Dems' Mixed Messages
The statement goes on to speculate that the election may mean a weakening of Craddick's power, a restoration of the "bipartisan tradition" of Bob Bullock and Pete Laney, and even the possibility of Craddick losing the speakership. "I have a lot of Republican friends and colleagues in the Texas House," concludes Dunnam, "and I can tell you with 100% certainty that many of them are asking themselves, and asking each other, how much longer can they afford to keep the current speaker of the Texas House."
Apparently, the answer is "a little longer." The next day Craddick released a list of 119 House members pledged to support his re-election, including every Republican as well as 32 Democrats. Some of the latter names were predictable conservative rural Dems, or other Craddick chairs like Vilma Luna, D-Corpus Christi, and Norma Chavez, D-El Paso. But others were not for example, Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, an outspoken leader in the fight against re-redistricting. The Central Texas Dem delegation is represented on the Craddick list by not only Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs (no surprise), but also by Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, often a firebrand in opposition and an unlikely Craddickcrat. Asked about her pledge, Dukes said bluntly, "Let's be realistic. No one else was going to be elected speaker, and this is about doing what's best for your constituency."
Dukes noted that there is a bipartisan House tradition of supporting the presumptive speaker "everyone pledged with Laney every time" and that she told Craddick when he requested her pledge that she would still take the same positions on legislation, and that she was promised nothing in return. "This is about being realistic," she repeated. "Craddick is going to be the speaker for the foreseeable future, and this is about doing what's best for my constituency."