Craddick and the Never-Ending 80th Session

House Republicans are seeking legal advice on whether Tom Craddick broke the rules.

The battle over House Speaker Tom Craddick's future has rumbled on well after the end of the 80th session: Now two senior House Republicans are dragging Attorney General Greg Abbott into the fight.

On Monday Reps. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, and Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, asked Abbott's office to make a formal advisory on whether Craddick overstepped his powers by refusing to hear motions to vacate the chair – House-speak for a vote of no-confidence.

The last days of the session descended into bitter conflict after members of both parties tried to remove Craddick. Many called his method of management dictatorial and unresponsive: Craddick shut down the rebellion, saying he interpreted the rules as barring a speaker race midsession and that he didn't have to hear any motion that he didn't want to recognize.

In his letter to Abbott, Keffer challenged Craddick's presumption of "absolute authority," questioning whether Craddick violated the Texas Constitution. In four very technical questions, they ask Abbott to rule whether the House has any way to get rid of a speaker, short of impeachment or waiting for the next session. One of seven representatives to file paperwork with the Texas Ethics Commission challenging Craddick in the next speaker race, Keffer could be setting a new political precedent by reducing the powers of an office that he's seeking.

Cook was unavailable for comment, but Craddick's office issued a statement that he welcomed Abbott's opinion, as he was sure it would back his interpretation.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Legislature, Attorney General, State Government, Greg Abbott, Tom Craddick, Jim Keffer, Byron Cook

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