May 15, 2007
Keffer files for Speaker

No maybes about it, we have ourselves an official, unprecedented-for-this-time-of-year Speaker's race. Via Quorum Report, here's Jim Keffer's statement:

"State Representative Jim Keffer (R-Eastland) announced today that he has filed his candidacy paperwork for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives for the 81st Regular Session which will begin in January, 2009.

"Keffer said he will formerly announce his candidacy for Speaker at the Texas House Republican Caucus meeting scheduled for early this afternoon.

"During the past few days, a majority of the members of the Texas House have agreed that we need a new Speaker and most have stated that they would prefer the selection of a new Speaker upon adjournment of the Regular Session rather than by placing a call on the Speaker during the session."

"Keffer also challenged incumbent Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick to publicly join with him in committing to a three-term Speaker limit.

"In my opinion, Speaker Craddick needs to announce that he will not seek another term and let the members pursue a new Speaker's race," said Keffer. "However, if Craddick does pursue another term, I will aggressively challenge him and will welcome others to also enter the Speaker's race."

"Keffer also said he will pursue a House Resolution for a three-term limit for the Speaker's office to ensure that the power of the Speaker's office is used for the purpose of public service and nothing more.

"Craddick was first elected House Speaker in 2003 and is currently serving his third term that he narrowly won after a strong challenge by Plano Republican Brian McCall and Waxahachie Republican Jim Pitts this past January.

"Since Craddick took over as Speaker, Republicans have lost 7 seats in the Texas House and several Democrats who have supported Craddick have been defeated in Democratic primaries. Craddick has also been the first Speaker in over 35 years to be over-ruled on a point of order by the Texas House membership which occurred in early May. Upon completion of the current term, Craddick will have served 40 years in the Texas House.

"I am committed to the three-term limit and if elected by my colleagues I am committed to being a Republican House Speaker in a Republican majority who will honor the rules, respect each member's district, and pass good public policy."

As an aside, sources close to Keffer tell us that he has received calls from supporters in the district telling him that Craddick is attempting to recruit and fully fund a challenger for the next election.

QR notes in a subsequent item that Keffer filed today because "another House member had contacted Granbury mayor David Southern on behalf of Craddick in an effort to recruit him for a challenge. The member assured Southern that Craddick would fully fund the challenge to Keffer." Southern then confirmed the story to Keffer, but said he wouldn't run against him. What a tangled web, eh? Once again, stay tuned. And wonder how next week, the last week before sine die, could get any more action-packed.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 15, 2007 to That's our Lege