The pending departure of the chair of the House Republican caucus removes someone who was well positioned to challenge Straus for speaker. It will also touch off a scramble for a successor. I thought the most likely challengers to Straus would be Taylor and Hancock, but both have their sights set on the Senate now. Who might be interested in the chairmanship? Truitt wanted to run for speaker when Craddick’s bid for a fourth term fell apart. Smithee was also a player in the throes of the Craddick collapse, but he described his role as “trying to land the plane before it crashes.” We might hear from Paxton again, but he didn’t impress anyone in his race for speaker and I don’t think he has enough of a following for caucus chair. Craddick himself might step up if the opportunity presented itself. Surveying the field doesn’t yield a lot of candidates. Bonnen had issues with Straus last session (and vice versa). Keffer has always wanted to be speaker, and he might see the caucus chairmanship as a steppingstone. But I don’t think a cardinal can win. Suggestions, anyone?