Dan Gattis

Gattis out, Ogden in

Nov 30, 2009 By Paul Burka

An amazing development. Gattis has spoken openly of his desire to be president of the United States some day. Now he is out of politics, not even running for reelection to the House. It's a double whammy, a talented member gone and the dreadful Milton Rister as a possible successor. This is more fallout from Hutchison's decision not to resign her Senate seat. It is safe to conclude that Ogden would not run for the Senate again if he were not confident of retaining the chairmanship of Senate Finance. He can have that confidence only he knows that Dewhurst will remain as lite gov and not run for Hutchison's seat if and when she were to resign. Indeed, the purveyors of the conventional wisdom around the Capitol believe that she will serve out her term to the bitter end, December 31, 2012. So why did Gattis decide to drop out? This is one case when the "need to earn a living" and "spend more time with my family" is for real. Gattis was telling colleagues that the campaign had hurt his law practice. The district is huge, going all the way into upper East Texas. Gattis had a very active opponent in Ben Bius, of Walker County (Huntsville). The Bius camp contends that the real reason Gattis dropped out was that the race was not going well for him, that they had knocked on 15,000 doors in Williamson County, that they had been running radio spots for several weeks, that Gattis was having trouble raising money from business interests that didn't like his support for legislation backed by trial lawyers. They were getting ready to send out a mailer slamming Gattis for offering what they claim is a state "public option" for health insurance, HB 2470, which established the Texas Mutual Health Benefit Plan Company. The company's board of directors would be comprised of the Executive Director of the Employees Retirement System (ERS), the Executive Director of the Teacher Retirement System (TRS), and seven members appointed by the Governor. The Executive Directors of ERS and TRS would be co-presiding officers of the board.

The Gattis-Bius race and TLR

Oct 23, 2009 By Paul Burka

The conventional wisdom is that Gattis is a heavy favorite in this Senate race, and I have to agree. He comes from the biggest county in the district, and he has been running hard for some time, especially in Brazos County, the second largest county. Still, I have heard an…

Does Dewhurst have a future as lieutenant governor?

Aug 17, 2009 By Paul Burka

Senate Republicans continue to have conversations about what to do in the event that (a) Dewhurst resigns his office to run for the Senate, or (b) opts to run for lieutenant governor again. The GOP caucus has three factions. The lines are not set in stone, and, depending on the situation, members can move from one faction to the other and back again. First you have the radical right: Williams, Fraser, Patrick, Estes. This is the group that is most outspoken on the subject of having the caucus choose one candidate to succeed Dewhurst and voting as a unit to impose that candidate on the Democrats. Others who are ideologically compatible with this group--Nelson and Ogden, to name two--have their own ambitions and are not necessarily aligned with their ideological allies. The second identifiable group is the moderates: Averitt, Carona, Duncan, Eltife, Jackson, Seliger, Wentworth. Carona has been out front for this bunch, arguing that Republicans should keep their powder dry and not commit to anyone at this early stage of the game. He makes no secret that he would like to serve as interim lieutenant governor. The third group can best be described as the undecideds. They don't want to see a repeat of what happened in 2000 after then-lite gov Perry succeeded Bush as governor: a moderate R, Bill Ratliff, garnered enough Democratic support to get elected. Neither are they comfortable with the radicals who propose to run the Senate out of the Republican caucus, transforming the Senate into a body that operates along partisan lines. This group includes Deuell, Hegar, Huffmann, Harris, Nelson, Nichols, and Ogden. Nelson could emerge from this group as a contender for light gov. Ogden's future is uncertain. He has previously said that he would make an announcement this summer about whether he will seek another term; for the moment, Dan Gattis is campaigning vigorously in Brazos County to succeed him. If Dewhurst resigns, or does not file for reelection, Ogden would surely leave, as he could not count on being chairman of Finance under a different lite gov.

Hog Heaven

May 14, 2009 By Paul Burka

Yes, the feral hogs debate was the House at its finest. No other parliamentary body in America could have produced that debate. Where else could you hear a hog hunt described as economic development? This turned out to be another urban-rural fight, with Sid Miller and Gattis warning of the…

The TPPF unemployment insurance debate

Mar 31, 2009 By Paul Burka

The Texas Public Policy Foundation hosted a debate last week on the subject of whether Texas should accept the stimulus funds for unemployment insurance. The audio is available on the TPPF web site here. The participants were Republicans Kelly Hancock and Dan Gattis and Democrat Mark Strama. Craig Eiland, who was originally scheduled to participate, had a conflict. I am going to summarize the arguments below: Hancock I heard people saying that the way to fix this is to add more people to our system, because we're paying out faster than we're bringing in [money]. This didn't sound right, that we need to add people to our rolls while we're paying out money in a fund that is not keeping up with the payments that we're paying out today, because we'll get a lump sum of money up front. I look at this as what's best for Texas long-term instead of a short-term kind of mentality. If you look in a very short-term perspective, these funds are extremely beneficial to us. My wife and I started a new business, a farm and ranch store, it's been successful. Our business is up significantly. With our business, I had to borrow money up front so I could make more money in the end. The unemployment insurance money actually does the opposite. Rather than increase the revenue side long-term, it increases the expense side long-term. It does increase the revenue side short-term. The impact of business is insignificant except when you draw the lines [Hancock and Strama both used slides that were provided by the Workforce Commission, although they did not have the same data] out to infinity and beyond.

PROPOSED NEW HOUSE RULES

Jan 23, 2009 By Paul Burka

The highlights: 1. A process is established for removal of the speaker following the refusal to recognize a member for a question of privilege. (The Tom Craddick Rule) This had to be done. The Craddick/Keel/Wilson ruling that the speaker was an officer of the state and could not be removed…

Let the speculation begin

Jan 19, 2009 By Paul Burka

Committee appointments will be the first real test of the Straus speakership. How many of the 149 members can he satisfy? Here are some of the problems he will face: —Straus has said that there will be no retaliation against Craddick loyalists. Good luck in keeping that promise. The ABCs…

Ich bin ein Speaker!

Jan 5, 2009 By Eileen Smith

Burka and Eileen discuss probable Speaker Joe Straus, Craddick’s exit, horse racing, and whether bridge qualifies as gambling. Honorably mentioned: John Smithee, Burt Solomons, Dan Gattis, Jim Keffer, and playing the ponies. (And yes, I am wearing a scarf over my turtleneck. My space heater gave out, and I can’t…

Straus in the wind: claims 76 votes

Jan 3, 2009 By Paul Burka

Gary Scharrer has posted a story in the San Antonio Express-News quoting Joe Straus as saying that he has the votes to be speaker. Here are the first three paragraphs: Republican lawmaker Joe Straus said he has collected enough pledges from House colleagues Saturday to oust incumbent House…

For Auld Lang Speaker

Dec 31, 2008 By Eileen Smith

The final video of 2008. (You can thank me later.) Stick a fork in Craddick? Is he really done? Really? Honorably Mentioned: Gattis, Smithee, Solomons, Kolkhorst, Chisum, Straus, Hamilton, McCall, Dunnam, and just about every other House Member you can think of And who was that anonymous Republican source?…

79 and counting…make that 80

Dec 30, 2008 By Paul Burka

That is how many members appear to be committed to a course to elect a new speaker. It’s the 64 Democrats plus the 11 members of the ABC coalition (some of whom are not hardcore ABCs) plus the Gattis 4. It’s time to count Smithee in this camp, judging from…

Conversations with Craddick

Dec 30, 2008 By Paul Burka

A noncombatant Republican, not a member, sent me this e-mail about several conversations Craddick had over the weekend with supporters, which were duly reported to my source: Over the weekend, there were some telephone calls made by Tom Craddick in which (according to the report from one of the people…

The Next Speaker

Dec 30, 2008 By Paul Burka

It will be Dan Gattis, John Smithee, or Burt Solomons. Gattis has to build some momentum. The test, in a speaker’s race, is not whether a candidate can reach out to other members. It’s whether other members, believing that a candidate is for real, reach out to him. These next…

No Time for Tom

Dec 29, 2008 By Paul Burka

Everyone wants to attend Craddick’s funeral, but the corpse is still breathing—barely. One more nail in the awaiting coffin: The Democrats  published their names. It’s vital, as January 13 approaches, that the insurgents do everything possible to bolster their credibility, and the best way to do that was lay out…

The speaker’s race: Update

Dec 28, 2008 By Paul Burka

The long Christmas weekend is about over. Keep an eye on the Ethics Commission tomorrow (Monday) for new filings for speaker. Gattis is a possibility. McCall is a possibility. It was this time last year that he filed. I talked to one of the ABC’s on Saturday. He said that…

The proposed House reforms: Good ideas or not?

Dec 13, 2008 By Paul Burka

As most readers know, Jim Keffer has proposed several reforms for the House of Representatives, and Dan Gattis has proposed a constitutional amendment to provide a means of removing the speaker. Let’s see whether they have merit. First, the constitutional amendment: Gattis would add this language to the boilerplate about…

Bringing Down the House

Nov 7, 2008 By Eileen Smith

Eileen talks with Burka about the cantankerous Speaker’s race, a House divided, Craddick D’s, ABC’s, and 2010 with KBH. Honorable video mentions include: Reps. Tommy Merritt; Jim Keffer; Pete Gallego; Craig Eiland; Dan Gattis; Alan Ritter; and Sylvester Turner.

New speaker candidate(s)?

Nov 5, 2008 By Paul Burka

I know I really shouldn’t pass along gossip, really I shouldn’t, and I wouldn’t do it if I were still a serious journalist instead of just a blogger, really I wouldn’t do it, honest, but a lobbyist just called to say that at a hearing Duncan is having at the…