A meeting is scheduled this afternoon at the building occupied by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. It is probably taking place as I write. My information is that representatives of Straus and some of his adversaries, including Michael Quinn Sullivan, are having discussions that could result in the shaping of a Republican agenda by mutual consent. GOP caucus chair Larry Taylor is said to be in the meeting. Straus was not included at last report but may arrive later. Clearly, some Republicans are concerned about what a prolonged speakers race could do to GOP plans for the upcoming session. As they should be. My view of the meeting is that it really doesn’t matter what the Chisum cabal does at this point. He and his allies have been trying to stir up the far right for weeks and as far as I can tell, the only member they may have won to their cause is Riddle, and that is unconfirmed. The Chisum candidacy has gone nowhere. It’s not going anywhere. If necessary, the Straus team can dredge up oppo research about Chisum’s spending when he was chair of Appropriations in 2007–spending increases and oodles of earmarks for Craddick in Midland. I think that the Berman and Sid Miller exchange of letters ended the speakers race for all practical purposes. Berman was hostile and hysterical about his fellow members, engaging in name-calling (RINO!)and alienating the very people Chisum needs if he is to win, while Miller was calm and statesmanlike (not a word I thought I would ever use about Sid, but good for him). The anti-Straus blitz by the far right has not worked, and the Cabal has had so little success that I would be surprised if their campaign can be sustained until Thanksgiving. Leaving personalities aside (Chisum, Berman, Straus), I think that everyone whose sanity is intact should root against the Cabal. Chisum engineered a frontal assault on House tradition. They sought to take the power to choose the speaker away from the members and transfer it to ideological groups. They want total one-party control of committees, which is the Washington model they profess to hate. This is not the Texas way, and I believe–and certainly hope–it is destined to fail.
Politics & Policy