Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Mike Hailey ( and Harvey Kronberg ( are reporting that Representative Pete Gallego was re-elected chairman of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus. Not that surprising, in and of itself.

Representative Robert Puente waged a last-minute challenge but finished well short. Puente is chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, so no need to shed any of those Argentinian tears for him. Little-known fact: Natural Resources is almost always the most-requested committee assignment.

Bill Clyde considers both good friends. But BC has been worrying about Pete lately. I was telling a mutal friend on Election Day that I was concerned that Gallego had gone off the deep end. His newfound love of extreme partisanship and his open hostility toward Speaker Tom Craddick seemed out of character. Then the next day he jacked with Representative Tracy King at a Caucus meeting and Tracy opened a Number 9 can of whup ass on him. Interestingly enough, Puente is credited with breaking it up before it escalated into a NBA game.

Now maybe Pete figures he's past the point of no return and might as well go whole hog. But how did he find himself in Back-Bencher Land in the first place? He coulda sat in the penalty box for a session or two and found himself back in Chairmanville (he previously headed the House Committee on General Investigating). Instead he decided to become the Democratic equivalent of Representative Gerald Gieswiedt: smart and effective 99 percent of the time, but when he loses it, he does so with zealous gusto.

BC thinks outgoing Representative Terry Keel may be going overboard when he predicts that Gallego will be Governor one day. But the guy is a real talent. He beat an incumbent, then-Agriculture Chairman Dudley Harrison (a true state treasure who succumbed to lung cancer last month) in a sprawling far West Texas district that has been home to giants, including Representative Hilary B. Doran. (Most of you remember HBD as Governor Bill Clements' chief of staff and the first Chairman of the Texas Racing Commission; his real claim to fame may be his fight against Daylight Savings Time, going so far as refusing to change his watch in what counts as a radical protest in Del Rio. I never understood why the sheep and goat raisers hated DST so much. Those critters can't even tell time.)

Anyway, Pete Gallego is smarter than Billy Clyde. So presumably he has a long-range plan and ain't crazy -- just crazy like a fox. I hope so.

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