Craddick's Grip Goosed
Who'll be the next House speaker?
House Speaker Tom Craddick had a good night on Nov. 4, seeing off Democratic challenger Bill Dingus in his Midland House District 82 seat 62%-35%. But keeping his seat and keeping his speaker's gavel are different issues. His grip on power may have loosened with the departure of several loyalists and the defeat of chosen candidates such as Round Rock's Bryan Daniel and El Paso's Dee Margo. Moderate Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, who has already claimed he has the votes to replace Craddick as speaker next session, released a statement Tuesday night stating, "Bipartisanship has won a clear victory tonight in the Texas House of Representatives." Claiming he had a "consensus group of Republicans behind my candidacy," he asked the House Democratic caucus to back his quest for the gavel. In his own statement, Democratic caucus Chair Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, echoed the bipartisan sentiment and said: "Tom Craddick lost a vote of confidence. Change is coming." But whether that change is Keffer or not remains to be seen. Seven Democrats and an unknown number of Republicans have been making their own phone calls, trying to rustle up support for their own speakership candidacy among members of both parties. Meanwhile, Dunnam, appearing at a Democratic press conference Wednesday, quipped, "I've got a real problem today – I just can't stop smiling."
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