This article was written by Stewart Doreen, MRT.com/Midland Reporter-Telegram.
If there is someone who can address whether a person is qualified to be speaker of the Texas House, it is Tom Craddick.
During his 50 years representing Midland County, Craddick has served under seven men who led the House, and for three sessions, he was the speaker. There is no one in the state with the institutional knowledge of the Midland Republican, and on Tuesday, Craddick told the Reporter-Telegram he isn’t worried about Dennis Bonnen — the pro-business, conservative legislator from the Houston area community of Angleton — who likely will be the next speaker of the Texas House.
Reports indicate that Bonnen came forward last weekend to end the speakership hopes of many. Armed with pledges of a large number of Republicans and some Democrats, the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and former speaker pro-tempore has put an end to the speculation. One of those commitments came from Craddick.
Craddick said Tuesday that Bonnen has a great background, has been a committee chairman, is experienced in the process and knows the rules. “All those things that are important to making the House work.”
Craddick also said he is a man of the House. Reports indicate Bonnen has a history of standing up for what is important to legislators in the House, even if that means being at odds with state leaders elsewhere. Craddick said there are difference in bills as they move into conference committees (which include members of the House and Senate), and that Bonnen is “known for standing up for the House” and the views of its members.
A man who can unify House members has been part of the reporting on Bonnen seen thus far. A Texas Tribune article on Monday reported Bonnen was “flanked by at least two members of the hardline conservative Texas House Freedom Caucus — Jeff Leach of Plano and Mike Lang of Granbury — and state Rep. Tom Craddick … among other Republicans and Democrats.
A different article described the broad base of support, quoting Republican Drew Springer, who said, “We knew that Dennis … could cross over to guys like [former House] Speaker [Tom] Craddick down to incoming freshmen like [Republican] Brad Buckley.”
The Tribune reported “Bonnen sits close to the party’s right-most flank — a political science professor’s unofficial list ranks him the 126th most conservative of the 150-member chamber – and that former speaker Joe Straus picked Bonnen twice to be the chair of Ways and Means.
Bonnen’s rise will mean the three most powerful seats in state government — governor, lieutenant governor and speaker — will have ties to Houston. Craddick doesn’t believe that will have a negative impact on West Texas. He believes Bonnen will be able to work with each legislator and see their needs. Craddick said the needs of the Permian Basin start with infrastructure and education.
“Funding for roads and infrastructure and a better situation for schools, that is my responsibility,” Craddick said.