It is ironic that the crash of the triumphant House Speaker Glen Casada’s empire may have been the result of him and his minions being petty and vindictive. Imagine that. Did they do it to themselves?
A series of electronic messages was at the heart of all the revelations about dope, public-restroom sex and racist texts. Where did they come from? How did Newschannel 5 get copies? The electronic messages had to come from someone in the inner circle – someone on the favorites list that got copies of the damning missives.
Here’s how it may have gone down. The word around Capitol Hill is that one of the Young Guns in Casada’s posse of political operatives did not toe the line. This operative worked for a candidate who was not on the Casada preferred list. After the election, the Casada crowd not only shut the guy out, but they also got him fired from his job. Unnecessary. Petty. Vindictive. Stupid. This Young Gun likely had kept all the nasty messages on which he had been copied.
Once the ball got rolling, momentum built. And Casada’s support, much of which was based on fear rather than respect, eroded. It reached a tipping point with a vote of no confidence. But it didn’t have to happen, and it did happen because Casada and his “boys” are just mean.
Having demonstrated his stupidity and vindictiveness, Casada makes you wonder what he will do next. He has said he will resign as House speaker but plans to keep his legislative seat. Can you imagine what mischief he might get up to in that event? He has until August to try to maneuver things so that one of his legislative lackeys, like Deputy Speaker Matthew Hill, gets the speaker chair. Then Casada may think he can still call the shots and influence House operations – what state Rep. Mike Carter calls a “shadow speaker.” Can you see one of his cronies making him chair of the budget subcommittee, arguably the most powerful post after the speaker?
The only person dumb enough to think such a plan would work is Casada.
Why are the Republicans letting Casada dictate the terms of his exit? He won’t resign until August. The problem is that there is no provision to remove the speaker. The speaker is elected by the whole House – not just his/her party – and elected to a two-year term. Suppose Casada refuses to resign the speaker’s job? Can you envision a court case dragging the issue out for months?
Do we want legislators next session to put in a process for replacing the speaker? If you do that, allowing the speaker to be ousted by a majority vote, you have greatly reduced the speaker’s power. And it takes power to preside over 99 House members; otherwise you have gridlock. The solution, of course, is that you should elect honorable people as speaker. But the House had two-dozen new members this session, and Casada helped most of them get elected. They owed him and provided a base of support that put him in the lead in the race, prompting existing members to vote for him to try to avoid being on the losing side.
It’s unlikely that such a massive number of new members would occur very often. And the longer the Republicans take dealing with Casada, the less time for the next speaker to raise funds for the next election.
The Democrats have the issue of the unpopular voucher bill against half the Republican House members and they have the Casada scandal, and the GOP may not have enough time to raise a huge war chest. If the Democrats were an organized political party with a statewide network, they might be able to gain some seats in the House. At least the party could reduce the Republican supermajority.
That might serve as a wakeup call for House Republicans.