With Election Day quickly approaching, it has become clear to many conservatives that a Democratic takeover of the Texas House of Representatives is a very real possibility. What was once a 26-seat Republican majority in 2003 has dwindled to an eight-seat majority today, and that number will almost certainly shrink again this year. The Republican Party simply cannot afford any more losses in the Legislature, let alone a return to Democratic control. The only way to prevent further erosion of the Republican majority in the Texas House is for Tom Craddick to immediately announce that he will not seek another term as speaker. These are the first two paragraphs of the letter written by Mark McCaig, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee, that appeared in the Statesman on Thursday, the importance of which should not be underestimated. What matters is not that he called for Craddick to give up the gavel. The big deal here is that McCaig challenged the central rationale of the Craddick speakership, which he has sold to leadership of the Republican party: that the maintenance of the Republican majority in the House depends upon his continuing presence as speaker. That issue is now out in the open. If the Republicans do not lose ground on Election Day, Craddick will be reelected as speaker. But if they falter, McCaig’s pronouncement that the emperor has no clothes will stick in the minds of every Republican in the House. He has set the terms of the debate, and the debate has already started. If Craddick is unseated, the Sarajevo of the battle inside the Republican ranks will be the McCaig letter.
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