A reader posted a comment last night that raises the issue of whether Tom Craddick won the speakership because of his intimidation tactics:
“The Legislature set a fine example for Texas children – elect the playground bully Student Body President. He will punish you if you don’t. Another feckless performance by our public servants in the House.”
Fear is certainly one of the reasons for Craddick’s victory, maybe even the biggest reason. But it isn’t the only reason. The Republican members who were on the outside during the Laney speakership came to regard him as their leader and speaker-apparent. He sacrificed his position as a committee chairman to work for a Republican majority. He led them out of the wilderness. Example: Dianne Delisi. That’s one reason. Another is ideology. Craddick has always been a staunch fiscal conservative who is pro-business (especially his businesses). Jim Pitts is more of a moderate. He was not a good fit with the typical member of the Republican caucus, who is very conservative. Example: most of the hard-right freshman class of 2003. Another reason is partisanship. Craddick is a polarizing politician (and the Democratic leadership has responded in kind), and debate in the House frequently occurs along partisan lines. Republicans want to win. Winning requires discipline, a Craddick specialty. Finally–and I know most of my readers will think I have lost my mind–Craddick can be personally charming when he wants to be.
Craddick has alienated many Rs by acting simultaneously as speaker, majority leader, and whip, demanding that they vote as he wishes, not as they think their constituents would wish. My point is simply that there is much more to Craddick’s success than bullying.