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More on Turner for Speaker

Burka thinks the Turner for Speaker campaign is a stalking horse.

There’s no way for Sylvester to win. Republicans can’t vote for a Democrat for speaker. The best Turner can hope for is to hold the Craddick Ds (who may not be as solid as they were before the blowups) and to add some of the WD-40s and some of the more independent Ds like Strama. Let’s say he can get to 25-30 supporters. That gives him a chance to be kingmaker, but not king–and we know who he’ll be kingmaker for. More likely, this is not a play for speaker at all. It is a play to protect the Craddick Ds from a primary challenge. Turner’s candidacy gives the Craddick Ds the opportunity to pledge to a Democrat. This removes the main argument that can be used against the Craddick Ds in the primary. Then, safely reelected, they can deliver their votes to Craddick in January 09.

Much to think about in there. One point I want to make is that of all the Craddick Ds, I think Turner is the least vulnerable to a primary challenge. Unlike some of his Craddick-crat colleagues, Turner has a real record of accomplishment (think HB109, for starters), and is very well liked in his district. He’s not an apostate like Ron Wilson was. He’s not an out-of-touch relic like Al Edwards was. Mounting a primary challenge against him would be very difficult. While I can see him laying down cover for some of his colleagues who’ll need the help, like Kevin Bailey and Dawnna Dukes, I seriously doubt he himself has anything to worry about. As such, I reject the notion that he’s doing this to protect himself next March.

On a side note, be sure to check out this video at BOR that compiles editorial reactions to Tom Craddick’s power grab. Good stuff.

UPDATE: Two points from the Chron story, which I didn’t get to earlier. One is further evidence that it won’t be Sylvester Turner unifying Democrats in his Speaker’s bid:

“Mr. Turner has worked against the interest of Democrats by propping up Mr. Craddick. That is not something that is forgotten,” said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston.

Coleman, who has had differences with Turner, said he doesn’t believe Turner can win. It takes 76 votes to win in the 150-member chamber. The current makeup of the House is 81 Republicans and 69 Democrats.

“It’s not because Sylvester isn’t smart and has the tenure. It’s because he’s made bad choices,” Coleman said, adding that “if Sylvester is a serious candidate, Craddick is dead. He is defeated now.”

From your lips to God’s ears, Garnet. Until somebody else actually gets elected Speaker, I’m going to assume that Tom Craddick isn’t really dead but merely comic book dead. It’s too risky to think otherwise.

Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, Appropriations Committee chairman, said he’ll support Craddick if he runs for re-election as speaker but that he hadn’t heard from Craddick about his plans.

He also said it’s possible that a Democrat could be elected to the top spot in the House, noting the group trying to unseat Craddick came from both parties. He said he believes there are Republicans who would vote for a Democrat for speaker.

So Chisum disagrees with Burka about Republicans voting for a Democrat for Speaker. We’ll see who’s right. For what it’s worth, I can’t speak for Republican primary voters, but to revisit the cases of Ron Wilson and Al Edwards again, it wasn’t their support of Tom Craddick that galvanized the opposition that eventually ousted them. Wilson was a huge enabler of the 2003 re-redistricting, and basically spent that entire year openly pissing on the Democratic Party and his colleagues. The campaign ads against him wrote themselves. Edwards made some bad votes in 2005, but the real clincher was the Sexy Cheerleading bill, which turned him into a national laughingstock. Point I’m making is simply that one’s vote for Speaker, at least historically, has not been that big a deal in and of itself. Admittedly, things are different now (thanks again, Tom!), and given where we are today I’d probably consider a vote for Craddick in 2009 to be an unforgivable sin for a Democrat. Whether the Republicans see it the same way from their perspective, I couldn’t say.

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  1. PDiddie says:

    Right you are (and Burka as well).

    This play is about fortifying the Craddick coalition. I don’t think Sly sees the crumbling, but the more disquieting thing that’s he’s doing is keeping all his eggs in the one basket.

    If the Democrats capture the House next year, what are his options beyond apologies?

  2. Temple Houston says:

    Sylvester Turner is merely reverting to the role he favors in Houston municipal elections: splitting the liberal vote to aid conservatives. Coleman is very right about Turner actions in the past. Turner is the most deserving of the Craddick D’s to have a primary opponent. Yes, he might not be defeated, but it might help focus his thoughts on the consequences of his actions. It has been too long that he has gotten a free ride on his “bad decisions.” By the way, the comments I have heard about Al Edwards were that he was “always on the wrong page” and clueless, characterizations that goes back to his first term in office.

  3. marie says:

    I agree that this is an attempt to save the Craddick D’s from primary opponents. Turner has had several oppotunities to separate himself from Craddick and simply chose not to.