75 declared anti-Craddick votes?

Harvey Kronberg reports on a meeting of Republican representatives in Austin about the fate of Tom Craddick.

If the Dems can deliver their promised 64 votes, there are now 75 declared votes against Craddick’s re-election as Speaker.

Today a group of House Republicans met in Austin and, along with some of their colleagues participating by telephone, mutually affirmed their support for a new Speaker other than Tom Craddick.

Sharing the sentiments in the room, Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) said, “I don’t have a problem with Tom Craddick. I don’t think he has the votes. I think we need to look for a new Speaker.” His colleague, Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) added, “We affirmatively agreed that it was time for selecting a new Speaker from the group in attendance.”

Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) said that in addition to those present today, there are other Republicans who will be coming forward when the group announces its consensus candidate on Jan. 2.

That’s the first time I’ve seen Rep. Eissler’s name among the anti-Craddicks. If he has defected, then Craddick’s core support, as documented by Phillip Martin, is in decline. Even Burka is getting on board with the idea that Craddick’s days are numbered. More encouraging still is Rep. Geren’s statement about a consensus candidate coming forward soon, which as you know has been the stumbling block for me. When and if that happens, that’s when we’ll know if the Not-Craddick sentiment will really translate into positive support for an actual alternative. As Brandi Grissom shows, that may still be dicey.

[Rep. Chente] Quintanilla, D-El Paso, said if a Democrat could win, he would vote for that candidate in a heartbeat. But with the GOP still on top, he said, the House leader is likely to be a Republican.

Of all the Republican candidates, Quintanilla said, Craddick is the one who knows best what El Paso’s needs are.

But, he said he’s not ready to publicly endorse any speaker candidate yet.

“I’m still looking for whoever is going to be amenable to helping El Paso,” he said.

Rep. Jim Dunnam, please call your office. This is probably just intended by Rep. Quintanilla to make sure that he’ll end up supporting the winner, and thus not get left out in the cold when committee assignments are doled out, but nobody should be taking anything for granted right now. On the plus side, there does appear to be some pressure being applied to Craddick D’s to abandon ship. No way Craddick can win without them – he couldn’t have won without them in 2007 – so if that argument gains headway, it really will be all over. But until we have one alternative candidate with a list of pledges 75 names or longer, I’m going to sweat this out. It’s like that old adage from comic books and horror movies: You don’t assume the villain is dead until you see its decapitated corpse with your own two eyes. That’s what I’ll be looking for here as well.

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