It will be Dan Gattis, John Smithee, or Burt Solomons. Gattis has to build some momentum. The test, in a speaker’s race, is not whether a candidate can reach out to other members. It’s whether other members, believing that a candidate is for real, reach out to him. These next few days are crucial to Gattis. He needs more Republicans. Keep your eye on Dan Branch. Do you remember the dog and pony show he and Gattis did during the water bill debate, on that Possum Kingdom lake amendment? I think he may end up with Gattis. Smithee’s advantage is that he has a geographical base. Those West Texans think it’s in the constitution that the speaker has to come from west of Interstate 35. If he gets in the race, he’ll have more initial support than anyone else. Solomons is still very well positioned, assuming that he gets the ABC “nomination.” The Metroplex is a stronger geographical base than West Texas. The Democrats are more comfortable with him than they are with Gattis, for now. Craddick still has the most votes, of course, but as the dominos start falling, he will not be able to keep them. All of the speaker candidates are going to be chasing the same votes, the Republicans who haven’t committed to Craddick. I’m guessing that this is around 25 members. The largest bloc of members on the Republican side is the 30 or so hardcore conservatives. I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone—Warren Chisum, maybe, if he doesn’t become a candidate himself—organize them and take them as a group to one of the contenders, most likely Smithee. Solomons and Gattis cannot afford to let this happen, so they have to be working the hardcores too. There is going to be some fascinating politicking going on in the next two weeks.
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