Overplaying your hand
I said a few days ago that Craddick appeared to have gained an edge in the race to be Speaker, unless he overplayed his hand.
Craddick unveiled a new pledge card that also asked for a public vote. Rep. Pitts and Burka both seem to think that Craddick is overplaying his hand. And indeed, I must agree. Why publically signal weakness by unveiling a new pledge card? Why publically commit to a public vote?
The question is whether he has overplayed his hand enough. I doubt that this alone is enough.
On the other hand, Clay Robison reports that someone was standing outside the Austin Club, videotaping to see who went into a meeting of Craddick's supporters. Pitts denies it was anyone related to him, and that seems plausible enough. But the fact that there is someone out there (the new anti-Craddick Dem PAC?) playing hardball makes Pitts look less pure, whether he was behind it or not.
[By the way, it's worth pointing out, as Harvey Kronberg did today, that the newspapers were very exercised about the importance of a public vote in 2002, when it would mean a less conservative speaker. In 2007, these same newspaper editorial boards seem entirely uninterested in the supposed necessary governmental transparency of a public votes, when a public vote appears to mean a more conservative speaker. But they didn't want a public vote in 1991, when conservative Dem Gib Lewis was up for Speaker re-elecition. Notice a pattern here? The editorial boards seem to be willing to flip-flop editorial positions whenever it befits a more liberal candidate. Hmm. Perhaps newspaper editorial boards are really no more principled about process than politicians? Youdon'tdaresay!]
I have to open with the disclaimer that I didn't read the QR article (I'm just a poor state worker, and don't want to pay $225 or however much it is now). Because of that, I may be missing an important point that ties some of this together.
It seems to me that the Speaker's race has almost nothing to do with the degree of conservatism of the candidates and almost everything to do with the way Tom Craddick has run the House over the last two sessions. If you set up a conservative continuum with Senfronia Thompson as a 1 and Tom Craddick as a 10, Jim Pitts is going to be at least an 8.5.
The editorials I've read have all cited Craddick's autocratic style and have all pointed out that dissenters face very real threats of retribution.
I certainly can't disagree about the editorial board-politician equivalence, though.
I agree -- most internal leadership races are mostly about effectiveness and managerial style, not ideology.
Does retribution happen? Of course. I don't really think it's ever not happened, unless the winner is so powerful that s/he can afford not to.
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