Friday, January 12, 2007

Let the healing begin... "Heel!"

Cap'n Craddick Foils Mutiny


Amy Smith
Illustration by Doug Potter
Austin Chronicle
Copyright 2007

In a marathon opening day, House Speaker Tom Craddick bullied his way to another term Tuesday and then promised a more responsive and inclusive style of leadership in the new legislative session.

"I am humbled by your vote of confidence," he said, after a series of floor maneuvers by his lieutenants left most members with no other choice.

Had the reps been able to cast secret ballots in the speaker's race, it was likely that Rep. Jim Pitts, a Waxahachie Republican and onetime member of Craddick's inner circle, would be the new speaker of the 80th Legislature.

But several Republicans who had privately defected from the Craddick side were not willing to put their necks on the line in a public vote, so Pitts withdrew his challenge, threw his support to Craddick, and told the House, "It's time to heal." And heel they did. Craddick prevailed on a vote of 121-27. Austin Democrat Eddie Rodriguez was the only Central Texas delegate to vote against him.

House members from both parties have long complained, publicly and privately, that Craddick's management style of fear and intimidation makes it difficult for them to vote in the best interests of their districts. Craddick said Tuesday that things would be different this time. "I want to be responsive to your personal needs," he said. – A.S.

© 2007 The Austin Chronicle: