Is it possible that the Democrats–can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? Some have their noses out of joint because McCall and Pitts did not consult them first before making their alliance? Well, if anybody could blow it, it’s this bunch. I’m reminded of the time when Patti Gray had a compromise worked out on the parental notification abortion bill in 1999 and Vilma Luna and Yvonne Davis torpedoed it by complaining that they hadn’t been consulted and the Republicans ended up with a stronger bill than they could have ever hoped for.

The Ds played it smart, right to the end. They didn’t make any outrageous demands about chairmanships (despite what Republicans said)–only that Milton Reiser, a Republican hatchet man, be fired from his position as head of the Legislative Council and that parliamentarian Denise Davis be replaced. Reister can’t be fired without the agreement of Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst. Then they blew it. But then, so did Pitts. He was smart enough to mention Senfronia Thompson at his press conference when he announced for speaker. He should have called her immediately after cementing his alliance with McCall. For that matter, McCall should have told him. One of the disadvantages of trying to overthrow the government is that the leader has people around him who are experienced and who know how to win. The insurgents don’t have the expertise, and they don’t know how to win. All they know is how to throw bombs.

Now the Democrats whose noses are out of joint have managed to create a situation in which Republicans who might embrace Pitts have TWO reasons not to abandon Craddick: first, that there are too many Democrats in the Pitts coalition, the other that there might be too few.

I will say this unequivocally: If 4 p.m. comes and goes without Pitts laying out his votes and the Democrats backing him up, Tom Craddick will be speaker, and not just speaker, but in better shape than he was before.