The sweet sound of dissension in the ranks

Time once again to look at reasons why the upcoming special session on school finance is going to be a barnburner. The Express News hits most of the high notes here.

“Collegiality is strained,” said veteran Rep. Pat Haggerty, R-El Paso, who narrowly survived a GOP challenge himself.

Some House members may want to kill each other, he said, although the more likely outcome will be members killing each other’s bills.

“There’s a lot of discontent,” said Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, who had no primary foe but was with Leininger-targeted Rep. Carter Casteel of New Braunfels on election night.


The infighting made it harder for Republicans to work together because “once you start a trend like that, there may be payback,” said Republican consultant Royal Masset.

“I don’t see how anything changed except they’re all madder at each other than they were before. If anything, it’s more difficult,” he said.

Masset figures lawmakers will do the bare minimum to satisfy the court ruling on school finance.

Harvey Kronberg, editor of the nonpartisan online political newsletter Quorum Report, said the main lesson of the primary is this: “When in doubt, vote your district. On the House side, all those freshmen and sophomores increasingly understand there may be a price to pay to giving the speaker a vote simply to move the process.”

El Paso Republican Haggerty agreed, saying members now realize they “will have to pay for hard votes.”

The House is an “immensely fractured” body, Kronberg said.

“The speaker’s power until now was his ability to rein in and direct the (Republican) caucus. … The speaker’s inability to (stop members from endorsing GOP colleagues’ challengers) and his unwillingness to put any of his own money into defending incumbents did not go unnoticed.

“Old-timers know one of the speaker’s primary jobs is to protect the institution and to protect the members,” Kronberg said.

I don’t think it’s so much a question any more of if Craddick could be dethroned as Speaker. At this point in time, it’s at least theoretically possible, which is something you could not have said in 2005. The stumbling block is going to be convincing an alternative Republican to put his or her neck on the block and announce a challenge to Craddick. As long as it’s a close call, I think no one will want to take that risk. If Al Edwards loses his April runoff to Borris Miles and if the Dems do pick up a few more seats in November, then the likelihood increases dramatically. (West Texas rep and Craddick acolyte Scott Campbell is also in a runoff, and he’s less likely to survive than Edwards is.) And of course, whatever armbreaking Craddick has to do in the special session to get a bill passed may come back to bite him later, too.

Link via Matt. For more tea-leaf-reading on the primary results, see Chris Bell‘s optimistic take and Greg‘s somewhat gloomier outlook.

Finally, in fairness, I should note that House Democrats, or at least the El Paso contingent, have their own share of kissing and making up to do, too. Hey, misery loves company, right? Link via South Texas Chisme.

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