PItts Withdraws - Craddick to Remain House Speaker

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The Texas House has voted 121-to-27 to keep Tom Craddick as speaker.

The vote came after Representative Jim Pitts dropped out of the speaker's race late Tuesday.

Craddick -- who's from Midland -- won the leadership post in 2003 and became the first Republican to hold the job in 130 years.

Republican Pitts -- who's from Waxahachie -- has been a top Craddick lieutenant the past two years since the speaker named him to lead the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

But the two disagreed at times over the state budget and school funding.

The Associated Press reports the withdrawal of Pitts solidifies a Craddick legislative reign that's come under criticism as too heavy-handed and undemocratic.

Pitts told House members -- quote -- "It's time to heal" and proceed with Texas business.

But Pitts cautions that the divisive atmosphere of the House must end.