Did you see this, House speaker endorses Geren
? That seemed a little odd to me. Why has Speaker Craddick come out in favor of one of his benefactor's enemies? Especially after Rep. Geren was instrumental in derailing the his ideological twin's pet project last session
"Carter teed it up so good all I needed to do was swing," said Geren.
The first Geren amendment simply gave the Republican leadership some of its own medicine. If a voucher pilot program was so good for public schools in minority districts then it should also be acceptable to Republican suburban districts, such as the bill's sponsor Kent Grusendorf's Arlington district.
Geren's second amendment went right for the throat of the bill's voucher provision. The amendment shifted "school choice" funding from private schools to public schools, which isn't exactly what voucher proponents had in mind. Grusendorf's motion to table failed, and Geren's public school choice amendment was adopted by a vote of 74-70. That gutted the bill's private school voucher proposal.
If you'll remember Leininger had a pretty good vantage point to lobby legislators
on this issue:
The doctor has spent some of the previous week and much of this Monday meeting with wavering Republicans in the suite of offices kept by the speaker behind the House chamber. Gov. Rick Perry and Craddick also met with members. Leininger gave Texans for Rick Perry $62,968 in 2004. The governor is going to need a lot more of that money if U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison challenges him.
The first paragraph in that Observer story reminds us of the risk legislators like Rep. Geren and, Texan Of The Year
, Rep. Casteel were taking:
Rep. Carter Casteel (R-New Braunfels) stands before her colleagues to offer an amendment that could endanger her political career. "So, I'’ve made a decision," she tells them. "It may send me home"
The Texas Legislature is usually not a place for acts of political bravery, especially of late. Three years ago, a corporate-backed GOP campaign stacked the House with legislators selected, whenever possible, to be radical ideologues pliant to special interests. Republican representatives were defined by their fear of crossing a vengeful leadership ready to marshal lobby money against them if they didn'’t cooperate.
Oh how prophetic that was
One thing you can say about conservative San Antonio businessman James Leininger: He's as rough on Republicans who disagree with him as with traditional Democratic foes.
Maybe even rougher. He has made almost $1 million in contributions to political action committees to fuel primary challenges to five Republican lawmakers who failed to back Leininger's pet proposal to issue state-funded private school vouchers to parents seeking an alternative to public education for their kids.
That's why I question the recent actions of the Speaker. I think he's just hedging his bets. This way no matter what happens in the primary he's doesn't lose control over the House, theoretically, no literally. Think about it if all of Leininger's five lose, he the has to try and get them to cooperate in the upcoming special session. And if you lead the charge to oust them, that's five lame duck Republican legislators that have nothing to lose. If they all win he still has to work with them for 2-plus years, at least.