Democrats Say They Have the Votes to Oust Tom Craddick

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - State House Democrats say they've lined up enough opposition to oust Republican Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick.

They released a long list of lawmakers today who say they won't vote for the Midland Republican "under any circumstances." But their contention is disputed by Craddick's camp.

The list bears signatures of 64 of the 74 House Democrats. Those 64 aren't enough to topple Craddick. But Democrats count on a handful of Republicans who have said they won't support him to build a 76-vote majority to force election of a new speaker.

The speaker is one of the most powerful positions in Texas politics, setting the legislative agenda. The speaker is elected by the members of the House of Representatives.  Craddick is the first Republican speaker since post-Civil War Reconstruction.

He survived an attempt to oust him in the final days of the 2007 legislative session and has maintained that he'll have enough votes to win another two-year team when lawmakers meet again in January.