Of the various permutations that could produce a governing coalition in the House, the two most likely are the Craddick loyalists plus the Craddick D’s, and the 64 Democratic loyalists plus the ABCs. The problem for the first group is the perception, right or wrong, that Craddick has stalled, and the problem for the second group is that a handful of Republicans cannot empower the Democrats without risking retaliation from party enforcers in 2010. If the ABCs do cast their lot with the Democrats, Kuempel will rate very high on the list of possible speakers. He is a Gib Lewis type (I never thought I would be holding up the Gibber as a role model) — a nonthreatening good ol’ boy who gets along with everybody and doesn’t really have an agenda. He would probably be a one- or two-term transitional speaker. The Democrats would take him in a heartbeat. Such a coalition — call them the ABCD’s — would face fierce opposition on the floor from the Craddick loyalists, but the Craddick D’s would vote with them on most substantive issues. The ABCD’s would have around 85 votes most of the time. Kuempel has a real shot.
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