As everyone knows by now, Republicans have lost 12 seats since Craddick became speaker. Eight of these losses occurred in the last two elections. The main reason for these losses was not Craddick; it was George W. Bush. But I do think that a close scrutiny of seats won and lost would allocate little credit to Craddick for the three victories Republicans posted, and a considerable amount of the blame to Craddick for the six defeats suffered. Craddick deserves credit for one of the three seats the R’s picked up. He recruited Todd Hunter to run against Juan Garcia. Hunter ran a lousy campaign, but he was a credible name on the ballot. Once Hunter was in the race, the outcome was foreordained. This was an overwhelmingly Republican district. The same predestination existed in Fort Worth. Democrat Dan Barrett had won a special election against Mark Shelton, but he didn’t have a prayer in a general election. Ditto in the LaGrange-Bastrop district, where Republican Tim Kleinschmidt had been running to succeed Robbie Cook for more than two years. He easily defeated Democrat Donnie Dippel. The Democrats’ unwarranted optimism in these races provided an illusion that they were close. As we saw on election night, they weren’t. What about the six seats in which Republicans lost to Democrats? Here I think Craddick should shoulder some of the blame. His statement that he had nothing to do with the refurbishing of the House lounge was mendacious. Zedler’s opponent made it a campaign issue because Zedler is on House Administration. Goolsby’s opponent likewise turned it into campaign ammo. Craddick should be accountable for these losses. Bryan Daniel’s loss to Diana Maldonado also deserves some scrutiny. I think Craddick backed the wrong guy in the primary. Dee Hobbs had deeper roots in the community than Daniel. He led a four-candidate field in the primary. He had the endorsement of the third-place finisher. Daniel was slicker, but he wasn’t a good fit for the district. Hobbs had the better chance to hold the seat. A similar situation occurred in Dallas County, where Mike Anderson took on incumbent Thomas Latham. Craddick backed Anderson, who had a lot of baggage. I think Latham could have held that seat. Anderson couldn’t do it. Jim Murphy’s loss to Kristi Thibaut in Harris County was mainly due to demographic change. Murphy ran hard, but the numbers were against him, and the D’s had a big early vote. The sixth seat lost by Republicans is 100% due to Craddick. This was the El Paso seat held by Pat Haggerty. As everyone remembers, Craddick recruited Dee Margo to take out Haggerty, a longtime Craddick nemesis, in the Republican primary. But Democrat Joe Moody beat Margo. If Linda Harper-Brown loses her recount when the provisional ballots are counted, Haggerty’s lost seat will be the difference between a 76-74 Republican majority and a 75-75 tie. That bit of revenge Craddick took against Haggerty could turn out to be very costly. Moody defeated Margo, but Haggerty, an 18-year incumbent, would have been favored to hold the seat. I was told that a prominent El Paso leader tried to dissaude Rick Perry and Craddick from going after Haggerty in the primary, but to no avail. This loss was all due to Craddick’s thirst for vengeance. In five of the six seats Republicans lost—all except Murphy’s—Craddick deserves a considerable amount of the blame.
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