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Lone Star Project Report

Toxic Tom Craddick - On the ropes as former allies turn away

....here's why

DeLay Redistricting Debacle

After Tom DeLay helped install Craddick as speaker, Craddick's first major act was to serve as Tom DeLay's hatchet man during mid-decade congressional redistricting. Virtually the entire year of 2003 was surrendered to DeLay. (Texas Monthly, August, 2004) What does the State of Texas and Craddick himself have to show for his blind partisanship?

  • Partisanship Reigns: The redistricting battle created a harsh and destructive partisan atmosphere that prevails strongly even now. Craddick allowed Tom DeLay to tie up the Legislature for one regular session and three special sessions, costing Texas taxpayers over $5 million. (Fort Worth Star Telegram, October 13, 2003)
  • Lost Leadership and Seniority in Washington: Texas lost almost 100 years of Democratic seniority as a result of redistricting. With Democrats now in the majority in the U.S. House, Craddick's efforts caused Texas to lose at least three major committee Chairmen (Stenholm on Agriculture and Frost on Rules and Turner on Homeland Security). (The Houston Chronicle, May 21, 2006)
  • DeLay Self-Destructed: Craddick placed his bets on Tom DeLay and lost. Ultimately DeLay's own corruption and scandals led to his humiliating resignation from Congress leaving Craddick with nothing to show for his loyalty to the DeLay machine.

Reports that a coalition of Democratic and Republican State House members have been working behind the scenes to remove current Republican Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick (Quorum Report, December 23, 2006) are not surprising. Upon his elevation to Speaker following the 2002 elections, Tom Craddick immediately charted a course characterized by brutal partisanship and mean spirited exchanges. Now, four years later, key members of both parties in the Texas State House are looking for a replacement.

Craddick: Failed Political Leader

Through a combination of blind partisanship best characterized by the DeLay-driven mid-decade redistricting and an inability to provide political cover - best illustrated by his allies regularly going down to defeat - Tom Craddick has proven to be a toxic political friend.

  • Craddick Allies Lose: Smart members don't get close to Tom Craddick. Since Craddick became Speaker in 2003, Republicans have lost a net seven seats in the State House. Even a number of Democrats who became part of Craddick's team in return for Chairmanships or plum committee assignments have gone down to defeat in primary elections.
  • Craddick's Majority Cut in Half: Even with George W. Bush on the ballot winning 60 percent of the popular vote in Texas, 3 GOP incumbent seats were lost in the 2004 elections. The 2004 election even saw Craddick's close ally Talmadge Heflin go down, giving the Democrats a net gain of one. (San Antonio Express-News, December 28, 2004) In 2006, without Bush on the ballot, Craddick's Republicans lost a net six seats and not a single Democratic seat was lost in the General Election.

Craddick Allies who have lost since he became Speaker

Election Candidate Party Craddick Appointment
2004 - Primary Ron Wilson Democrat Chair of the Ways and Means Committee
2004 - Primary Glenn Lewis Democrat Chair of the County Affairs Committee
2004 - Primary Roberto Gutierrez Democrat Chair of a House Appropriations Committee
2004 - Primary Jaime Capelo Democrat Chair of the Public Health Committee
2004 - General (Congress) Arlene Wholgemuth Republican Vice Chair of Calendars, Chair of Budget and Oversight of Human Services Committee
2004 - General Jack Stick Republican Appropriations Committee member
2004 - General Talmadge Heflin Republican Chair of the Appropriations Committee
2006 - Primary Kent Grusendorf Republican Chair of the Education Committee
2006 - Primary Elvira Reyna Republican Chair of the Local and Consent Calendars Committees
2006 - Primary Scott Campbell Republican Vice Chair of the Defense Affairs and State Federal Relations Committee
2006 - Primary Terr Keel Republican Chair of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee
2006 - Primary Al Edwards Democrat Chair of the House Committee on Rules and Resolutions
2006 - General Toby Goodman Republican Vice Chair of the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committees
2006 - General Martha Wong Republican Vice Chair of the Rules and Resoltuions and Urban Affairs Committee
2006 - General Bill Keffer Republican Craddick Loyalist
2006 - General Gene Seamen Republican Vice Chair of the Calendars and Insurance Committees

Craddick: Corruption Poisons GOP

Whether he learned from Tom DeLay or comes by it naturally, Craddick has frequently displayed a disturbing willingness to manipulate, bend and sometimes break the rules for both partisan and personal gain. Democrats skillfully used Tom DeLay to define their Republican opponents in 2006. Now, Tom Craddick has become an inviting prop to define Republicans identified as his allies.

  • Illegal Campaign Checks: Tom DeLay will soon stand trial for illegally converting corporate money into campaign checks for 2002 Republican legislative candidates. Tom Craddick was the bagman who delivered the illegal checks.
    According to the Dallas Morning News, "A Travis County grand jury is looking into whether Mr. Craddick received an illegal boost from the political action committee when he sought the leadership post in 2002. In all, 25 checks to Republican House candidates worth $177,000 were routed through Mr. Craddick." (Dallas Morning News, March 30, 2005)
  • Crony Appointments: Craddick's appointments to State Commissions are often friendly lobbyists and political allies. Most notable was Craddick's appointment of bankrupt lobbyist and convicted treasurer of Texans for a Republican Majority, Bill Ceverha to the Texas Employees Retirement System Board. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, December 3, 2006)
  • Craddick Family Plan: Picking up on another Tom DeLay tactic, Craddick has used his political accounts to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to his daughter. According to the Dallas Morning News, "Since February 2003, Ms. Craddick [Tom Craddick's Daughter] has been paid more than $341,000 from three sources: The Stars Over Texas PAC, her father's re-election campaign, and his campaign to be elected speaker by fellow representatives."(Dallas Morning News, April 8, 2006)
  • Lavish Remodeling: Craddick has focused significant time on soliciting unlimited contributions from government contractors, larger corporations, and Republican powerbrokers, to remodel the Texas Speakers Apartment. To date he has raised over $1 million dollars spending it on, "$10,000 Vulcan cooking range, a $1,400 chrome-plated shower door and two brass Kohler toilets priced at about $1,000 each" and "wood [Flooring] harvested from the 1880-1900 period - at a cost of $87,000." (Austin American-Statesman, September 30, 2006, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 9, 2006)