The Cracks Are Growing

Posted in 80th Legislature, Around The State, Commentary, Elections, Had Enough Yet?, The Lege at 10:22 am by wcnews

The TO Blog does the best job of wrapping up what the political implications of Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s sleazy actions will be, A Tuesday He’d Like to Forget. Some excerpts below:

Dewhurst was heavy-handed and combative, and picked an unnecessary fight with the Senate’s most senior member. Worst of all for Republicans, his mismanagement of the floor action cost them a golden opportunity at passing HB 218. With Democrats hunkered down in response to the threat, Dewhurst isn’t likely to see another opportunity like Tuesday’s.

His Tom Craddick impression would have won points with GOP leaders if he’d gotten the bill through. What made the day a total loss for Dewhurst was his inability to stay the course, and be the decider, long enough to get the bill to the floor. Dewhurst was by turns lax in his management of the time-critical situation, and conciliatory with those he slighted.


When the vote did come up, Sen. Glen Hegar wasn’t on the floor to vote with other Republicans, something easily prevented by better communication from the top. Benkiser, and other results-oriented GOP leaders, will want to know why Dewhurst saw fit to take his sweet time to finally bring up the bill, and didn’t have his bloc of Republican votes in line.

Instead, to keep his two-thirds Republican majority, Dewhurst took advantage of Democrat John Whitmire’s momentary absence from the floor when the clerk called his name. Whitmire had registered his vote before leaving, as is common practice in the Senate, but Dewhurst said the vote didn’t count.


Whitmire put it more succinctly to Dewhurst on the Senate floor. “Y’all don’t have to win this way,” the Senator said. At Whitmire’s objections, Dewhurst first tried a lame attempt at saying he was just following the rules. “We called your name several times. I gaveled the vote,” Dewhurst said — an argument about as convincing as “No passbacks, times two!” on the playground.

After threatening to have Whitmire removed from the floor, Dewhurst had a shaky grip on his composure. He mistakenly called Fraser “Dean,” (Whitmire’s title) instead of “Senator,” he slammed the gavel down to coax senators into their seats, and his voice quavered as he offered a second roll call vote.

What Dewhurst is trying to do is walk that fine line between, giving something to the “wing-nuts” to placate them (Voter IDiocy) - which he probably doesn’t agree with - while trying not to seem like he’s pandering, or a “wing-nut” himself. Give something to the base for the primary but keep to the center for the general. Which will prove tough, if not impossibile. He’s can’t get Texas Rush out of his rearview mirror, and the GOP primary for governor in 2010 will be bloody.

Deshurst wasn’t the GOP base’s ideal candidate back in 2002 but he was the only one that could win at that time. If a “wing-nut” would have run, and without Dewhurst and his money, John Sharp is, more than likely, in his second term as Lt. Gov., Redistricting never would have happened, and Voter IDiocy wouldn’t stand a chance in the Senate.

I just hope that Paul Burka will heap as much derision on the right-wing bloggers, as he did on BOR, for what they will do to Dewhurst for not meeting their benchmarks on voter suppression. (By the way Paul, why did you pull the comments from that post?)

The political implications from this are contained in GOP chair Tina Benkiser’s comment form earlier this session.

“He needs to make sure it happens,” Tina Benkiser, chairwoman of the Republican Party of Texas, said Wednesday. “We expect our Republican leaders to pass this legislation; it is supported by all the people.”

There is no “wiggle room” in that statement and that’s why Dewhurst pulled such a sleazy ploy yesterday. In an attempt to make himself look powerful - and a win at all costs cheater which the “wing-nuts” love - he instead failed, now looks weak, and has pissed off all, Democrats and Republicans, of the Senate. He’s got three and a half years to make up for it, but expectations are even higher now.

For a full wrap-up from all the state papers click here.

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