Today, Dewhurst recognized Fraser at a point in the session when most members thought the ceremonial resolutions were still proceeding. Indeed, many members had not yet made it to the floor: some, like Van de Putte and Kirk Watson, had checked in with Senate Secretary Patsy Spaw and ventured to the House to lobby their own bills. Van de Putte got an urgent cell phone call when Fraser was recognized; she shouted to Watson that they needed to get back to vote ASAP. Watson sprinted through the Rotunda and Van de Putte followed (as best she could, in high heels).
When Spaw began taking the vote, Whitmire held up two fingers indicating he was voting no, and thinking he would have to filibuster, took a quick bathroom break. Unbeknownst to him, Spaw had not seen his vote. Royce West saw that Whitmire’s vote had not been recorded and informed him. He asked Dewhurst to show him voting no, and Dewhurst rejected his request. Then all hell broke loose.
“I just started hollering, ‘you are not going to keep me from voting on this bill,’” Whitmire acknowledged. Calm down, Senator Whitmire, Dewhurst responded. Returning to his desk, Whitmire, slammed his hand on his desk. Again, Dewhurst scolded: Senator Whitmire, calm down, or I will have you removed from the floor.
“I was on the floor and he tried to pull something that goes against everything we stand for around here,” Whitmire said.”We leave the floor all the time. You don’t try to catch people off the floor and not let them represent their districts.”
Eliot Shapleigh’s son graduates next Tuesday, and he asked Dewhurst after today’s imbroglio if Dewhurst would promise not to bring the bill up that day so that he could attend his son’s graduation. I can’t guarantee you that, Dewhurst reportedly told him. Democrats now are rounding up Republican allies to allow Shapleigh to attend his son’s graduation.
Wow. Sleazy, sleazy, sleazy. Forgive me for being cynical about Sen. Van de Putte’s assertion that even her Republican colleagues were shocked by this, or about the likelihood of finding a Republican ally to have Shapleigh’s back on Tuesday. This bill is as nakedly partisan as redistricting was in 2003, with the same effect. I hope there’s someone who’ll prefer winning by the rules to winning by any means necessary, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
And yes, this is all about David Dewhurst’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. What else will Dewhurst do in pursuit of that goal? And what might the Democrats plus any Republican Senators who don’t support his candidacy do to throw sand in his gears? Just think, we’ve got a whole ‘nother session after this one to find out.