At the beginning of this week, I fully expected an emotional insurrection overthrowing the presiding officer of one chamber of the Legislature -- on the west side of the Capitol. But this morning, David Dewhurst's handling of the Voter ID bill created such havoc that if the Senate rules allowed for a motion to vacate the chair, the votes surely would have been there to support it.
For weeks, Dewhurst has been coyly suggesting that he had the votes to pass the Voter ID bill, though 11 Democrats had all signed a letter stating they would vote to block its consideration. While Republicans call the proposal requiring a picture ID to vote the "Voter Integrity Bill," Democrats consider it the "Voter Suppression Bill." This morning, Dewhurst recognized author Troy Fraser to bring up the legislation, and the Democrats knew something was up. John Whitmire approached the podium and asked Dewhurst, "Do ya'll have this rigged?" Dewhurst's response: "Rigged," he said, was too strong of a word.
Senate Democrats have been watching for and trying to be prepared for a trick play. Their staffs search every day for vehicles that can be amended with the Voter ID language; Democratic caucus chair Leticia Van de Putte is alerted when each Democrat makes it to the building every day. Liver transplant patient Mario Gallegos has stayed in Austin against doctor's orders specifically to block the bill.