Tom Craddick

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Thomas Russell "Tom" Craddick
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 82nd district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 1969
Preceded by Frank Kell Cahoon
Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives
In office
January 2003 – January 2009
Preceded by James "Pete" Laney
Succeeded by Joe Straus
Personal details
Born (1943-09-19) September 19, 1943 (age 70)
Beloit, Wisconsin
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Nadine Nayfa Craddick
Children Thomas R. Craddick, Jr.

Christi Craddick

Residence Midland, Texas
Alma mater Texas Tech University
Occupation Businessman
Religion Roman Catholic

Thomas Russell Craddick, Sr., known as Tom Craddick (born September 19, 1943), is the first Republican to have served as Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives since Reconstruction. Craddick wielded the Speaker's gavel from 2003-2009. A House member from the district based in Midland, Craddick was first elected in 1968 at the age of twenty-five.

On November 6, 2012, when Craddick won his 23rd term in the Texas House, his daughter, Christi Craddick, was easily elected as a Republican to the Texas Railroad Commission, the state's utility regulatory body.


Early career[edit]

While he was a doctoral student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Craddick decided to run for the legislature to succeed the incumbent Republican Frank Kell Cahoon of Midland, was not seeking a third two-year term. According to Craddick's official biography, even his father, businessman R.F. Craddick (1913–1986), warned him: "Texas is run by Democrats. You can't win." Although this part of Texas had become very friendly to Republicans at the national level (portions of this area, for instance, supported Barry M. Goldwater's 1964 presidential run, and Midland itself has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1948), Democrats held most offices at the local level well into the 1980s.

Nonetheless, the Eagle Scout was elected to the Texas House in 1968, one of eight Republicans in the chamber at that time. His victory came on the same day that Richard M. Nixon was elected as U.S. President.

In 1975, Craddick was named chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, the first Republican to have chaired a Texas legislative committee in more than a century. In Texas, a legislator need not be in the majority party to head a committee.

Speaker of the House[edit]

On January 11, 2003, after thirty-four years in the House, Craddick became the first Republican Speaker in more than 130 years. He held the presiding officer's position for six years.

In December 2006, Craddick faced a credible challenge to his re-election as Speaker for the Eightieth Texas Legislature. Brian McCall (R-Plano) and Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie), as well as Democrat Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) all of whom announced candidacies for the speakership. In early January, McCall withdrew and endorsed Pitts.[1] Supporters of Pitts pressed for a secret ballot in order to avoid retribution should their efforts fail,[1] while Craddick had maintained all along that he had more than the minimum number of votes needed for re-election.[2] When the secret ballot measure failed, Pitts withdrew, and Craddick was re-elected to a third term as Speaker on January 9, 2007, by a vote of 121-27.[2][3]

In January 2009, Craddick was finally ousted as Speaker after nearly the entire Democratic Caucus and sixteen wayward Republicans broke ranks to vote for Joe Straus, a two-term Republican from San Antonio.[citation needed]

Craddick won reelection to his House seat in the general election on November 2, 2010. Straus then won a second term as Speaker in January 2011. Two other Republicans, Leo Berman from Tyler and Warren Chisum from Pampa unsuccessfully sought to challenge Straus for the position.

Speaker of the House controversy[edit]

Craddick became increasingly unpopular with not only Democrats but those of his own party, and many called for a new Speaker to be elected.[4]

Chaos erupted in the Texas House of Representatives on Friday, May 25, 2007, when Representative Fred Hill, a Republican from Richardson, attempted to make raise a question of privilege to remove Craddick from office, but Craddick refused to allow him to raise the question.[5] The attempts to oust Craddick continued through the weekend as other Republicans made additional motions, which were also disallowed for a time, although ultimately successful.

The last previous Texas House speaker to be removed was also a Republican, Ira Hobart Evans, who was rejected in 1871 for cooperating with Democrats on an elections bill.[5]

Craddick's close allies, such as Representative Phil King of Weatherford, said that the actions against the Speaker were an effort by Democrats to gain control of the legislature before the legislative and congressional redistricting process of 2011.[5] However, Representative Byron Cook, a Republican from Corsicana, said that the fight was about Craddick having consolidated power with lobbyists and having used campaign contributions to maintain control in the House: "This is about the convergence of money and power and influence," Cook said.[5]

Specifically, Craddick recessed the Legislature for two and a half hours after Representatives attempted to gain recognition to put the question of Craddick's removal to a vote. When Representative Hill asked to vote to remove Mr. Craddick, the Speaker replied: "The Speaker's power of recognition on any matter cannot be appealed."[6]

His parliamentarian, Denise Davis disagreed, stating that question of privilege relating to the removal of a Speaker from office is so highly privileged one that even the leader may not refuse. When Craddick shunned her advice, Davis and her assistant, Chris Griesel, resigned. Craddick immediately hired former Representative Terry Keel of Austin to the post as well as former Representative (and present-day lawyer) Ron Wilson as Keel's assistant.

After calling the recess, Democratic Representative Garnet Coleman of Houston called the speaker "Chicken Craddick."[6]

The session resumed until 1 a.m. and despite further protests from members of the legislature, Craddick remained in his position as Speaker, and the session was recessed.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Thomas Craddick is married to the former Nadine Nayfa, a native of Sweetwater in west Texas. She is of Lebanese descent. In addition to their daughter Christi, the couple has a son, Thomas, Jr., and a grandson, Thomas Russell Craddick, III. Craddick holds undergraduate and graduate business degrees from Texas Tech. He lists his occupation as a sales representative for Mustang Mud, an oilfield supply company, although he also is a real estate speculator and developer.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sandberg, Lisa; Peggy Fikac (2007-01-06). "Speaker's job may hang on vote rules: Some say Craddick would lose if balloting is done in secret". Houston Chronicle. p. B1. Retrieved 2007-01-11. "Many political watchers say a secret ballot would give House members cover to orchestrate a coup against the incumbent Craddick, and not suffer political fallout (bad committee assignments) if they fail." 
  2. ^ a b Sandberg, Lisa; Peggy Fikac (2007-01-10). "Craddick re-elected speaker after Pitts bows out". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 
  3. ^ There was one vacancy in the 150-member chamber, and Craddick abstained.
  4. ^ a b "Monkey and other business". The Economist. 2007-05-31. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  5. ^ a b c d R.G. Ratcliffe and Gary Scharrer (2007-05-27). "The House struggles to move forward". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  6. ^ a b Craddick causes frenzy in House

External links[edit]

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
Frank Kell Cahoon
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 70 (Midland)

1969–1973
Succeeded by
Hilary B. Doran, Jr.
Preceded by
Ace Pickens
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 68 (Midland)

1973–1983
Succeeded by
Dudley Harrison
Preceded by
Pete Laney
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 76 (Midland)

1983–1993
Succeeded by
Nancy McDonald
Preceded by
Nolan Robnett
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 82 (Midland)

1993 – present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Pete Laney
Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives
2003–2009
Succeeded by
Joe Straus