This is the point in the legislative cycle when the reality of the misery of the legislative session starts to kick in, and rumors begin to circulate about who may and may not return. Pitts has said that he intends to run again, but he could face a tough reelection campaign if the talk that Mark Stiles may run has any validity. If Pitts retires, a likely candidate to replace him as chairman of Appropriations would be John Otto. Other possible departures are BFFs Solomons and Pickett. Weber is gearing up to run for Congress. Weber and Congress ... yeah, that's a perfect fit. Kelly Hancock is running for the Fort Worth state Senate seat and will be favored to win. Larry Taylor is mulling a race for Mike Jackson's Senate seat, if Jackson goes to Congress.
The departure of Hancock and Taylor would remove two of the likeliest threats to Straus's reelection. Hancock was probably the greater threat, because he was effectively the policy coordinator for the Republican caucus. If Taylor runs for senator, there will be a power vacuum in the Republican caucus. One possible candidate to fill the void is Jimmy Don Aycock. Myra Crownover, the current vice-chair, is another possibility, although the caucus rules do not provide that the vice-chair automatically moves up. Then it will be up to Straus how he wants to manage the caucus. There are three choices: (1) Keep the caucus weak, as Laney did; (2) Control the caucus, as Craddick did; (3) Let the caucus run wild, as Straus did -- and the result was ugly.
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