Thursday, September 20, 2007

Texas Democrats move closer to control of the state House

That’s after Grand Prairie Republican Representative Kirk England announced he is becoming a Democrat:

"After one session in the House, I found that the Republican leadership in Austin had no tolerance for the values and priorities of the folks I represent," England said in a statement.

Add that to the retirement:of GOP state Rep. Fred Hill of Richardson, and state Democrats have given House Speaker Tom Craddick something more to worry about than an intraparty challenge to his holding the speakership. The Richardson seat should be competitive in an open election.

The House is currently split 80-70 with England’s switch; that means Democrats need to pick up five seats to tie and six to gain control. (Sidebar: will the House ever become smart enough to add one, or some other odd number, of members, to prevent a tie, barring third-party state representatives?)

I’ll give Democrats, as of this moment, a 40-60 shot of regaining the House in 2008; it all depends on how well they can hand Gov. Rick Perry around vulnerable Republican incumbents’ necks.

I’m sure England feels the same; above and beyond his statement above, the possibility of change of party control surely is behind his decision.