Very good work here [“Speaker’s race: Not Craddick — 74, Craddick Ceiling — 63”], a member-by-member analysis of where the House stands on the speaker’s race. The methodology is to look at members’ public statements and votes. They did a great job. But they’re wrong. The problem with analyzing where members stand as of today is that we are still two months away from the vote for speaker. A lot of things can happen in those two months. Here are several factors that could change the situation: (1) Money. The court decision that allows outside expenditures in a speaker’s race opens the door to mischief — for example, a retainer to a legislator who is an attorney. Or a consulting contract. It is impossible to know whether the money was paid to secure a vote. (2) Ambition. A number of Republican legislators want to seek higher office. As much as they may want Craddick out of the chair, they have to worry that they will be accused of deserting their party to make a deal with the 64 Democrats who oppose Craddick. Republican primary voters will not care that Craddick is a bad leader for the House. They aren’t going to support a candidate who cuts a deal with D’s. (3) A leadership vaccuum. A venerable rule in politics is, “You can’t beat somebody with nobody.” If the Legislature were the British Parliament, Craddick would be gone. He could not win a vote of confidence in the House. But this is not Parliament. To defeat Craddick, someone will have to get more votes than Craddick does. This is the big fallacy of the BOR analysis: It is based upon anti-Craddick votes. But the only way to beat Craddick is for somebody else to get more votes. Sooner or later, the insurgency must settle on a candidate to oppose Craddick. Who is that person going to be? This question has hung in the air, unanswered, for two years. Until it is answered, there is no speaker’s race. And the moment it is answered, the moment the insurgency does settle on a champion, then everything changes. One hundred and forty-eight members will have to assess their relationships with the Chosen One. Do I like him? Has he screwed me? Can I trust him? Is he strong enough to lead a divided House? Can I get reelected if I support him? Will he let me stay on Appropriations? What have I done or said to him that I might regret? Can he raise money from the lobby for my next campaign? There are a thousand such questions. All of the insecurities, all of the petty jealousies, all of the opportunism and fear that make politicians politicians, will come into play. And, human nature being what it is, the survival instinct will take over, and members will decide, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know, and Craddick will be reelected speaker. Burnt Orange says, “Tom Craddick is John McCain at this point. Barring a miracle, the math is absolutely there for change. Right now, we’re just waiting to see who will bring change.” That’s the problem.
Politics & Policy