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The Speaker's Race: Not Craddick-76, Craddick Ceiling-62

by: Phillip Martin

Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 08:00 AM CST

Cartoon image from Gocomics.com.
Not Craddick 76, Craddick Ceiling 62, Toss-Up 12
The traditional media is getting closer to accurately reporting on the Speaker's race math, which is promising to read. There were excellent articles in the Houston Chronicle and the Texas Observer this weekend. Also, we saw Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Bud Kennedy giving it a great whirl:

The list of five Democrats and three Republicans running against Craddick includes conservatives such as Republican Jim Keffer, who represents Granbury, and Burt Solomons of Carrollton. But either would need a centrist majority of both Democrats and Republicans to win.

Correct! Craddick can't win without Democrats, and neither can any Republican. Kennedy went on to mock the recent "OMG the liberals are coming! the liberals are coming!" letter that is floating around, correctly noting that Craddick is beholden to Democrat votes as much as any other Speaker candidate.

Of course, I've argued previously that Democrats won't support Craddick:

For now, let's forget the idea that Democrats will support Craddick. If he can't win any decisive block of support from Democrats (and he can't), no one Democrat should support him (they won't), and there are too many important issues this cycle for anyone to make a power play for their own losing benefit at the expense of good public policy.

But, that's just an argument. Anyone can have an opinion.

The problem is when Kennedy get into some strange cocktail napking math that refutes public records that are out there:

At least eight of the 76 Republicans either think Craddick stinks or are running against him. On the other side of the aisle, eight Democrats think Craddick’s a great guy.

So if everybody votes as expected, the cross-party math shows Craddick clinging to an edge as thin as one vote.

No, no, no, no.

There are 11 Republicans, as I've tallied preivously, that are publicly opposed to Craddick. Again, here are the eleven:

  Republican Source
#1 Rep. Byron Cook
 Personal Privilege Speech
#2 Rep. Gary Elkins
Vote on Geren Amendment
#3 Rep. Charlie Geren
FW Star Telegram, 11/6/08
 Rep. Delwin Jones
Filed for Speaker
Rep. Jim Keffer
Filed for Speaker
 Rep. Edward Kuempel
Vote on Geren Amendment
Rep. Brian McCall
Vote on Geren Amendment
Rep. Tommy Merritt
Filed for Speaker
 Rep. Jim Pitts
Vote on Geren Amendment
#10  Rep. Burt Solomons
Filed for Speaker
Rep. Joe Strauss

Vote on Geren Amendment;
SA Express-News, 11/7/08

Add those 11 to the "64 strong" Democrats, and you have 75 "Not Craddick" Members of the Texas House. Add in Rep. Al Edwards, who e-mailed me to tell me he is not supporting Tom Craddick (so I am taking him at his word), and you have 76 House members that have publicly stated they are not supporting Tom Craddick this election.

Of course, you cannot then attribute the remaining 74  to Craddick's camp (as Kennedy does), because there are still at least 12 "toss-ups" out there that have not definitively publicly declared who they will support:

(Click "There's More" for the rest of the numbers)


Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D)
Statesman EditorialRep. Dukes doesn't want to lose her Chair position; every challenger to Craddick is promising to restore seniority to the Appropriations Committee, so she and Rep. Dutton would actually keep their seats
#2 Rep. Harold Dutton (D)
StatesmanNot committed, though said he "might support Craddick" since it may be the easiest way for Democrats to regain control of the House
#3 Rep.-elect Allen Fletcher (R)
 Burka Post
Fletcher defeated Craddick supporter Van Arsdale in the primary, and has publicly aligned himself with anti-Craddick positions; supported by Dan Patrick, would probably support a strong conservative


 Rep. Helen Giddings (D)
DMN Blog Post
DMN post states that she's meeting with Democrat leaders about who to support for Speaker; definitely still up in the air
Rep. Ryan Guillen (D)
 DMN story
Stated he is undecided; had major headaches having to vote with Craddick on Appropriations last session (Source)
Rep. Mike Hamilton (R)
Houston Chronicle
Stated he is "undecided" on 11/11/08
 Rep. Patricia Harless (R)
 H. Chron;
R Blog
"Refuses to discuss the Speaker's race with anyone" though she had rescinded her pledge to Craddick two years ago when she thought he wouldn't win
 Rep. Ruth McClendon (D)
S.A. Express-News
 Indicated she would support a Democrat if there is a Democrat majority; at least has considered other potential candidates
 Rep.-elect Doug Miller (R)
 New Braunfels
Refused to state publicly who he supported when he defeated staunch Craddick & Leininger Republican Nathan Macias in the primary
 Rep. Aaron Pena (D)
Pena's Blog
Coy, as always, on his website; though he thought a new Speaker would be clear "within moments" of the polls closing, and he correctly predicted a +3 gain for Democrats
#11 Rep. Sylvester Turner (D)
Ethics Commission
A delcared candidate for Speaker. I've argued that he would not support Craddick again, believing that (1) the numbers aren't there and (2) he wouldn't want to risk his leadership on important public policy issues by backing the wrong candidate.
 Rep. Tara Rios Ybarra (D)
No DeclarationStrongly supported by Texans for Lawsuit Reform

Therefore, you have to pull away at least 12 from that "74" tally, which is why you are left with:

Not Craddick 76, Craddick Ceiling 62, Toss-Up 12

Now, I still seriously doubt that Craddick's ceiling is as high as 62 -- more like 42, I'd think, but again -- I can only work with public statements, so we'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

The numbers, as you can see, have remained solid for weeks. Whatever ad campaign Tom Craddick may be trying to start, it's sure not shaking a lot of people out of the trees. And I sitll don't know how he moves any of those 11 Republicans away from him. And there just aren't 11 Democrats to make up the difference -- that's a fact.

Which is why -- twenty-four days after the elections ended -- Tom Craddick still hasn't laid out his numbers.

(Side Note on the Press & the Speaker's Race)

I blasted traditional media pretty hard when I wrote my first Speaker tally post, and rightly so. Presenting Craddick spin as fact was irresponsible. Now, why Dave Carney can be quoted in a newspaper when he has no evidence for his argument but I'm shunned from print quotes despite my numbers...that's a discussion for another time.

Overall, though, I know it's hard for the traditional media to count/track 150 Members of the Texas House. How do you write about a behind-closed-doors race in a public forum, when all you're going to get is spin? However, I think they've done a much better job over the last week or two, where the ridiculousness of Dave Carney-spin is no longer the reality; instead, the actual numbers are the reality. Forgiving Mr. Kennedy for his quick throw-away remark, all the traditional media are doing a much better job at writing about the Speaker's race today than they were three weeks ago.

That's a step in the right direction, not just for the Speaker's race, but for the coverage of Texas politics in general.

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Great work, Phillip keep it up (0.00 / 0)
The traditional media are less able to cover the politics of Texas because of unprofitability. Bureaus are consolidated or shut down. Senior reporters are a bit more senior and perhaps less vigorous in their approach.
Keep the pressure up to report the news instead of just quoting the remarks of the hacks. Imagine if this were a football game and the coverage was limited to comments by the players.
You have reported the shift in Texas politics by covering the events.  

Great continuing analysis (0.00 / 0)
But I think it's worth asking a few questions:  What will Sylvester Turner do if it's clear the Rs will keep a slim majority?  I don't think he can negotiate the level of power he has with another speaker candidate.  When Solomons said "I am terribly, terribly dismayed that ..... apparently we have a handful of Democrats making demands for control of power and clout and title," you don't think he had Turner in mind?  And if Turner drops out, why should we expect Al Edwards to go with anyone other than Craddick?

Finally, the dynamics of whichever R candidate besides Craddick rises to the top may come into play as well.  There are more than a few Rs who are deeply opposed to Craddick returning (whether they've gone public about it or not).  But many of them also have serious misgivings about voting for Keffer, Merritt, or Solomons, for various reasons.  It's quite possible that an R candidate emerges with a weak consensus among the Craddick opposition, but so alienates a few Rs that they simply white light the vote for any candidate on opening day.

Good questions/concerns (0.00 / 0)
1) I've written my thoughts about Rep. Turner here. Basically, I think he is in a position where he cannot deliver enough votes to his former source of power (Speaker Craddick), so he's working on alternative deals.

As for Rep. Solomons quote -- that's an important one, if he's really the best ABC candidate. I don't know who he's referring to specifically. However, if he is referring to Rep. Turner, then it would suggest that Rep. Turner would need to alter his negotiation strategy.

2) Even if Rep.-elect Al Edwards threw his support to Craddick, Craddick would still have to change the minds of at least 13 Members (some Democrat and Republican mix) to push his ceiling back to a winnable majority. That would require a sweep of every toss-up AND one of the previous (strong) opponents of Craddick to pledge support to him. That's a much harder hill to climb than the one facing any ABC candidate.

3) I agree with the challenges any ABC candidate faces. But they are the same as the ones Craddick faces. For a 3-term Speaker to be on the same playing field as untested challengers -- basically, for a Speaker to forfeit the advantage of incumbency -- is a big, big deal.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
Good work (0.00 / 0)
Good work as always.

There's no question that if there were a straight up-or-down vote on Craddick, he'd lose, but in a vote on Craddick vs. Challenger-to-be-Determined, things get more complicated. I think he could possibly still hold on.

But who, then, but Craddick? (0.00 / 0)
There are so many Republicans and just one Democrat.  Which of the Republicans are the Republicans going to support? Which of the Republicans are going to support Turner? In the end, the "ABC" votes are just scattered votes among the various other candidates. Divide and conquer. I suspect some of the Republican candidates are diversions. To divide and conquer. And in the end, most likely everyone will give up and vote for Craddick. He's the only with the most votes so far. Something you have overlooked.  

Nope (0.00 / 0)
Craddick has 13 votes. That's all that have officially declared for him.

This post is not a vote-tally -- it's a declaration of public statements, b/c we can't have a vote tally. Something you have overlooked.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
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