Via BOR, Quorum Report breaks the news that State Rep. Robert Puente (D, San Antonio) will retire rather than run for another term. Puente was a major Craddick D, so this - even more than the Kirk England party switch - brings us one step closer to the last days of Speaker Craddick. Says QR:
When asked about whether or not Democratic anger over his support of Speaker Tom Craddick had any role in his decision, Puente said, "I have over $300,000 in the bank along with an impeccable voting record on the issues important to my district. I have already done four events in the district in October and have been warmly received. Let people think what they will."
Puente chuckled that his retirement will allow him to focus on his "underutilized law degree."
Asked if he had any other political aspirations, Puente said he might look at local politics but any such endeavor was down the road.
Puente's retirement further reduces the ranks of the Democratic supporters critical to Speaker Tom Craddick's re-election last January. During the session just passed, Patrick Rose (D-Dripping Springs), Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville) and Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont) all announced they would no longer support the Speaker. Aaron Pena (D-Edinburg), Kevin Bailey (D-Houston) and Kino Flores (D-Palmview) are all facing primary challenges at least partially based on their endorsement of the Mr. Craddick
Meanwhile, the first name to emerge in the soon to be open seat is southside city council member Roland Gutierrez. Fero Hewitt will be working with Guiterrez in the election.
Walle accused Bailey of representing the district poorly. Walle most recently served as a staff member for Congressman Gene Green (D-Houston). Offering an example of Bailey's shortcomings, Walle said one time Congressman Green "had to get Kevin Bailey out of bed to go vote in Austin."
Bailey says that's not true.
"I don't know what he's talking about," Bailey told me. "A number of people have been making up a lot of things."
After a hectic day of votes in Washington this week, however, Congressman Green told me an interesting story. Green said in 2003, during one of the special sessions on redistricting, he got a call from Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston).
Thompson said a critical vote on redistricting was planned for the next day and asked Green where Kevin Bailey was, since he had been excused from the day's session for being ill and wasn't answering his phone. Green said he would call Bailey, but couldn't get an answer either, he said, so he told Thompson he would go by Bailey's home the next morning.
"I went by his house early," Green says, noting that Bailey's wife answered the door and said Bailey was still in bed. "Just tell him he needs to be in Austin," Green said.
"How you vote is very important," Green told me. "That kind of bothered me."
For the record, Bailey noted in our conversation that he did vote against redistricting, and he joined the Democrats in the quorum-breaking exodus to Ardmore.