Impeachment in Texas history
In the eyes of some of his detractors in the blogosphere, that's too long. Political activist Linda Curtis has started a Web site calling on legislators in 2009 to impeach the governor. (www.impeachperry.indytexans. org/).
That's a pretty rash idea. But since Texas doesn't allow for recall elections, like the one that nailed California Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in 2003, Texans' only way to toss Perry out before the 2010 election would be impeachment.
Curtis's top two (of 10) reasons for wanting to oust the governor are the imposition of toll roads during the Perry administration, including the possibility of condemning land, lots of land, for the Trans-Texas Corridor; and Perry's veto of $154 million for health insurance for community college staff members.
"We intend to take this campaign out across the state, to all political camps, and to neuter this administration," Curtis wrote. "Whether or not that leads to Perry's impeachment will be up to the legislature. Let's see if history does indeed repeat itself."
Perry spokesman Robert Black's only response to the impeachment talk was to say, "Free speech is a wonderful thing."
It's been 90 years since Texas had its first and last gubernatorial impeachment. That one, in 1917, bagged Gov. James E. Ferguson, primarily over a battle with The University of Texas.
Ferguson, in his second two-year term, wanted the school's board of regents to can some professors he found objectionable. The regents refused. So Ferguson vetoed almost the entire appropriation for the university.
To say that that irked the Legislature is an understatement.
After the Texas House of Representatives voted that he be tried for impeachment, the Texas Senate voted 25-3 - well above the required two-thirds of those present - to remove him from office and made him ineligible for any office of honor, trust or profit under the state of Texas.
Ferguson, however, resigned a day before his actual removal, and maintained it didn't apply to him since he'd already resigned. His successor was then-Lt. Gov. William P. Hobby, Sr., whose son Bill later set the state record at 18 years' service as lieutenant governor.
Ferguson, known as "Pa," ran for governor again in 1918, but the elder Hobby beat him. Ferguson ran for the U.S. Senate in 1922, but lost. In 1924, he wanted to run for governor, but the Texas Supreme Court ruled that he couldn't take office if he won. So he ran his wife Miriam, known as "Ma," who won, becoming Texas' first woman governor.
"Ma" Ferguson lost for re-election in 1926. She ran again and lost in 1930, but won in 1932 - her last term. She ran again in 1940, but finished a distant fourth to W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel in the Democratic primary.
There was brief talk by Republican Gov. Bill Clements in 1987 of impeaching Democratic Texas Supreme Court Justices William Kilgarlin and C. L. Ray, for allegations of conflicts. That never got off the ground.
But ironically, later that same year, Democratic state Reps. Paul Moreno of El Paso and Al Edwards of Houston wanted to impeach Clements over the cover-up of a play-for-pay football scandal at Southern Methodist University while he was on its board of regents. That also went nowhere.
California's Gray Davis is one of only two state governors removed by recall election. The first was North Dakota's Lynn Frazier in 1921, during an economic depression. He then was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1922, where he served until losing for re-election in 1940.
Eighteen states currently allow recall elections.
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