Questions for the speaker’s race 1. Do members trust Chisum? “You know my trustworthiness,” Chisum wrote in his letters to members. But Chisum (along with Swinford) stabbed Laney in the back in 2003, and he stabbed Craddick in the back in 2009, when he told the Star-Telegram that Craddick only had 53 pledges. 2. Do pledges mean anything any more? As far as I’m concerned, the only thing they mean is that a member is showing support for a speaker candidate at the present time. They are subject to revocation. Straus has more than enough pledges to be reelected speaker, but he has to hold them until the vote on the first day of the session. 3. Can money and appointments buy loyalty? Straus has tried to give some plum appointments to his critics and potential adversaries. Sylvester Turner is on the LBB. GOP caucus chairman Larry Taylor is on Sunset. Will Taylor bail on Straus if the going gets rough in the caucus? Will Turner, who used to be the leader of the Craddick D’s? Those are two key members to watch. Will the Democrats stick together? This is not going to be a jihad, as the battle to defeat Craddick was. It is more likely to be an every-man-for-himself free-for-all. A lot of Democrats, including the leadersship trio of Dunnam, Gallego, and Coleman, were very unhappy about their second-tier committee chairmanships. Would they rather have Straus or Chisum? Will the House really elect a rural West Texas speaker? To me, this is the biggest question of all. Can urban and suburban members–D’s and R’s alike–embrace a speaker from a district with more cows than people? Are they willing to let money flow to small rural school districts instead of their own? That’s what is at stake here. Is Texas going to have another rural speaker in 2011? Will the members of the House allow outside groups to influence the speaker’s election? If they do, the members will lose control of the speaker’s race forever. All future speakers will be elected by influence groups and power brokers. That’s really what is at stake in the Straus vs. Chisum race.
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