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Pitts withdraws Speaker bid

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AUSTIN - Moments before press deadline on late Tuesday afternoon Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, withdrew his name for Speaker of the House.

Pitts had been seeking to unseat incumbent Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, whose held the seat since 2003.

The Dallas Morning News reported on their blog that Pitts said 'he's going to vote for Craddick ‘to begin the healing.''

Pitts was looking to become the next speaker in the House of Representatives.

Lawmakers were scheduled to select the next Speaker of House after convening into the 80th Legislative Session Tuesday at noon.

Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, a 36-year veteran of the House of Representatives was elected Speaker of the House in January 2003.

Craddick was selected as speaker again in 2005 by an overwhelming margin, but this year faced stiff competition from Pitts.

In 2005 Craddick appointed Pitts to serve as Chairman on the House Appropriations committee, which determines how state money would be spent.

Each time a new legislative session begins, state representatives must select one of their own to serve as Speaker.

After announcing his bid for the Speaker position on Dec. 27, Pitts said he had no doubt he could bridge the divide between Republicans and Democrats by removing the bitter partisanship occurring in the legislature in recent years.

'I have the leadership experience to work through the tough issues this next session,' Pitts said.

'I'm a candidate who pledges to keep an open door and an open mind because that is what is needed in Texas today to restore the government that the people of Texas deserve.

Craddick served as speaker during one of the most turbulent times in Texas history as district boundaries were redrawn after Republicans won control of the state legislature. Many state representatives said Craddick used strong-arm tactics to get state lawmakers to vote the way he wanted.

'We deserve a speaker that will lead by consensus and not by edict and who will understand when members vote that it is in the best interest of their districts,' he said.

Pitts also spoke to ethics, saying, 'As the next speaker of the Texas House, I will work to uphold a high standard of ethical conduct in the House, and I will let the process work.'

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