Every Acronym You Need to Know to Follow the Speaker's Race
"The high-stakes contest is unfolding with characteristic flair and drama: Secret meetings. Public defections. Whispers of more to come." -Jay Root, AP

Oh the DRAMA! The Texas House elects its Speaker on the first day of the next session, January 13th. The Capital City is swirling with conversations and rumors and spin about how the vote will go down.

For those who are just joining in on the action, you don't have to feel like the Speaker-related conversations are in code. Here's a quick cheat sheet for those who are a little less Speaker-savvy:

76: The minimum number of votes needed in to win the House Speakership. Only the 150 member body can vote for speaker, and the winner must win with a majority, not just a plurality.

ABC: Short for "Anybody But Craddick". Considered to be Republican members (many former Craddick lieutenants) who now oppose him.

Craddick D: House Democrats who have supported Speaker Craddick in the past, and have received plum chairmanships and/or committees in return.

The following Democrats have not pledged to vote against Craddick, and they voted for him in previous sessions: Al Edwards, Houston, Aaron Pena, Edinburg, Tracy O. King, Eagle Pass, Helen Giddings, Dallas, Sylvester Turner, Houston, Ruth Jones McClendon, San Antonio, Ryan Guillen, Roma, Harold Dutton, Houston, Dawnna Dukes, Austin, Kino Flores, Palmview.

Gang of 11/Group of 11: Eleven Republican defectors from Speaker Craddick, who include original defectors from 2007, plus newly-minted members who join up to plot strategy. May wind up choosing one "consensus candidate" Friday and join up with the UNC's (see below). Includes defections from previous sessions (Pitts, McCall, Cook, Geren, Jones, Merritt, Kuempel, Keffer) and recent defections (Eissler, Solomons, Straus).

Insurgents: A term more popular during the 2007 session, used to describe the group of Republicans who lost their faith in Craddick and moved to unseat him. Many members of the original "insurgency" are not back because of retirement or failed re-election bids. They included Fred Hill, Mike Krusee, Pat Haggerty.

UNC, or 64: "Under No Circumstances". Democrats who signed a pledge vowing that "under no circumstances" would they support Tom Craddick for Speaker. There were 64 signatures.

RINO: Republican In Name Only. Many of the ABC's are accused of being RINO's for defecting from Craddick, despite the conservative voting records and backgrounds of many of the ABC's.

Secret Ballot v Open Ballot: The House determines its own rules on the first day of the session, which means it can decide whether to vote for Speaker by an open ballot (everyone sees how you voted) or secret ballot (no one does). Speaker Craddick's supporters support an open ballot on the grounds that every other vote they make is a "record" or "public" vote, and the public deserves that kind of transparency.

Opponents of an open ballot say that members should be able to vote for their leader just as American voters do -- in secret. They say allowing the candidates to see whether you voted for them opens members up to the possibility of "fear and retribution" from the winner. The secret v open ballot issue will be decided Jan 13th when the session opens.

Geren Amendment: As it is in all legislatures, how members vote on the actual measure isn't the most telling. You really see where people stand by looking at how they vote on persnickety amendments. Or amendments to amendments. Or motions to table the amendment.

In 2007, the vote that showed Craddick's then-challenger didn't have enough support to win was actually on the Geren Amendment (introduced by its namesake, state Rep Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth). The Geren Amendment (which was Amendment 2 in the journal) called for a secret ballot for speaker, and the votes eventually made public only AFTER committee assignments, so the eventual speaker wouldn't punish those who voted against him.

The Geren Amendment went down in flames (b/c a motion to table the amendment passed by an 80-68 vote)... This paved the way for Craddick to win his third term as Speaker. Geren is an ABC.

Friday Night Massacre: May 25, 2007. The night the wheels came off. On a seemingly newsless Friday evening, a challenge from the back mic turned into near-mutiny. Opponents of the speaker began asking questions from the back mic about ways to "vacate the chair", which is the first step to calling a new election for Speaker.

Craddick and his then-parliamentarian disagreed on answers to questions about a "vacate the chair" motion, and both she (Denise Davis) and her deputy (Chris Griesel) abruptly quit in protest. (The parliamentarian is in charge of interpreting house rules and usually guides the Speaker on what he can or cannot do from the chair.)

Craddick then abruptly adjourned for two hours. The House was in chaos, state Rep Rick Noriega rushed to the dais but got the mic turned off on him, and Craddick then returned with two new parliamentarians, former state Reps Terry Keel and Ron Wilson. They interpreted the rules to say that Craddick had "absolute authority" to recognize members or not. Using this interpretation, Craddick beat back all challenges to remove him from the floor until the session ended three days later.

(The term is a play on the infamous "Saturday Night Massacre" when Nixon fired the special prosecutor investigating Watergate, and resignations of the AG and Deputy AG followed.)

The Walkout: On May 27, 2007, one day before the required end of the session, insurgents who were frustrated with Speaker Craddick's refusal to allow a vote to remove him revolted in a futile walkout.

State Rep Pat Haggerty, R-El Paso, used his personal privilege speech to call a voice vote on support of Speaker Craddick. He'd gotten through a few dozen names before being stopped. Then, in a burst of floor histrionics, he urged those who were fed up to "take your key (which allows members to vote) and leave". Enough members walked out that a quorum of members was no longer present to continue deliberations of bills.

Next time you're at a capitol cocktail party, just sprinkle in a little 76 and 64 into conversation, drop an "ABC" in there, and you'll sound like a speaker politics pro.

Posted by E
| Link to this post | 0 comments |

Email Me
My Profile

Blog Button...

    By the DMAs
    1.New York
    2.Los Angeles (but traveling)
    5.Dallas-Fort Worth
    6.San Francisco
    Lil' Lost Robot
    Sappy Chick
    Political Junkie
    79.Columbia, SC
    Will's Ladies
    137.Columbia-Jefferson City
    141.Beaumont-Port Arthur
    Mark Hancock
    Foreign Bureaus
    Jason (Hong Kong)

    You are visitor #...

    Free Hit Counter
    Free Counter

    Blogroll Me!
    Site Feed
    Add to Google

    Listed on BlogShares

     View My Public Stats on MyBlogLog.com

    Who Links Here