This afternoon's fast-moving speaker's race back-and-forth hasn't let up yet. House Speaker Joe Straus has sent a letter to challenger state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, directly taking on Chisum's earlier call for Straus to release House members from their pledges to support him.
We've uploaded the letter for you, but here's a quick excerpt:
Have you no shame? At a time when we should be celebrating the historic Republican gains of the recent election, and focusing on the business of the state, you have instead engaged in a campaign of distortions and attacks that have subjected the membership to a constant strain of negativity solely to return power to a small faction that lost it in January, 2009.
I stand by our efforts to elect good conservatives, and I stand by the integrity of our members that you have impugned with false allegations.
What I won’t condone is what your allies have requested: a quid pro quo in order to maintain the speakership. What they have requested is not just offensive, but illegal. Under no uncertain terms should a speaker, or a candidate for speaker, reveal committee assignments two months prior to the start of session in exchange for support from a certain political faction.
If you truly believe that the Texas House of Representatives should be protected from the kind of scorched earth campaign unleashed by your allies, then I call on you to put a stop to it for the sake of the membership. Stop the threatening letters, mean-spirited emails, and angry phone calls. Let each member of the House, elected to represent the views of their constituents, decide this election free of such divisive hostility.
Speaker's races are always fascinating for us to watch, since only the 150 members of the House get a vote on who becomes their leader, but outside interests can win or lose influence depending on who wins the dais. It appears the run-up to the next speaker's election (on the first day of the legislative session) won't disappoint.