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Rep. Jim Pitts says he’s running for Speaker of the House

Republican Rep. Jim Pitts, whose district includes Ennis, threw his name into the race to unseat Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick on Thursday, heightening intrigue in the already heated speaker’s race just two weeks before the legislative session convenes.
Pitts is the second Republican to announce his candidacy for speaker of the 150-member chamber. Republican Rep. Brian McCall of Plano and Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston also have announced their candidacies.
Craddick, a Midland Republican, publicly maintained that he has enough support to win his third term as speaker.
Pitts billed himself as the "consensus candidate," where members of both parties often complain that Craddick’s leadership style is too authoritarian.
"I realize that this chamber today is somewhat divided and that we have a very difficult session of us, starting in two weeks," Pitts said. "But at the end of the day, I believe that all of the members are looking for a way to vote their district and to serve together and I want to help them do that."
Every two years, on the first day of the legislative session, the legislators select a speaker to preside over the House. The session convenes Jan. 9.
Craddick spokeswoman Alexis DeLee said Craddick remains confident he still has enough support to win.
"Some have said it could even benefit the speaker because it would divide the support," DeLee said.
It takes at least 76 votes from House members to elect a speaker.
"Over the next few days, I will reach out to every member of the Legislature personally and ask for their support, without any arm twisting or intimidation, because those who know me, know that this is not how I do business," Pitts said.
Earlier in the day, Craddick released an e-mailed list of 84 lawmakers whom he said have pledged their support. Pitts’ name was on that list as were the names of 17 Democrats. Pitts is well-liked by members of both parties.
"I’ve had members call me and tell me that ‘I’ve signed a pledge card for Speaker Craddick …. I’ve signed a pledge card for Brian McCall, I’ve signed a pledge card for Senfronia Thompson, where can I sign a pledge card for somebody I’m going to vote for?’" Pitts said. "That’s not just one member."
Pitts said he had spoken with Craddick by phone "very nearly every day within the last five days." He said he would not say anything negative about Craddick, McCall or Thompson, whom he described as good friends.
He said he was supported by an equal number of Republicans and Democrats
"I am not answering to or beholden to the Democratic Caucus, the Republican Caucus … Tom Craddick," Pitts said. "I’m doing it for the members of the Texas House."
If Craddick wins another term as speaker, it’s almost a certainty that Pitts will lose his powerful position on the House Appropriations Committee.
"I am standing here today, a man that has more guts than he thought he did," Pitts said, sounding nervous, but inciting laughter from a roomful of reporters and onlookers.
Historically, speakers are not forced out unless a new political party wins a majority of seats.

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Posted by on Dec 30 2006. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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