The Democratic Pledge: why it won't work
Tue November 4, 2008 7:29 am

Why is it that the Democrats insist on trying to act bossy? Is it genetic? Can't they help themselves? The demand upon party discipline before they have won a majority is foolish. My last post on this subject was, I have to admit, a bit on the hysterical side, and I'm afraid I'm about to go postal again. Why are Anchia and Castro trying to enforce a code of conduct on the caucus? I can tell you the answer. The Democratic caucus is deeply divided.

No matter what they say, no matter what Karen Brooks writes, everybody knows it is true. There are two major fissures. One is the Craddick D's. They fear retribution from leadership of the caucus, and I don't blame them. The leadership decided to try to defeat apostates, and they have been successful. But there is a price to pay for that success, and it is that the Craddick D's don't trust them. Turner & Co. will probably provide the votes to elect Craddick to a fourth term. The second fissure is between the Dunnam-Gallego-Coleman leadership team and rank-and-file members of the caucus who want to be independent agents. The leadership is very effective on the House floor when it comes to tormenting Craddick, but they cannot hold the caucus together. Resentments run deep.

If I were in charge of the Democratic caucus, and I wanted to elect a Democratic speaker, I wouldn't demand that every Democrat sign a pledge:

"As a signatory to the Democratic Caucus Pledge, you agree to:

1) Support a Democrat for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. In the event that Democrats win less than 75 seats, Republican candidates for Speaker will also be invited to solicit support from the Democratic Caucus pursuant to the process set forth below.

2) Participate in a Democratic Caucus meeting scheduled by the Democratic Caucus Chair on Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 2:00pm (the “Caucus Meeting”) to begin the process of choosing a Democrat for Speaker of the House...."

What I would do is recognize the reality of the situation. It is this: Sylvester Turner holds the cards. There are at least ten Craddick D's left:

Turner
Dukes
Jones McClendon
Giddings
Pena
Flores
Edwards
King
Guillen
Dutton

And that doesn't account for Deshotel, Chavez, maybe Rios Ybarra. And there may be others. Terral Smith has been working hard to recruit more.

I believe that the only way the Democrats can elect a speaker in 2009 is to cut a deal with the Craddick D's. That deal has to include (1) amnesty; (2) a major role for Turner (speaker/appropriations/calendars); and (3) decent appointments for the Craddick D's. That is the reality of the situation.

Forcing members to sign pledges can have only one outcome: Tom Craddick wins again.

[This is the end of my post. The remainder of the pledge, contained in the letter Anchia and Castro sent to all Democrats, appears below. I am indebted to Burnt Orange Report for their publication of the letter, which they originally attribute to the American-Statesman.]

3) Hear presentations from all of the Democratic candidates that have filed papers declaring their candidacy for Speaker prior to the Democratic Caucus meeting.

4) Participate in a Democratic Caucus straw poll to help choose a Democrat for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. The method of straw poll voting shall be agreed upon in advance by a majority of the Democratic Speaker candidates and approved by the membership at the Caucus Meeting. The voting system may include successive straw poll voting rounds to arrive broad consensus among the Democratic Caucus.

5) Vote a private ballot in the straw poll that will be counted by a group of three disinterested and respected Democrats.

6) Remain present in the Caucus Meeting room until the vote is taken and tabulated and a winner is announced.

7) Emerge united and prepared to work toward electing a Democratic Speaker. It is our hope that Democratic Speaker Candidates receiving the fewest votes during each round of voting would agree in advance to withdraw their candidacies.

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