January 04, 2009
Thus endeth the Tom Craddick era

I still can't believe it's happened.

Rep. Joe Straus trotted out more than enough names of supporters Sunday night to virtually guarantee that lawmakers would elect the San Antonio Republican speaker of the Texas House next week -- assuming they don't waver.

The move came as a key ally of incumbent Tom Craddick said the Midland Republican has dropped his bid to be re-elected leader of the House and has released lawmakers pledged to support him.

"He has withdrawn his candidacy and freed up his pledges," said Rep. Will Hartnett, R-Dallas. He said the "vast bulk" of those who had been pledged to Craddick -- including himself -- are now supporting Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo.

Craddick, who was meeting with supporters at a downtown Austin restaurant this evening, arrived in a white Lexus but continued driving around the block after seeing a media mass gathered at the entrance. Later, at a side entrance, Craddick emerged from the vehicle and tersely said, "We're not talking" before entering the restaurant.

Hartnett said those who had supported Craddick "are regrouping quickly and reaching out to folks that have not been on Craddick's team" to try to win over support for Smithee.

Quite a change in tone for Rep. Hartnett, who had talked a lot of trash in the comments at Burkablog all during this saga, as well as for Craddick spokesperson Alexis DeLee. No worries, though, I see that Rep. Sid Miller has taken up the slack.

Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, tonight dismissed a list of 85 supporters released by Speaker candidate Joe Straus, R-San Antonio.

"I don't think it will matter," Miller said. "The dynamics of the race have changed. It's not a Straus-Craddick race any more. It's a whole new day."

Psst! Hey, Sid! You might want to check your figures. According to Elise Hu, Straus is up to 88 names now, with former Craddick Ds Sylvester Turner and Ryan Guillen, plus Republican Rep.-elect Angie Chen Button jumping ship. That just leaves Al Edwards and Harold Dutton among Democrats still out in non-Straus-land, for those keeping score at home, and it officially removes Turner from the Speaker sweepstakes.

I think at this point I've just about run out of things to worry about. The anti-Craddicks did everything they said they would, and the momentum has been in their favor from the beginning. I suppose it's possible Smithee could woo a few of them, but it's hard to see how he gets past 75 names, and it's hard to see how he could be a unifying force as Craddick's designated alternative. I suppose anything can still happen, but it's stretching my imagination at this point to think of a plausible scenario where Straus fumbles the ball. It's a little weird, but in a very good way. Now we just have to wait and hear what happened behind the scenes. I'm sure the gossip and scuttlebutt will be freely flowing soon.

UPDATE: The Straus number is now 89, I am told.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 04, 2009 to That's our Lege
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