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McCall says he can win

And the race for House Speaker gets more interesting.

The lawmaker running against House Speaker Tom Craddick said today he’s confident he’s already secured the votes to be the next speaker, though he wouldn’t say how many pledges he’s gotten from members.

“I’m getting a very good response,” Brian McCall, R-Plano.

McCall said he’s been calling fellow lawmakers since Friday to win backing for his candidacy and that he’s been promised support from many of the 109 members who signed pledge cards for Craddick last month. Seventy-six votes are needed to win.

He also said people are fed up with what he characterized as Craddick’s “(my) way or the highway” style.

McCall filed the necessary papers for the speaker’s race on Friday.

The 16-year House veteran described himself as a social conservative who agrees with Craddick on major policy issues. But he said under his leadership, members would be treated with more respect with him as speaker.

“Members would be allowed to vote their districts and their conscience,” he said. “The speaker would take a back seat.”

As with Craddick’s claim of 109 pledge cards, it’s hard to know how seriously to take what McCall is saying here. It’s been said that with a secret ballot, Craddick would be deposed easily, but that’s not how it’s done. Someone – more than one someone, really – is going to have to be the first Republican to throw down for McCall, and be willing to suffer the brunt of whatever negative consequences there may be if McCall loses. When and if that happens, we’ll know where we stand. If that happens, I fully expect to see enough people follow in that person’s wake to effectively seal the deal. If not, I expect we’re stuck with Craddick for two more years.

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, is one of the most liberal House members, but he said he would vote for McCall if speaker candidate and fellow Houston Democrat Rep. Senfronia Thompson releases him to do so.

”Clearly there’s momentum for change, and that’s what’s important here,” he said. ”Even though Brian is conservative and a lot more conservative than I am, I think he’ll be fair as speaker.

Coleman echoed others who said they are sick of Craddick’s ”autocratic” style.

”Speakers ought to be people who, if the members elect you, you serve the members and the interests of the members,” he added. ”Craddick has not served the member’s interests. He’s served his own interests. The members are disposable.”

It’s been pointed out to me that Democratic caucus rules require a vote for a Democratic Speaker candidate if there is one. I don’t know what enforcement mechanism exists for that, but I’m certain it will be used to get the Craddick Dems in line. The more successful that effort is, the better the odds of Speaker McCall.

Republicans now hold an 81-69 majority in the House.

Actually, even though the runoff in HD29 is between two Republicans, the winner of that race won’t be seated until after January 9. That means that for the purposes of the Speaker’s race, it’s 80-69, not 81. That in turn means that 75 votes are enough to depose Craddick. Who’s to say that won’t matter?

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  1. NOITALL says:

    Those caucus rules are really strict. R and D cauci are made-up creatures that have no standing.

  2. I’d take it quite seriously. Given the capitol culture, I doubt he’d have gone public until he had 76 votes counted, and probably >80.

    Going after a sitting Speaker is a lot like bear hunting – you’re only going to get one shot, so you better kill him the first time or the bear will devour you. I have no inside info, but to me this announcement means McCall almost certainly can count his votes and Craddick’s speakership is in DEEEEEP trouble.

  3. Cafe Tortoli says:

    As long as Garnet Coleman and other members of the failed D leadership don’t blow it for McCall, he has a chance. He knows he needs to be smart enough to build a coalitiion of moderate Rs and of Ds led by the non-Dunnam/Coleman/Gallego faction. And it looks like he is smart enough at this stage….