January 02, 2009
Speaker strategizing

Tomorrow is going to be a very busy day for pretty much everyone in the Lege.

On Friday evening, a group of Republicans informally known as the ABCs -- Anybody But Craddick -- are planning to huddle at an undisclosed location in Austin, and one of their leaders is predicting that a consensus candidate will emerge by the end of that gathering.

"When we finish Friday night, there will be one candidate," said Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, one of the main coup plotters. "Hopefully a lot of people will get behind that person."

A group of Democrats vowing to oppose Craddick "under any circumstances" is also expected to hold a speaker strategy session on Friday. Craddick, meanwhile, has asked his supporters to gather in Austin on Sunday. His aides won't say where.

"I think if I was a betting man, I would bet that Tom Craddick is still going to be speaker," said Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, a Craddick loyalist. "You always want to bet on the man with the gavel."

I seem to recall reading somewhere that Team Craddick will be getting together for its own jam session, but can't remember where I saw it. Even if such a thing hasn't been reported, you can be sure they'll all be in constant contact. Hope everyone got themselves an unlimited call/text plan for Christmas.

As for Geren's statement about the One True Challenger for Craddick, you know where I stand on that. If that person and his or her former rivals for that role present a united front, then I will begin to truly believe Craddick's days as Speaker are numbered. If not, well, I'm used to disappointment by now. A key indicator will be whether the Craddickites who are associated with one challenger and aren't themselves ABCs - specifically Lois Kolkhorst, Mike Hamilton, and Patricia Harless - have left the reservation permanently or are crawling back to their master, begging for forgiveness. It's going to be an interesting weekend, that's for sure.

On a related note, I received an anonymous email that made the following claim:

There is another layer of "gossip" and whipsering gathering steam in the hallways out there about the aftershocks of Craddick's likely departure. Lege council executive director [Milton] Rister is a long time Craddick protege. The gossip in the capitol, senate and house, is that Rister is toast as council executive director if Craddick exits because of Rister's past heavy handed past campaigning and loyalties to Craddick.

You can read more about Milton Rister here, here (see comments), and here. I do not know who sent me this email, so I cannot personally vouch for its accuracy. But I hope it's correct.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 02, 2009 to That's our Lege

Craddick's group is meeting on Sunday over hamburgers and iced tea - you can click on my name for the link.

And regarding Rister - there are a whole lot of things wrong with him, but planting points of order and tipping off Talton gives too much credit to Rister and too little credit to Talton. It also discredits the hardworking drafters at Lege Council that really do a good job.

Thing is, you can find a point of order on most bills - some are stronger than others. When you have legislative staffers, unpaid interns, and overworked committee clerks writing bill analyses there's always room for human error.

Regardless, Talton did the bulk of his PoO hunting on his own, and he was really good at it. Sometimes that was a good thing, sometimes it sucked.

Posted by: Joe on January 2, 2009 10:30 AM
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