Notes from Evan Smith
"The events of early January at the Capitol, less dramatic in retrospect than they seemed at the time, left the state’s most powerful man even more so. Is anybody really surprised? Granted, it seemed possible for a while there, when apostate Republicans announced their desire to topple their two-term leader, that we might have a real fight on our hands. But as often happens midway through an attempted coup, the unrest quells, the dyspeptic and the unloved come to their senses, and order is restored. And so Tom Craddick lives to see another day, and another session: his twentieth.
The 63-year-old Eagle Scout, mud salesman, and onetime doctoral student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock has looked after his hometown of Midland at the Legislature since January of 1969, and though his father once warned him, “Texas is run by Democrats,” he endured decades in the minority party, lying in wait, until his fellow Republicans wrested control of the House for the first time since Reconstruction. That was 2003, just five years ago, though his maiden term in charge was so memorable—which is to say memorably contentious—that it feels like it was ripped from the pages of a history book. Between then and now, he’s survived the redistricting free-for-all, allegations of campaign finance funny business, an amusingly strained relationship with his counterpart in the senate, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and the media’s constant nattering about his iron-fist rule: how he allegedly forces his colleagues to vote against the interests of their districts, how he allegedly finds and funds primary opponents for those who don’t, how he allegedly grinds his boot heel into the neck of any Democrat who dares to challenge him. All of it—all of it—washes off his back like so much dirty water. He could care less what I think, or what you think, or what anybody thinks. He’s Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, and so far, at least, no one can take that away from him.
- Evan Smith, Texas Monthly Talks, Broadcast 3.8.07
Watch the 1.13.05