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In one of the many diaries about the amazing actions going on in Wisconsin, including the quorum busting Senators who have disappered, I left a few comments about the Texas history of similar actions. At least one commenter thought the background was interesting enough to compile into a diary. You can jump over if you think it might be interesting, too. (I've added some commentary from Molly Ivins, so you know at least part of it will be interesting)

The first break out was in 1979. The fight was actually between liberal and conservative Dems over how the primaries would be structured

All liberal-to-moderate Democrats, the twelve senators had blocked legislation and opposed Hobby so often in the past that he had dubbed them "the Killer Bees." They did not so much mind an early primary as they did the plan to divide the voting into two events: one in March for President, the second in May for state offices.

The whole thing was pure Texas, in its own way:

It was one of the most celebrated man hunts in the history of the state. As many as 50 lawmen, including members of the vaunted Texas Rangers, combed the countryside, scanning the sagebrush and cactus scrubland from helicopters, throwing up roadblocks, searching bars, and rummaging through seedy Mexican border towns. For five days the hunt went on ....

.....the dozen agreed simply to vanish from the 31 -seat state senate, thus blocking any senate action by preventing the necessary quorum of 21. The next morning ten of the Bees (two others simply left the state) began hiding out in a 12-ft. by 20-ft. room in a garage apartment that had only two beds, a shower, a toilet and a sink—and a peephole in the door. Most of the Bees figured that they would be there only a short time until Hobby agreed to drop the bill, but he instead empowered the state law-enforcement officers to arrest the fugitives and return them to Austin.

A5 the search went on, the holed-up Bees whiled away the time by watching television soap operas, playing cards, studying the rules of the senate and consuming more than $350 worth of liquor and cold food smuggled into their hideaway by trusted assistants. The ill-prepared band soon began to swelter in the small room. They shed their outer clothes, padded around in underwear, and began to get on each other's nerves.

...they nearly did nail Senator Gene Jones, who had chosen to leave the hideout because he had just sworn off cigarettes and was getting edgy in the smoke-filled room. To avoid the police, Jones was house-hopping around Houston. When a Ranger and another lawman arrived at the place where he was staying, the clean-shaven Jones jumped over a back fence; the police thereupon arrested his mustachioed brother Clayton and, despite his avowal that he was the wrong man, helicoptered him back to Austin. People began calling the cops the "Bumble Bees."

Fast forward to 1993, and taking a page from the Killer Bees' book, House Dems (later dubbed Killer D's) took a stand in objecting to DeLay's redistricting plans. It started with the House

The Killer Ds are a group of Texas House Democrats who left Texas for Ardmore, Oklahoma during the week of May 12, 2003. The Killer Ds left to prevent House consideration of the redistricting legislation that would have benefited Texas Republicans

And Dems in the Senate took a similar action when the bill was presented there

The Texas Eleven were a group of Texas Senate Democrats who fled Texas for Albuquerque, New Mexico for 46 days in 2003 aimed at preventing the passage of controversial redistricting legislation that would have allegedly benefited Texas Republicans. A group of Texas House representatives, dubbed the Killer Ds, had fled the state earlier that same summer for the same reason.

There were substantial shenanigans in the search for the House members hiding out in Oklahoma, including involvement from Homeland Security and the FAA - and subsequent cover ups.

Democrats in Texas and Washington accused DeLay of ordering federal Homeland Security Department forces to help search for the missing legislators. DeLay denied it. But Homeland Security officials acknowledged Thursday that they helped looked for a state plane assigned to a senior Texas Democrat because state police feared it was missing.
Department officials said Texas law enforcement officials had misled them into believing that the plane might have been in mechanical trouble or had crashed.
In fact, department officials said, the Texas state police, acting on orders of Republicans who control the Texas House of Representatives, were searching for the plane on Monday to try to track down the Democratic lawmaker and several of his colleagues, in hopes of forcing them home and establishing a quorum that would allow a vote on a disputed Republican redistricting plan.
The fight over the flight of Democratic legislators intensified yesterday as the Texas Department of Public Safety admitted it had destroyed documents that were collected last week as state troopers searched for the missing lawmakers.
Today's uproar began after The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that a commander at the Department of Public Safety issued an e-mail notice instructing that all "notes, correspondence, photos, etc." concerning the search "be destroyed immediately."

And over at the FAA

According to Balloff, he first learned of the absent legislators in the May 13 Washington Post and later (much later) told investigators (says the report), "I figured out why they were calling. ... I just felt like I had been used. ... I don't do anything for political purposes. ... I would never use my office to help somebody out politically, for any political reasons, period." (Although Balloff was immediately aware that the agency was reviewing the circumstances of the search, he made a point of not telling his superiors about his involvement until he was asked a direct question he couldn't evade.)

Inspector General Mead is rather politely circumspect about Balloff's versions of events, but anyone reading the report is extremely likely to conclude that Balloff's virginal protestations are -- well, pure-dee Texas bullshit. Not only was the Democrats' flight a statewide and nationwide story by Monday afternoon when Balloff began making his calls, not only did even some of the air-traffic controllers themselves recognize immediately what was up ("You must be looking for the missing Democrats," one told the DPS), according to his official FAA bio, Balloff is a former longtime Republican congressional staffer and "a three-time elected member to the Tennessee State Republican Executive Committee."

And, for a taste of Molly's commentary at the time:

The latest flap is over a congressional redistricting map that is so bad it's actually funny. Of course, the thing was passed without public hearings, because as Rep. Joe Crabb explained, "The rest of us would have a very difficult time if we were out in an area — other than Austin or other English-speaking areas — to be able to have committee hearings or to be able to converse with people that did not speak English." Sometimes you have to wonder what planet these people are from.
That was the proverbial straw for the Democrats, 53 of whom left the state or went into hiding Sunday to break the quorum, thus bringing legislative business to a halt. They've already been dubbed the Killer D's, after the tradition of the Killer Bees in 1979. Believe me, stopping the legislature from functioning at this point is high public service.
When last we left the saga of Texas' few living elected Democrats, they had fled the state pursued by minions of the law — legislators on the lam. These courageous citizens, fleeing vile Republican oppression in their state capital, took refuge at the Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma....

Gov. Goodhair Perry, who keeps saying he wants more civility and bipartisanship, denounced the AWOL solons as "cowardly," childish" and "irresponsible." It was a bad day for bipartisanship....

The manhunt continued despite the presence of a swelling press corps in Ardmore. Gov. Perry asked neighboring governors to arrest the perps on sight. The attorney general of New Mexico obligingly put out an all-points bulletin on any politicians who favor health care and oppose tax cuts for the rich. U.S. House Majority Leader Tom (the Hammer) DeLay, who caused the walkout with a stupefying redistricting map, threatened to send the federales after the recalcitrant D's. Yup, he wants to send the FBI and the U.S. Marshals to bring the runaway solons home in cuffs.

So, may the Dem leadership in Wisconsin create its own legend - and with better success than Texas ultimately enjoyed from the redistricting fight.

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