The retirement of Jim Pitts from the House of Representatives is a sad day. Pitts, who was named a Best this past session, was one of the original eleven Republicans who met to choose a new speaker in 2009 to succeed Tom Craddick. That speaker, of course, turned out to be Joe Straus.

Earlier, Pitts and Brian McCall had joined forces to challenge Craddick. Pitts is best known as the chair of Appropriations, including during the dreadful 82nd Legislature, when Pitts and Rick Perry had a major confrontation over using the Rainy Day Fund. He also challenged Perry over his management of the Texas Enterprise Fund, summoning the governor’s office to appear before the committee. He is one of the truly great lawmakers of his era. He brings to his work a strong moral force, which he has displayed most recently in his battle against UT regent Wallace Hall. He is also one of the nicest members ever to set foot in the Capitol. Everybody likes him. He will most likely be succeeded by John Otto, but he can’t be replaced.

AP Photo | Eric Gay