Insiders on the Speaker Race and the 2/3rds Rule

Most of our insiders — 92.6 percent — think Joe Straus will still be the speaker after January 11, but they don't sound confident that a Republican supermajority will bring peace and harmony to the Pink Building.

Only a dozen of this week's 163 respondents think there will be a new speaker, and their choices varied between Warren Chisum, who's declared, Larry Taylor, who hasn't, and "someone else." Tom Craddick got a vote, and so did Dan Branch, a Straus supporter. Neither has indicated any interest in being speaker in 2011.

Almost as big a majority — 87.1 percent — think the Senate should keep requiring a two-thirds majority to bring up legislation for consideration.

Inside Intelligence is a new weekly feature we're doing with our sister publication Texas Weekly: A survey of insiders on questions of the moment. We sent questions to more than 450 lobbyists, consultants, former officeholders and others to check the collective pulse of the people closest to the action. We didn't ask current officeholders or their staffs, and we used an Internet service that prevents non-invitees from voting and prevents invitees from voting more than once. We'll do a new one every week (though we skipped last week on the theory that voters had enough survey results to look at in election week). This time, we got 163 respondents who identify themselves as Independent (27.6 percent), Republican (40.5 percent) and Democrat (31.3 percent).

This week's open-ended question was, "How do you think the election outcomes will affect the legislative session ahead?" A few of the answers (the full set is attached):

• "I think some of the more polarizing issues will get further than they have in the past but not necessarily pass. There will be a huge amount of infighting among Republicans, which we are already seeing in the speaker's race."

• "Redistricting will suck. Dramatically."

• "Texans clearly want a much more conservative set of policy outcomes. The voters clearly shut off debate on new revenue sources in favor of strict fiscal accountability and responsibility."

• "Some sort of voter ID bill and immigration reform bill will pass. And any chance for increasing the gambling footprint went away on election night."

• "With almost all of the winners pledging no new taxes, it would appear major cuts to state spending in health care, education and infrastructure development are in the offing. And the Republicans will be able to make the DeLay plan look modest as they claim 75% of the Congressional seats in the delegation."

• "Conservatives will get everything they want and more: huge budget cuts for social services, illegal immigration legislation, voter identification legislation, more tort reform legislation, and redistricting that cements Republican control of the state for the next decade. Thank you Texas Democratic Party!"

• "It will obviously embolden conservative Republicans, so expect a stream of early votes on social issues before reality sinks in and the sober business of budget cutting takes all the fun out of the session."

• "The elections made redistricting even harder. More Rs now will have to be paired. Passing a budget became easier, however. The Rs simply will cut and cut and cut."

• "Train wreck. R's want no tax hike. D's don't have the votes or a plan. Let the Special Sessions begin."

• "Move to the right please! The huge Republican numbers will dictate a number of conservative issues will likely be passed (Voter ID, Immigration, additional tort reforms, etc). Shake-up of key committee leadership will also occur due to the large Republican majority. Finally, cuts in state services will be deep and very little can be done by slim Democrat numbers."

• "More partisan bickering. Greater likelihood of more special sessions."

• "If Republicans are unified (big if), budget and redistricting get done in the regular session. Looks like legislators will have the summer off."

• "Duh."

This week's participants: Sylvia Acevedo, Cathie Adams, Brandon Aghamalian, James Aldrete, Clyde Alexander, George Allen, Matt Angle, Christian Archer, Doc Arnold, Jay Arnold, Jim Arnold, Louis Bacarisse, Charles Bailey, Tom Banning, Reggie Bashur, Eric Bearse, Leland Beatty, Dave Beckwith, Tom Blanton, Richard Bluntzer, Hugh Brady, Jay Brown, Blaine Bull, Terri Burke, Jose Camacho, Marc Campos, Snapper Carr, Janis Carter, Corbin Casteel, Jim Chapman, William Chapman, George Cofer, Lawrence Collins, John Colyandro, Kevin Cooper, Hector Deleon, Dianne Delisi, Kate Doner, Scott Dunaway, David Dunn, Jeff Eller, Craig Enoch, Jack Erskine, Alan Erwin, Ryan Erwin, John Esparza, John Fainter, Jon Fisher, Tom Forbes, Kyle Frazier, Wil Galloway, Neftali Garcia, Bruce Gibson, Scott Gilmore, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, Jim Grace, Thomas Graham, Marta Greytok, Carl Griffith, Michael Grimes, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Albert Hawkins, Adam Haynes, Talmadge Heflin, Jim Henson, Steve Holzheauser, Michael Hull, Kathy Hutto, Shanna Igo, Deborah Ingersoll, Cal Jillson, Cliff Johnson, Karen Johnson, Robert Kamm, Robert Kepple, Heidi Kirkpatrick, Thomas Kleinworth, Richard Kouri, Kenneth Kramer, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, James LeBas, Donald Lee, Luke Legate, Richard Levy, Ruben Longoria, Vilma Luna, EvaDe Luna-Castro, Matt Mackowiak, Phillip Martin, Bryan Mayes, Patricia McCandless, Dan McClung, Scott McCown, Carol McDonald, Mignon McGarry, Mike McKinney, Michael McKinney, Kurt Meacham, Debra Medina, Robert Miller, Michael Moore, Steve Murdock, Craig Murphy, Keir Murray, Richard Murray, Mark Nathan, Chris Newton, Sylvia Nugent, Todd Olsen, Gardner Pate, Jerry Philips, Tom Phillips, Royce Poinsett, Kraege Polan, Jerry Polinard, Stephen Pringle, Ted Melina Raab, Bill Ratliff, Tim Reeves, Chuck Rice, Jody Richardson, Carl Richie, Jim Rudd, Luis Saenz, Mark Sanders, Jim Sartwelle, Stan Schlueter, Bruce Scott, Stephen Scurlock, Terri Seales, Fred Shannon, Brad Shields, Christopher Shields, Patricia Shipton, Bill Siebert, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Terral Smith, Todd Smith, Larry Soward, Tom Spilman, Robert Stagner, Jason Stanford, Bob Stein, Keith Strama, Robert Strauser, Colin Strother, Leslie Sullivan, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Russ Tidwell, Bruce Todd, Lisa Turner, Victoria Waddy, Jill Warren, John Weaver, Ken Whalen, Darren Whitehurst, Michael Wilt, Eric Wright, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.

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