Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Ritter switches

The Republicans get their 100th member.

State Rep. Allan Ritter of Nederland said Saturday that he will leave the Democratic Party and become a Republican, probably giving the GOP a two-thirds majority in the Texas House.

He may not be the last one. Democratic Rep. Aaron Peña of Edinburg hinted Saturday about making the switch to the GOP.

Ritter would be the 99th Republican in the 150-member House. The seat last held by Republican Edmund Kuempel of Seguin, who died last month, is likely to stay in GOP hands, which means two-thirds of the members of the House would be Republicans. The party would be able to pass a constitutional amendment and take money out of the state’s rainy day fund without any Democratic votes.

Ritter, whose district is in the Beaumont area, did not have a Republican challenger this year. Others who fit his profile — moderate to conservative, white Democrats from rural areas and mid-size towns — got swept away in the November elections, and Ritter could well have lost if the GOP had challenged him.

Functionally, this doesn’t make that much difference. Ritter was no one’s idea of a liberal, so his voting profile won’t change much. The constitutional amendment stuff is basically irrelevant since it also takes a two-thirds vote in the Senate to pass a joint resolution, and the Republicans don’t have that. And the Republicans are talking about not using the Rainy Day fund at all, so that doesn’t mean anything, either. Other than Ritter’s re-election chances in 2012, very little has really changed.

Arguably, the Republicans might prefer to downplay all this “supermajority” stuff, since it will reinforce in the public’s mind the fact that they will own everything that happens in the Lege next year. If you don’t even need the other guys to show up to conduct your business, then it’s a little hard to claim they’ve obstructed you if you don’t manage to get everything you want. Maybe they won’t want to do away with the 2/3 rule in the Senate after all – it helps to have a nemesis sometimes.

As for Pena, who knows what he’s going to do. I see it as being more of an attention-grab than anything else, but we’ll see. KT, Harold, Coby, PDiddie, Greg and Greg again, Rachel, and Daniel Lucio have more.

UPDATE: Neil has more as well.

Related Posts:

Comments are closed.