Rep. Warren Chisum, the man who brought us the Texas version of the "Defense of Marriage Act", announced his candidacy for Speaker of the Texas House today according to the Austin American Statesmen.
You may remember Chisum for his attempt to block the divorce of two men in Dallas, as the person who killed Rep. Strama's anti-bullying bill, or as the reason the Texas hate crimes statute says "Sexual Preference" instead of "Sexual Orientation". I, however, will forever remember him as the man who removed legislation to create a statewide commission on Holocaust and Genocide from consideration rather than allow an amendment to be offered that would have recognized that the Nazis targeted queer people.
The Speaker of the House is elected by members of the House from among House members of the ruling party. In 2009 the current Speaker, Joe Straus, replaced the former speaker Tom Craddick by putting together a coalition of Democratic and Republican House members.
Strauss has been praised for his hands-off bipartisan approach to the Speakership. Which stands in sharp contrast to the strong-armed approach favored by Craddick. (Craddick's many controversial decisions led to the phrase "Bad Precedents" becoming a kind of inside joke around the capitol.) Chisum was a major supporter of Craddick, who gave him prime committee appointments and generous support for his legislative agenda.
Chisum is far outside of the mainstream of the house, and frankly has very little chance of becoming Speaker. Announcing his candidacy is the impotent act of a bitter, defeated man.
However, the thought of a Chisum speakership should be frightening enough to provide any fair-minded Texan with their share of chills this Halloween season.