Texas Reps plot to oust their "Auto-Craddick" Speaker
Dec. 26, 2006
By LISA SANDBERG, Austin Bureau
AUSTIN — The lawmaker running against House Speaker Tom Craddick said today he's confident he's already secured the votes to be the next speaker, though he wouldn't say how many pledges he's gotten from members.
"I'm getting a very good response," Brian McCall, R-Plano.
McCall said he's been calling fellow lawmakers since Friday to win backing for his candidacy and that he's been promised support from many of the 109 members who signed pledge cards for Craddick last month. Seventy-six votes are needed to win.
He also said people are fed up with what he characterized as Craddick's "(my) way or the highway" style.
McCall filed the necessary papers for the speaker's race on Friday.
The 16-year House veteran described himself as a social conservative who agrees with Craddick on major policy issues. But he said under his leadership, members would be treated with more respect with him as speaker.
"Members would be allowed to vote their districts and their conscience," he said. "The speaker would take a back seat."
A political consultant close to Craddick, meanwhile, dismissed McCall's chances of prevailing as speaker.
"He's never even been a chairman," Bill Miller said of McCall.
Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, is one of the most liberal House members, but he said he would vote for McCall if speaker candidate and fellow Houston Democrat Rep. Senfronia Thompson releases him to do so.
''Clearly there's momentum for change, and that's what's important here," he said. ''Even though Brian is conservative and a lot more conservative than I am, I think he'll be fair as speaker.
Coleman echoed others who said they are sick of Craddick's ''autocratic'' style.
''Speakers ought to be people who, if the members elect you, you serve the members and the interests of the members,'' he added. ''Craddick has not served the member's interests. He's served his own interests. The members are disposable.''
The House speaker is chosen by 149 other state representatives at the beginning of every legislative session. The speaker appoints legislative committees and influences which bills come to the floor for debate — and which never make it.
Republicans now hold an 81-69 majority in the House.
© 2006 Houston Chronicle: