In response to my previous posting, “More (or Less) on the Speaker’s Race,” I received an e-mail saying that Brian McCall had filed the requisite statement of intention to run for speaker. At about the same time, a House member e-mailed TEXAS MONTHLY editor Evan Smith saying the same thing. Rather than post an unconfirmed report, I contacted McCall, who confirmed the reports.
There is nothing about the filing on the Ethics Commission Web Site, but candidates can file by mail, in which case the official candidacy will not become apparent any sooner than the next business day after Christmas. Both the 25th and the 26th are official state holidays. A candidate cannot spend money on a speaker’s race before filing. However, when the papers are mailed, the filing is deemed to have occurred on the date of the postmark.
As for handicapping the race, it is generally believed that the Democrats will have to provide 60 votes for a challenger to Craddick. What do the Democrats want? Jim Dunnam has told me previously, “We just want to be able to participate. And that’s what the Republicans want too.” Craddick will not win on loyalty; he’ll have to win on the threat that any member who opposes him could face a primary opponent backed by six-figure warchests provided by Leininger et al. But the big donors also need to consider whether Craddick is a liability to continued Republican control of the House, as he certainly proved to be in the November election. And it is possible that threats may have the effect of driving members into McCall’s camp.