For the first time in 130 years, Republicans control the Texas House of Representatives, and the Democratic leader is out. South Plains native Pete Laney no longer has the majority support he needs to lead the Texas House of Representatives. On Thursday, Laney conceded that spot.
But the change in leadership isn't necessarily bad news for West Texas. It definitely won't eliminate the West Texas voice. That's because the new Republican Speaker of the House, Tom Craddick, is from Midland, and he's a Texas Tech graduate.
After 10 years as Speaker of the House, Democrat Pete Laney is out, and longtime State Representative Tom Craddick of Midland is staking his claim as the highest ranking member of the House. "Today, we are here to tell all those interested parties, obviously the people around us. And Nadine and I want to thank all of you for coming, basically to tell you we have the sufficient number of pledges to be elected in the next session of the legislature as Speaker," says Craddick.
Laney's concession ends a 10 year run for the Hale Center native. Laney said in a statement on Thursday that he has accomplished the goals he set out for 10 years ago. "We have managed our state's finances responsibly. It is my hope the house will continue, as an example of bipartisan leadership and cooperation," said Laney in a statement.
The shift in the House from a Democratic majority to a Republican majority was a big one. Of the 150 seats in the house, Republicans now hold 88, while Democrats hold 62. Lubbock Rep Delwin Jones was one of 17 Republicans who supported Laney as Speaker because Laney is a fellow West Texan. "When the number got to 88, we couldn't hold him. Pete Laney could not win the speakership. We knew it. He knew it," says Jones.
Despite the changes, Jones says he is throwing his support to the new speaker, Tom Craddick, with little hesitation. "We've still got West Texas support because Craddick is Midland. Craddick is Texas Tech, so our West Texas area is still in a key position."
Had the new speaker been a big city guy, Jones says we might be in a precarious position. However, this change gives West Texas and issues important to West Texans the same stability Pete Laney gave us.
The winds of change are also good for the Republican agenda. Craddick will take Laney's place when the House votes to make it official, January 14th.