Lege articles - while they’re away

Posted in 81st Legislature, Around The State, Commentary, The Lege, Uncategorized at 3:21 pm by wcnews

With the legislature gone for most of the week here are a few articles to read.

The AAS has a good article on Jim Dunnam, Waco lawmaker played big role in Craddick’s ouster, and the behind the scenes maneuvering to get the list of 64 Democrats that pledged to oppose Craddick “under any circumstances.”

How did Dunnam do it? As always, he improvised.

On Nov. 5, the day after the elections, House Democrats were giddy. They had whittled the Republican majority to two seats and, thanks to a recount in a Dallas-area race, had an outside chance of pulling even.

However, their four-hour caucus meeting that day wasn’t going very well. They couldn’t agree on how to oust Craddick. They got diverted with a debate about whom to support. A handful in the room were Craddick loyalists.

“Time was our enemy,” Dunnam said.

He hoped that a Republican opponent to Craddick could come up with enough supporters to defeat Craddick with the help of the Democrats that very day.

“If someone showed up with the wedding ring, we’d talk,” he said. “It became apparent we weren’t going to get the call.”

A fallback was for Democrats to sign a one-line pledge to oppose Craddick “under any circumstances.”

Some in the crowd balked.

“It seemed the Democrats were doing all the heavy lifting,” said Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio, who hesitated to sign. “I wanted to be sure my GOP colleagues were as committed.”

Dunnam sensed an opportunity slipping away. He stood up, pulled a blank sheet of paper out of his pocket, signed it and declared that he would publicly release his pledge to oppose Craddick whether the group signed one or not.

It was vintage Dunnam.

And it worked. The dynamics of the meeting changed. Sixty-one of the House’s 74 Democrats signed the one-line pledge. (Three more would sign over the next two days.)


The credit, Dunnam said, goes to the caucus members who trusted one another.

“We don’t deliver people. It doesn’t work. They’ve got to come on their own — for their own reasons. The bond is stronger.”

Dunnam, as chair of the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, and many, many others, deserve credit for the gains in House seats over the last three election cycles. And bringing about the change in House leadership. The speculation is ongoing about what that change could mean for Democrats in the future, House Dems could face hard choice with Straus in two years.

Democrats in the Texas House like new Republican Speaker Joe Straus — the session’s opening day was a lovefest — partly because he is a nice guy but mainly because he isn’t Tom Craddick.

The same Democrats whose support was key to putting San Antonio’s Straus in power may even still like him when the session ends June 1, assuming he is the even-handed, fair-minded speaker he promises to be.

But, politics being a fickle endeavor, will the Democrats, now outnumbered 76-74, make a move to dump him in favor of one of their own if they win control of the House in the 2010 elections?

While the traditional media like the theme that Straus is the Speaker because of the Democrats, everyone knows the Democrats didn’t have enough votes to choose the Speaker.

Speculation is fun, but like the post below, we need to get through this session and the 2010 election, before an educated guess can be made as to whether Straus, or anyone else will be the Speaker of the 82nd Legislature. One more on “Craddick politics” moving to the Senate, Dems winners as GOP senators push to pass voter ID bill.

Apparently unaware that average folk are tired of brazen power plays and politicians who don’t get it that it’s about the economy, every Senate Republican except Dallas’ John Carona circumvented long-standing legislative protocol to address a bill that solves no crisis.

The Republican majority — in its first act of the session — suspended the rule requiring the acquiescence of two-thirds of the body to bring a bill to the floor in order to ensure passage of a so-called voter ID law.

The proposed law would require Texans to show a photo ID before being allowed to vote.

Republicans, who used to run circles around Democrats in the political message department, took this issue up before addressing job creation, cash-strapped public schools and soaring higher education costs.

And for what? There is no evidence that unauthorized immigrants are voting even in a trickle in Texas.

Last year, the Bexar County district attorney’s office completed a 16-month investigation into illegal voting. It resulted in misdemeanor perjury charges against two people — both of whom are U.S. citizens.

To boot, their cases had nothing to do with voting, but rather lying about citizenship status to get out of jury duty.

It’s one thing for Senate Republicans to push a bill attacking this “problem” at some point during the session. But to start things off with such a tone-deaf message makes political life infinitely easier for Democrats in the long run.

Until the finely orchestrated campaign of President-elect Barack Obama, Democrats struggled in years past to keep up with the Republican PR machine.

Things changed as the economy soured and as Republicans ratcheted up the harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Being seen as authoritarian, changing the rules in mid-stream, and reinstituting the “tyranny of the majority” - not minority - is what’s responsible for the losses that the GOP has suffered recently in Texas. If that’s what their playbook will continue to consist of, then it’s likely Democrats will continue to make gains.

1 Comment »

  1. Amerloc said,

    January 19, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    “We don’t deliver people. It doesn’t work. They’ve got to come on their own”

    We have to remember that, or we’ll become Republicans.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.