floor that the Democrats, two of the 15 that helped elect Craddick in January, had defected.
It added to the perception that a motion to vacate the chair could come tonight.
Lucio, a first-year legislator, confirmed tonight that he told Craddick he supports removing him as speaker. He said afterward he has no preference on who replaces Craddick.
"I respect the speaker, I respect his family," Lucio said. He said he took heat from colleagues at the start of the session for voting for Craddick's re-election as speaker, but he did so "based on a clean slate."
Since then, Lucio said, the House has proved "more divided than ever. In order to have a Legislature that works together... there has to be a change."
"Tom Craddick has been very nice to me," he said. "Unfortunately, this is something that has to take place."