Wednesday, December 27, 2006

AND THE RACE IS .. (still) OFF

(editor's note: This is precisely the kind of public adoration I sought when I launched this site last Wednesday. Thank you, little people.)
Everyone from my college roommate to the publisher of Texas Monthly to the the former First Lady of Texas has remarked (and not in a good way) on my post last week about the (non-existent) Speaker's Race.

Perhaps my English is rusty. Let me be clear and type ... really ... slowly.

First, Billy Clyde is a fan of Brian McCall's. The guy is smart as a whip and has a great dry sense of humor. You don't find funny policy wonks just lying around in the gutter. He's a real state treasure, if you ask me.

Nevertheless, not a single human person has shown me one pledge of support Brian has from another human person who also serves as a member of the Texas House of Representatives. Even Tommy Merritt won't commit publicly, and what the hell has he got to lose!

Billy Clyde's mind drifts back to the fall of 1992, when he was tasked with the duty of providing copious amounts of sandwiches to Pete Laney's key lieutenants, who were busy making calls and seeking faxed pledges from House members and House members-to-be across our fine state. To the untrained eye, it looked like the filming of a sequel to "Mama's House." In reality, it was a well-oiled political machine cobbled together with spare parts and bailing wire.

Laney and then-Representative Jim Rudd were in a neck-and-neck battle, proving once again that the "experts" who predicted the end of the Rural Speaker know as much about a Speaker's Race as a hog knows about Sunday. Laney was from Hale Center, located in the center of Hale County. Rudd hailed from Brownfield (not the big city of Brownwood) located in Terry County. To drive from Laney's front door to Rudd's front door took 38 minutes. But that's a little misleading. In that part of the South Plains, you are allowed to drive 107 miles per hour without drawing the ire of traffic enforcement officials.

For some reason, my mind replays the scene of Dr. Bob Hunter attempting to persuade incoming freshman House Member-to-be Kip Averitt to pledge Laney. Everyone hearts Dr. Bob, but the man has the closing skills of a Remax reject. It was painful yet funny. And sad.

Another fond memory is of former Representative David Counts' attempt to contact former Representative Charles "Goose" Finnell. Counts was in an automobile. The Goose was in an airplane. Counts drove all over the Big Country chasing The Goose's airplane. He never quite caught it, but it gave Representative Counts something to do besides bothering the fine folks at Laney Central.

Anyway, my stubborn ass remains in the "highly skeptical" camp in regards to whether there is or will be a Speaker's Race. McCall has exposed his fanny. But so far, none of his "supporters" have. If Billy Clyde saw Patrick Haggerty, Edmund Kuempel, Craig Eiland and Ken Paxton being quoted by name saying Brian is their man, my mind would change faster than Smarty Jones sprinting down the homestretch.
But so far, even Jimmy Dunnam and Garnet Coleman are hiding behind the I'm-pledged-to-Ms.-Thompson line of horse manure.
On the other hand, members like future Governor Patrick Rose, boxing referee Robert Puente (Bobby Bridge for my Spanish-speaking friends) and future Governor's BFF Phil King can't talk enough publicly about the greatness of Speaker Tom Craddick.
Bill Clyde is a betting man. He would have to do some serious head-scratching to bet against folks like Rose and Puente and King. And he has never bet against Tom Craddick. Ever.
UPDATE: A loyal reader noted (in the comments section of this informative blog) that Patrick Haggerty, while not declaring, gave a fairly blunt assessment of this mess to his hometown newspaper ( I thought about calling Haggerty today, but I'm scared enough already just mentioning this subject. It's a member-to-member deal, and outsiders and NOT welcome.
I would like to opine about Haggerty's quotes in the articles regarding vouchers. Billy Clyde doesn't care about the issue, except that he acknowledges that it stirs passion seemingly way out of proportion to the real debate. Must be symbolic or something.
Anyway, Haggerty's take on the thing has always been that if the state gets involved in any way, shape or form, it will fuck up private schools. Camel's nose under the tent stuff. That, to me, is the most pursuasive argument against vouchers. Pat is a proud product of those nun ladies who run Catholic schools. My little hometown didn't have any private schools. My little hometown also didn't have any Catholics. So my life experience in this field ain't squat.


Anonymous said...

Aw, BC, I was just funnin' ya'.

What you need to do is whip yourself up a bunch of that Koolaid/151 rum/Everclear punch we used to serve.

You'll be all better -- and less skeptical.


Billy Clyde said...

I guess you haven't heard my smash hit single "I Left My Liver At Longview."

Barbara Jane sends her best.


Anonymous said...

Good on ya'. And tell BJ she's still not a Her.


Anonymous said...

Speaker Keffer. Mark my words.

Anonymous said...

Y'all get a room...

Anonymous said...

Hey Smarty Jones, start sprinting. From the EP Times:

Haggerty said both candidates have contacted him, seeking his support. While he would not say for whom he plans to vote, Haggerty indicated displeasure with current leadership.

He said the House under Craddick has been run like an oligarchy, with a powerful few making decisions. The speaker, Haggerty said, is supposed to protect members from taking risky votes on bills, and that has not happened.

One such controversial bill legislators were forced to vote on would have created a pilot program for state-funded vouchers. James Leininger, a voucher proponent and major donor to Craddick and other conservatives, favored the bill.

It failed, but six of the moderate Republicans who voted against the legislation found themselves with Leininger-funded opponents during this election cycle.

Haggerty was one of four incumbent legislators who successfully beat back the Leininger opponent.

"What is going to factor into my vote is which one of these two intends to run the system the way it's supposed to be," he said.

Anonymous said...

you are SO going to feel stupid when this turns out to be a horserace buddy.

Anonymous said...

Where's the dam breaker? In 2002, it was Laney Chairmen Swinford & Smithee that said "IF there is a Republican majority, we're going to vote for a Republican for Speaker, and that person is Tom Craddick."

Without a dam breaker, I don't see McCall getting a leg up.

Steely Dan

Anonymous said...

STILL off?

(from QR:)

First Republican chairman to go public with pledge

Robert Talton (R-Houston) announced his support of challenger Brian McCall (R-Plano) in Texas' closely watched speaker race.

Talton chairs the Urban Affairs Committee and is the first GOP chair to publicly break with incumbent Tom Craddick.

While Talton speaks only for himself, observers believe that his pledge could have impact on a number of other members.