January 05, 2007
Pitts and McCall, McCall and Pitts

Here's the news from yesterday's press conference.

There was no cavalry, no list of supporters -- indeed, no promises of a list of supporters.

When Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, announced Thursday that he had locked up the votes in the race against his onetime ally Tom Craddick for speaker of the Texas House, only one House member appeared at the news conference with him: Rep. Brian McCall, the former candidate for speaker who threw his support to Pitts on Wednesday.

Pitts, the affable House Appropriations chairman and 14-year House veteran, said he is not going to play "the list game," referring to the list of 83 House members Craddick said last week were in his camp.

He said he appeared with only one House member not because he couldn't find anyone else to bring along but because he didn't want to subject his supporters to the intimidation that he said would certainly follow.

"I would not put a member in jeopardy. But I guarantee you," he added, "the race is over."

Pitts' decision not to name names was almost certain to have one effect on the high-stakes race for speaker: prolong the outcome until Tuesday, the opening day of the session.

Beyond that, there was little consensus on who was ahead in the battle between the conservative Republicans.

I admit, I'd have liked to have seen a swarm of people standing behind Jim Pitts, but I can understand the reason why not. Framing it as "protecting the members", which is the biggest Republican knock on Craddick, is the smart way to go for that. Like everybody else, I'm hearing different things about What It All Means. About all I can say now is that it's going to be a long weekend, and I hope Pitts' people take the advice of a commenter on Burka's blog who said "turn off your cellphones and spend the next few days at home".

Two other Chron stories of interest - a profile of Pitts and a Rick Casey column on Senfronia Thompson. Read this and consider the possibilities:

Some Democrats think their brothers and sisters who support Craddick are doing so at the expense, not for the benefit, of their constituents and deserve opposition in the next election. After all, Houston Democrat Al Edwards was seen as losing in the primary partly because he was on Craddick's team.

One suggested the possibility of Senfronia Thompson's cutting a radio ad for opponents of, say, [Ruth Jones] McClendon or Austin's Dawnna Dukes (Appropriations Committee).

The possible script: "I was the first black woman to run for speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, and who did she support? She supported this Republican white guy who cut CHIP health insurance for poor children!"

I'd give her some money for that, and I bet I wouldn't be the only one.

Blogger reactions:

Aaron Pena predicts a Craddick victory. Muse hopes he's wrong, but Vince agrees. He also has video from the presser. BOR has a short recap.

Josh Berthune was not impressed.

Hal is cautiously optimistic.

Peggy Fikac notes the lack of names from Pitts and McCall. As it happens, Harvey Kronberg reports that Craddick's spokesperson Alexis DeLee will not be releasing any more of their supporters' names. You can make of that what you will, but the rumors I'm hearing suggest Craddick's support is way down, well under 75. Obviously, we'll know when they vote.

Jason Embry apparently likes doing image searches.

McBlogger cites an AusChron piece about an anti-Craddick PAC that will seek to take on the Craddick Dems in the event he gets re-elected. And he's not impressed with "eating our own" arguments.

In the Pink contributor Fled the Asylum relates a melancholy story about Pete Laney in the days following Craddick's ascension in 2003. We can only hope that someone will have a similar tale to tell about Craddick in the future.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 05, 2007 to That's our Lege