By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
So 51 Democratic legislators fled to a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma, to break a quorum. Most traveled on a chartered bus. Laney flew in his small airplane. Someone from the Texas Department of Public Safety, whose name is redacted on a Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s report, called the feds and implied that Laney’s plane was missing. The Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center — charged with defending our borders against drug smugglers and terrorists — traced the plane to Oklahoma. In Austin, Speaker Craddick used that information to track down the runaway Democrats. In Washington, Majority Leader DeLay threatened to use federal marshals and the FBI to deliver the Democrats back to Austin — because redistricting is federal business.
The 51 Democrats stayed out of state long enough to kill DeLay’s redistricting plan as the session ended. A careful reading of the Homeland Security inspector general’s 111-page report reveals that a Texan whose name is redacted suggested Laney’s plane was lost or off course — so that federal authorities would track it down. The redactee stopped just short of requesting a Federal Aviation Agency search for the plane. (The report was signed by acting Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin, a once and future Republican candidate for a Houston congressional seat.)
Last week, DeLay and Rove pushed Republican Governor Rick Perry into a special session to deal with redistricting. The Legislature convenes next week. DeLay and Craddick promise a fair plan and a democratic process.
Pete Laney’s not saying whether he will fly across the state line again to break a quorum. But he appears to have learned a lesson about the crude, muscular politics practiced by Tom DeLay and Karl Rove. And countenanced by the president he once described as a leader we can trust and respect. Scott Hochberg, a cerebral Houston Democrat who joined Laney in Oklahoma, said DeLay’s redistricting play is bigger than Texas. In the past, we have re-drawn congressional boundaries only every 10 years, after the Census. “If we let them establish a precedent to re-draw the political map whenever they have the votes do to so,” Hochberg said, “this will be happening all over the country.”
If the sun is shining as you read this, Pete Laney is sitting on a tractor. He’s finished in politics, probably won’t stand for re-election and, like Cincinnatus, will return to the plow.
Bush, Rove and DeLay will be with us for a while.
Lou Dubose is the co-author ofBoy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains Behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush and, with Molly Ivins,Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city