January 24, 2008
"Thanks, Tom"

The Craddick Factor looms large in several primaries in the Fort Worth area.

As Tom Craddick spoke to area Republicans on Jan. 14, he was greeted by dozens of supporters wearing "Thanks, Tom!" stickers.

Not everyone wanted a sticker. As critics within his party see it, Craddick should not be thanked for his work as speaker of the Texas House. Republicans have seen their once-substantial advantage over Democrats in the House trimmed to 79-71 under Craddick's leadership.

In May, Craddick headed off an attempt to replace him as speaker by asserting absolute control of the chamber and refusing requests for a vote.

During his stop in Fort Worth, Craddick said his actions were appropriate. He said the House would descend into "pure chaos" if members could overthrow their speaker whenever they wanted.

Craddick finished the legislative session as speaker, but the issue of his leadership has lingered. Local Craddick bashers, whose number and influence are hotly debated among political observers, are making the speaker an issue in local Republican primaries.

The question hanging over each race: Will a man from Midland affect how North Texas Republicans vote?

The story covers four races, two involving seats held by anti-Craddicks (including the now-Democratic HD97 where apparently no Republicans want to talk about Craddick) and two by pro-Craddicks. Harris County has five contested GOP primaries for State House that I can think of (HDs 127, 129, 130, 134, and 144), but I'm not currently aware of any obvious Craddick/not-Craddick theme in any of them as yet. Dan Patrick is a factor in one of them, but that's a different story.

UPDATE: Brandi Grissom reports on a bipartisan fundraiser for anti-Craddick Republican State Rep. Pat Haggerty in El Paso. I think it's safe to say that Tom Craddick is just about the only issue that matters in the contested State House primaries.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 24, 2008 to Election 2008