By Laylan Copelin, Mike Ward - AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF - Saturday, May 26, 2007
Speaker Tom Craddick refused early this morning to recognize a motion to remove him from office after a long, raucous evening on the House floor.Read more
During several hours of pandemonium and tedium (during lengthy recesses), Craddick's two parliamentarians resigned, former Reps. Terry Keel and Ron Wilson assumed those posts and members began discussing taking the speaker's ruling to court.
For weeks, mutiny against Craddick had been building, and a motion to remove him was expected to come Sunday after the $153 billion budget was approved and out of the way.
On Friday night, however, the House stumbled into open confrontation when Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, a Craddick opponent, began asking questions about the removal procedure. Dunnam said he had not intended to start a fight Friday night, but he and other House members were caught off-guard by Craddick's remarks.
Craddick said the speaker doesn't have to recognize a member with motion to remove the leader — and the speaker's ruling can't be appealed.
After several minutes of parliamentary back-and-forth, and a 45-minute break for Craddick to consult with key lieutenants, the speaker returned to the House floor about 8:40 p.m., attempting to resume approval of bills without answering more questions about his stance.
When a House member objected, Craddick recessed the House until 11 p.m. and left with a cadre of sergeants-at-arms and supporters by his side.
The House then burst into chaos, with members booing and demanding that Craddick return, that he resign and that the House continue business. Many yelled when the House clerk posted an electronic message at the front of the House Chamber announcing the delay.