Every now and then, the House of Representatives finds itself involved in a battle that no one expected and is of absolutely no consequence. Such a battle occurred yesterday during the debate over the PUC Sunset bill. The perpetrator of the event was the redoubtable pot-stirrer, Michael Quinn Sullivan. Writing on his Empower Texans Web site, Sullivan sounded the alarm that the bill allowed the agency to issue cease and desist orders without judicial review. This is very technical stuff, but, as Sullivan saw it, it was a case of “bureaucrats looking for more power under the guise of their unique ability to necessarily protect the people.” Proclaimed Mr. Sullivan: “ This is overreach at its worst.” Yes, it was – and mainly by Mr. Sullivan.
Sullivan’s article threw the Republican caucus into a tizzy. A huge cluster of Republicans formed at the front of the chamber. Democrats looked on in amusement. Freshman Rep. Matt Krause, of Fort Worth, took the bait and offered what Sullivan called “the conservative amendment”:to strip the offending language from the bill. According to Sullivan, “Sixty Republican members voted ‘correctly’ and 33 voted with the Democrats to vest broad new powers with an unelected state agency.”

The main point here should not be lost on readers. Sullivan tried to bully the Republican caucus into accepting his worldview, and he was defeated. Every time that happens, Sullivan’s stock declines. And it is going to keep declining. At some point, the new members are going to figure out that Sullivan’s power is illusory, though many of them didn’t realize it yesterday.