El Paso's five House members sign anti-Craddick pledge as speaker's race intensifies
by David Crowder
Posted on December 29, 2008
Life looks like it's going to change in what has been Tom Craddick’s Texas House of Representatives for the past three legislative sessions.
As speaker since 2003, Craddick of Midland ran the Republican-dominated House by his rules, making enemies who stirred dissent and rose up for an unsuccessful rebellion in the last session.
But the November elections brought Democrats in the House to within two votes of the Republicans, who still hold the narrowest majority possible – 76 to 74 – and Craddick’s chances of holding on to the speakership appear to be slipping.
El Paso's five-member House delegation, all Democrats now, have joined the ranks of other House members – now 76 strong – in pledging not to vote for Craddick.
That list includes 64 Democrats and 12 Republicans, said El Paso Democrat Joe Pickett, who shares an apartment with one of the Republican candidates for speaker, Burt Solomons, R- Carrollton, whom he is supporting.
“There is no book on how to become speaker, but most of the members feel it needs to be decided before Jan. 13 when the Legislature convenes,” Pickett said. “I think there will be a meeting of the cardinals, the Republican leadership, and I think white smoke will rise by Friday.”
Whomever the next speaker is, Picket said, things will be different.
“No one’s going to have a lock on anything with both parties almost equal,” Pickett said.
And he is confident that the El Paso delegation, which hasn’t been all Democrats for 30 years, has little to worry about by uniting against Craddick.
“It will be hard to pick on El Paso, even if Craddick becomes speaker, because things are so equal,” he said. “El Paso doesn’t have to worry about being written off.
“It might have been different if (Republican) Dee Margo had won, but because it’s a five-member Democratic delegation now, it’s actually better for us … because it will be harder to create a wedge and put one person (from the delegation) over everyone else.”
Margo defeated El Paso’s maverick Republican, Pat Haggerty, in the party primary and then lost to a first-time Democratic candidate, Joe Moody, in the most expensive House race in El Paso’s history.
Of El Paso's House members, the only one whom it has been suggested might voluntarily return to the Craddick fold is Innocente “Chente” Quintanilla.
But he insists that he has not flinched once since signing on with the anti-Craddick Ds after the election.
“I don’t think my stance ever softened,” he said. “I never took my name off the list. It has always been on the list.”
Quintanilla did say that if comes down to a Republican candidate for speaker who can’t win and Craddick, he’d probably go with Craddick. He said the same about a candidate who knows little about El Paso, such as Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown.
“But I don’t think he’s going to make it,” Quintanilla said of Craddick. “Too many of his lieutenants have come out openly against him.”
Though Quintanilla hasn’t committed, he said he likes Solomons.
“The question is, will he be friendly to El Paso,” Quintanilla said. “I have a feeling he would be because he and Joe are very close.”
* * *
To reach David Crowder, call (915) 351-0605, ext. 30 or write to email@example.com.
Most Viewed Stories
- Sex clubs and swingers in El Paso
- FORUM Arts and Culture: Contemporary Art (and Money) Matter
- ABC-7 reporter and photographer handcuffed, detained while covering I-10 wreck
- KVIA's Darren Hunt files $450,000 claim against city and police dept.
- Bad Moon Rising: The Crisis in Ciudad Juarez
- Juarez Roundup
- Tijuana Prison Massacre
- Judge Albert Armendariz Federal Courthouse "a fitting tribute to a hometown hero"
- How to Make Copper
- Downtown Diary: Where the Prostitutes Roam