Here’s another story to keep an eye on.
On election day, one of the most powerful legislators in the Texas House of Representatives, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Talmadge Heflin (R-Houston) got beat by a Vietnamese American businessman named Hubert Vo (D).
It was awfully close — 32 votes. And it was also the first Democratic gain in the Texas state House in 32 years. (They’ve had a string of rough decades.)
With such a narrow margin, Heflin is understandably calling for a manual recount, which he’s just officially requested.
But more than that seems to be afoot.
Speaker Tom Craddick — the guy who handled the DeLay redistricting power grab last year — has made all sorts of noise that he’s cutting Heflin loose. He even reassigned his plum Appropriations Committee chairmanship. At the same time, the Texas Republicans’ hotshot election lawyer Andy Taylor — the guy who handled the redistricting business for Craddick and DeLay — is representing Heflin and tossing around charges of voter fraud.
Taylor’s presence makes Democrats understandably suspicious about whether Craddick and Co. have really given up on the thought of trying to seat Heflin by any means necessary.
And here’s how they’d do it.
Under Texas law, in addition to asking for a recount, Heflin can challenge the validity of the election by filing an official challenge with the secretary of state. Based on that challenge Speaker Craddick would appoint a member of the House as a “special master” to investigate the election. If that ‘investigation’ finds irregularities and fraud, as Andy Taylor is already alleging, they order that a new election be held — effectively invalidating the results of the election.
Needless to say, the Texas state House is now in Republican hands. So what all of that means is that Tom DeLay’s local sub-boss, Speaker Craddick, gets to decide whether Hubert Vo’s election gets tossed out on the basis of spurious charges of ‘irregularities’ and ‘voter fraud.’
Of course, these are just the things Craddick could do if he chose. For Craddick and DeLay and the rest of them to actually try pulling this off would be amazingly bold and brazen.
But, then, look who we’re talking about …