I just received an e-mail from a credible Capitol source saying that Keffer has 87 votes for speaker. I don’t believe it. I have made phone calls, one to a D, one to an R, both involved in speaker politics. They don’t believe it. They would know.

Here’s my position: I’m not going to believe, or publish, any more rumors that Represenative Wannabe, or Chairman InYourDreams, is running for speaker. Until papers have been filed, until a candidate is willing to step forward, there is no speaker’s race. I said this in December, before McCall went public, and I’ll say it again now. A speaker’s race is about two things: (1) Show me the papers. (2) Show me the names. No papers, no names, no race.

Is Craddick damaged goods? Yes. Is he in worse shape today than he was in January? Yes. Is there grumbling in the Republican ranks? Yes. Is there discontent? Yes. Is there talk about not signing pledge cards? Yes. Is there action? No. Talk is cheap.

I do believe this: Craddick is at his most vulnerable right now. Once he makes it to May 28, everything changes in his favor. He raises the campaign money. He distributes it. He unleashes Leininger against selected targets. He stirs up the party faithful to get members to sign those pledge cards. He woos Rs running for open seats and gets them to sign pledge cards. He always owns the freshmen. That’s the secret of his success.

I believed that Craddick has two more feats that he wants to accomplish before he leaves the speakership: equal or exceed Pete Laney’s tenure, and eviscerate the Democrats in redistricting. The odds that he will achieve them aren’t as good as they used to be, but I still wouldn’t bet against him.