Dewhurst Doesn't Blame the House. No, Really.
Well, okay, maybe he blames them a little bit
By Lee Nichols,
4:12PM, Wed. May 27, 2009
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst wants to make it clear – he’s not criticizing the House leadership’s handling of the voter ID issue. He’s just, um well, what’s the word? “Blaming”? “Pointing the finger”?
If the House had been smart, he told reporters about two hours ago on the Senate floor, they would have descended into bitter acrimony early in the session – like the Senate did – rather than later.
“It’s regrettable,” Dewhurst said. “We knew there would be a difference of opinion, so we took it up early. Obviously, I’m disappointed. I know the Speaker’s working as hard as he can, but we’ve got a lot of really good legislation” – bills that the Senate must try to save today before midnight by amending them onto House bills now in the upper chamber.
“That’s why we took up voter ID early. Regrettably, if the House had taken it up – and I’m not being at all critical, I’m just saying it’s a fact – if the House had taken it up two, three, four weeks ago, a voter ID bill, none of this would have happened.
“Again, I’m not criticizing anyone, but when you wait until the last two weeks out ”
Asked if voter ID – the hotly contested issue that Republicans insist is necessary to stop voter fraud, but opponents counter is just an attempt to suppress Democratic turnout and won’t deter fraud – could be saved this session, Dewhurst said, “I don’t see at the present time a vehicle for voter ID.” (In order for the Senate to amend one of their bills onto a House bill, the bill hitching a ride must be “germane” to the vehicle bill.)
The bills include such crucial legislation as the Texas Windstorm Insurance bill, about which Dewhurst was particularly concerned.
Asked if the Lege would go into special session this summer, Dewhurst replied,"I hope not," and asked if voter ID were important enough to be one of the special session issues, said, "I'm going to leave that decision to the governor. That's on his call."
While Dewhurst tried to sugarcoat his criticisms of Straus and co., he took flat-out cheap shots at Dems: “I can’t tell you how many people have turned to me and said, ‘You know, by how hard Democrats in the House have worked to kill voter ID, there must be a lot more fraud than I ever anticipated.'"
He then went into standard Republican boilerplate mode, citing “example after example” of voter fraud in Texas – but not specifically mentioning the phrase "voter impersonation," the only (and extremely rare) type of fraud that requiring voters to show a photo ID would fix.