Craddick's Historic Reign

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Tom Craddick made history four years ago when he became the first Republican to lead the Texas House since 1871. Now he could be the first Texas speaker to be voted out of the powerful office. That could happen today when the 149-member House votes for speaker.

Michael Phillips, a Texas historian writing a book about the office of House speaker, said no one in the job has ever had it taken away by a vote of his peers. Then again, he said no one has ever exercised the almost unbridled power that has come to characterize Craddick's reign.

The same forceful leadership that helped Craddick push a conservative agenda through the House could be his downfall.

Representative Jim Pitts, Craddick's opponent, is a former ally who says the office needs to be more traffic cop than disciplinarian.

Complaints about Craddick's leadership style re-emerged recently over a debate about how the House would administer the vote for speaker. Representative Richard Raymond subsequently withdrew his support of Craddick.