"We need a new direction in the Texas House because the status quo means gridlock, and we cannot afford gridlock with the issues staring us down in the upcoming session," said Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, who declared his candidacy Monday.
Gattis, a former committee vice-chairman under Craddick, said a bipartisan leadership style is needed now that the Republicans hold a thin advantage in the House. The Democrats' election gains last month left House Republicans with just a 76-74 edge. By contrast, Craddick was elected speaker in 2003 when the Republicans controlled 88 seats.
"He doesn't have the members behind him well enough for him to be able to lead a 76-74 House," Gattis said.
Several Craddick supporters -- including Rep. Mike Hamilton, R-Mauriceville; Rep Patricia Harless, R-Spring; and Rep Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham -- have switched sides and are now backing Gattis.
"It's pretty evident that Tom doesn't have the votes," Hamilton said.
[E]vents may have overtaken the Democrat-ABC coalition that has 75 votes against Craddick. Gattis's candidacy for speaker provides members with a chance to realign in coalitions FOR someone instead of merely against. Suddenly the timing is off for the ABCs. Their announcement of a candidate won't come until the end of the week, and in the meantime Gattis can be adding to his list of supporters.
UPDATE: From Rep. Aaron Pena on Twitter:
The Speaker's race appears to have narrowed to a few candidates. The end is in sight. Look for the smoke from the Sistine Chapel in days.
UPDATE: And Burka says the next Speaker will be Smithee, Gattis, or Burt Solomons. Does that count as white smoke?Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 30, 2008 to That's our Lege