By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

Tom Craddick is out, and newly-elected District 55 Rep. Ralph Sheffield isn't too happy about the possible replacement.

San Antonio Republican Rep. Joe Straus released a list of 85 pledges of support Sunday evening, more than enough to win the election on Jan. 13.

"He's very inexperienced," Sheffield said of Straus. "I think someone else is going to be pulling the strings."

District 54 Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock said Sunday night he had talked to some of Craddick's staff and said it was over for Craddick.

Aycock has remained a Craddick ally amid growing opposition.

As has Sheffield, who has thrown his support with about 60 core Republicans onto the back of longtime Amarillo Republican John Smithee. Smithee withdrew his candidacy for the position on Monday.

An Associated Press report released Sunday stated that Straus had earned 92 of 150 members of the House.

That's not good for this tough economic time, said Sheffield, who believes that Straus' lack of experience combined with a pro-choice stance and history of supporting gambling initiatives doesn't speak well for the future if Straus is elected.

"I really felt like Craddick was the best man for the seat," Sheffield said. "There's about 60 of us that agreed to come out and support Smithee out of Amarillo. He's a good conservative. He's against gambling."

Sheffield added that Craddick may have contributed to the problem with his late announcement.

"I think unfortunately Craddick waited too long for the announcement," Sheffield said, who is losing one of his allies before his first session. "(Smithee) has worked hard and has been here a long time. We still feel like we need someone with strong conservative values. He has a strong voting record.

"We're losing a lot that we've been fighting for."

Craddick's tenure has been marked by complaints from Republicans and Democrats that he rules the chamber like a dictator and forces lawmakers to bend to his will.

Republicans hold a 76-74 majority in the House.

All but four House Democrats endorsed Straus.

Craddick became speaker in 2003 and quickly pushed through a conservative agenda of congressional redistricting, lawsuit limitations and a new business tax.

Contact Justin Cox at or call (254) 501-7568.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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