I received a call yesterday from a well connected friend who laid out this scenario: The Chisum forces will seek a meeting of the Republican caucus on Wednesday, November 3, the day after the election. The Cabal and their allies will try to whip the members into an anti-Straus frenzy and will call for a vote for the caucus to pick the speaker. (A Republican consultant told me that SREC members starting calling legislators asking them to vote for Chisum soon after the letter went out. This backfired because the members soon got calls from the media asking if they were going to support Chisum over Straus.) The usual suspects of outside groups will be stirring the pot as well. Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute is regarded as one of the leaders of the anti-Straus movement. David Barton of Wallbuilders is also known to be anti-Straus, dating back to the Republican state convention. I don’t think it’s going to work. For one thing, the cabal is really quite small. The core is fewer than ten. My list: Berman Chisum Christian Craddick Flynn Hildebran P. King Morrison In addition to these, I could find five potential sympathizers (pure speculation): Creighton, Hancock, Riddle, Woolley. (Sid Miller’s name was originally on this list. I have since been told that Sid Miller is definitely NOT with the cabal.) Then there are some of the new members — Charles Perry is a candidate, also David Simpson. The critical mass isn’t there. Chisum is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. The best ally he could hope for is ART, the Associated Republicans of Texas. ART could really put the pressure on the Republican members. They are the new TLR, the biggest funders of Republican races. They have the power to twist arms because they control the money. But ART is working WITH Straus. If you really want to know how Straus stands, go to the list of House members on Texas Legislature Online, click on the home pages of Republican members, and check out their committee assignments. You will see that Straus has used the interim to appoint members to select committees he has established. Myra Crownover, for example, who has been a Craddick ally in the past, has a plum position involving stimulus money. The extremists in the Cabal or those regarded as friendly to it got nothing. Note that Tenth-Amendmenter Brandon Creighton has no select committee assignment. Such is the power of the chair. Yes, there is going to be a lot of noise from the Michael Quinn Sullivans types, but even he has muted his criticism of Straus. Unless the governor decides to get into it — and Perry is too shrewd to involve himself in a speaker’s race — Chisum’s trial balloon is going to pop. This may be the last gasp of the West Texans/Craddickites in the House. Redistricting will decimate them. Except for El Paso and Heflin’s and Gallego’s districts, there is nothing west of Highway 281 but GOP seats. Craddick is now doing what he resented so much about Laney: staying too long.
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