As soon as the announcement was made that Ken Paxton sought to address the House on a matter of personal privilege, the air went out of the chamber. There could be only one reason for Paxton’s announcement: He was withdrawing his name for consideration for speaker. That is what happened. He made some brief remarks and his campaign for speaker breathed its last. Eissler put Straus’s name in nomination. Thompson, Darby, Gallego, Woolley, and Cook followed with seconding speeches. Someone–I could not tell who–moved to elect Straus by acclamation, as had happened last session. Berman leaped from his chair and raised an objection. This meant that there would be a record vote after all. Fifteen members voted nay: Berman Burkett Cain Christian Flynn P. King Landtroop Laubenberg Parker Paxton Perry Simpson V. Taylor White Zedler Hughes and Isaac voted “present,” and Yvonne Davis was recorded as absent. Among the Republicans who ended up voting for Straus were Chisum and Craddick, as well as several members who had de-pledged Straus: Gonzalez, Weber, Workman. Their defections came at the height of the organized attack by outside groups and infused the Paxton campaign with a brief appearance of momentum. They probably did more harm to Straus than any other members, other than Paxton and Chisum. Riddle, who always manages to live up to her name, also de-pledged Straus, on the very day (November 3) that Straus laid out his pledge list. The one victory that the Paxton forces achieved was that they denied Straus from reaching 76 Republican pledges, which means that his enemies will be able to say that he was “elected by Democrats.” For the time being, at least, that is not a big deal. As I have pointed out before, Craddick could not have been elected in 2007 without the Craddick D’s. Craddick’s vote for Straus was significant. I think it was Tom’s way of saying that it was time to move on. I hope that Chisum, King, Christian, et al got the message, but I’m not sanguine. A lot of commenters speculated that Craddick was behind the Paxton candidacy, and the campaign against Straus, but I never found a scintilla of evidence, and I do not believe it was so. I don’t think we know yet whether the animosity between the Straus supporters and the die-hard conservatives will continue throughout the session. It is one thing for the minority party to wage parliamentary warfare on the floor every day, as the Democrats did during the Craddick speakership, but it is quite another thing for a dissident faction of the majority party to do so. Berman gave a pretty clear signal that he intends to be adversarial. I doubt that Chisum has buried the hatchet either. It will be interesting to see if the anti-Straus group comes up with an amendment to the rules on Wednesday that could lead to a floor fight. The fight over the speaker’s race was a bitter one, with colleagues bent on destroying colleagues,and I don’t think it will soon be forgotten by either side.
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