Not Much There There For Perry, Dewhurst & Craddick

Posted in 80th Legislature, Commentary, Around The State, The Lege at 9:19 am by wcnews

A good story by R.G. Ratcliffe, Leaders in Austin take it on the chin, on the lack of accomplishments this session and the failure of the big three Republican “leaders” - Perry, Dewhurst, and Craddick - to get anything serious done this session. That’s what happens when we have a governor that got 39% of the vote, an ineffective Lt. Gov trying to plow the ground for a run at the governor’s office, a neutered Speaker, and a House gone mad.

This legislative session has dished out repeated helpings of defeat and disgruntlement to Texas’ top political leaders — along with a fine dessert of humble pie.

The legislative agendas of Gov. Rick Perry, House Speaker Tom Craddick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, all Republicans, have been swept away or reduced by recalcitrant lawmakers and explosive, unexpected issues such as the scandals of the Texas Youth Commission.

Promised accomplishments such as property tax appraisal reform apparently won’t happen before the session ends May 28.


Perry received a legislative rebuff on building toll roads and selling the state lottery. He also saw his mandate that girls receive the HPV vaccine overturned.

Little has come of the governor’s higher education reforms. And if Perry gets his cancer research fund, it will be paid for with $3 billion in debt interest that Texas taxpayers will cover for the next 20 years.


“On May 29th, we’re going to see the governor’s agenda has been successful in many different venues,” [ Perry spokeswoman Krista Moody] said. “He laid out a wide array of health care initiatives, and many of them, if not all of them, have gained momentum in both chambers: Medicaid reform and a funding pool for the uninsured and nursing initiatives.”

With all his initiatives from his SOS speech dead (lottery sale, cancer research, etc..), unable to get anything serious passed, the HPV debacle, and being forced to play defense on corporate toll roads, all in all it’s been a bad session for Rick Perry.


Dewhurst had greater success pushing his priorities through, but critics say his agenda was small and geared toward an expected 2010 run for governor. And then last week, he created bipartisan anger among senators with a ham-handed power play that failed to pass a voter identification bill.


Dewhurst said he believes complaints about the session are misplaced: “From where I sit, the Senate and Legislature is having a good session.”

In an attempt to tack to the right for the 2010 gubernatorial primary, he has instead come off looking like a panderer, not to mention weak and ineffective. Not a good combination. Especially with Texas Rush breathing down his neck.


The biggest ongoing leadership story of the session has been Craddick’s struggle to hold onto power.

He became a nicer Tom Craddick after fending off January’s re-election challenge. This emboldened opponents, allowing bills carried by his lieutenants to die or get stuck with major amendments.


Craddick declined an interview request. One of his closest allies, Rep. David Swinford, R-Dumas, said Craddick has tried to be a “kinder and gentler” leader this session.

But handling a $10 billion budget shortfall in 2003 without raising taxes and then reforming school finance and cutting property taxes required a strong leader, Swinford said.

“Do you think he could have been soft and sweet and cuddly and gotten that done?” he asked.

It’s not 2003 anymore Rep. Swinford, and many in the House have moved on. Well what’s left to say about Tom? All he can hope for is that a “weak” Presidential candidate won’t keep the base home in ‘08 and cause a further dwindling of the GOP House majority. (Although Clay Robison thinks Hillary could be a boon for Craddick). How many seats does the GOP have to lose for Craddick to be sent packing? And effect will primary fights in many GOP House districts, as the Speakers race plays out through the GOP primary, have on the House and the Speakers Race in ‘09?

Off The Kuff has commentary too, As the session winds down, especially on the Dewhurst v. Texas Rush battle.

While that is certainly true, it’s also true that the 2010 GOP primary candidate that Dewhurst has (supposedly, at least) been preparing for is none other than Sen. Dan Patrick himself. As such, letting him have his say here without at least acknowledging that is rather like having James Carville pontificate on the state of the Democratic Presidential primary without disclosing who he supports.

I should note that while the common wisdom is that Patrick wants to run for Governor in 2010, Paul Burka thinks he’s positioning himself to run for Dewhurst’s spot instead. There’s a lot of sense in that, though I think Danno is the type who’d rather be in the top spot. Still, worth keeping in mind. Democrats better be prepared for that possibility.

There will be much, much more pre-post and post session analysis to come.

1 Comment »

  1. Eye on Williamson » Texas GOP In Disarray As Session Comes To A Close said,

    May 21, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    […] “do-nothing” legislative session so […]

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