AUSTIN -- It's showdown time in Austin, where renegade Republicans are plotting the overthrow of long-serving House Speaker Tom Craddick, one of the most powerful leaders in state government.
At least 11 GOP House members are meeting at a private residence Friday. They're promising to produce a consensus speaker candidate who will lead the badly divided chamber when the 81st session of the Texas Legislature convenes this month.
Dissident Republicans began arriving at the meeting shortly before 4 p.m.
Seen walking into the meeting were Reps. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, and Brian McCall, a Republican from Plano who filed paperwork late Friday to run for speaker. Eleven or more members were said to be involved in the effort to oust the sitting speaker.
Craddick is the longest serving Republican in state elective office. He plans to hold his own meeting Sunday, and his supporters say he has far more votes than any single candidate.
Still, Craddick's admission that he lacks a majority of the 150-member body has sown doubt that the Midland oilman will remain in his powerful post.
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