Pete Laney

On being a Democrat (but not Speaker).

Evan Smith: Are you leaving the Legislature, or has the Legislature left you?

Pete Laney: Well, everything changes. The Legislature changes with every leadership change. There’s been a lot of change; it’s different now. But there’s always a time to do something else. I decided it was my time.

ES: How do you feel about this particular set of leaders—or this particular leader, by which I mean Speaker Tom Craddick?

PL: Each individual leader has his own style, but the membership lets that style exist. At least 76 of the 150 members dictate who sits in that position. I was very honored—a boy from Hale Center, a town of 2,200 people—to be in the office of Speaker of the House, but it wasn’t because of me; it was because of the other members of the House. I was their second choice. They were their own first choice, but I was their second choice.

ES: So whatever else you can say about the way the House is being run, enough of the members buy into that philosophy.

PL: Or have let it become the norm.

ES: But you’re not one of the members who buy into it.

PL: I didn’t run the House like it’s being run now. My take on running it is that you do it in such a way that the members are able to represent their districts to the best of their ability. Their first obligation is to their districts. They’re not there to represent the Speaker, and they’re not there to represent a political party. Now, you can’t make them represent their districts, and you can’t make them work hard, but you can have a system whereby all 149 have the same equal

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