This article has been updated since publication. 

The decision of Republican lawmakers to allow the appointment of Democrat committee chairs has been an issue that many conservative voters in Texas have opposed.

Banning Democrat chairs was one of the GOP priorities for the 2023-2024 legislative session.

In January 2023, Republican voters denounced the decision by House Speaker Dade Phelan not to allow a vote on whether Democrats should continue chairing committees. More than a thousand Republican voters protested at the Capitol, voicing their disapproval.

Nevertheless, Phelan appointed eight Democrats to committee chair positions in February 2023.

More recently, Gov. Greg Abbott has criticized Republican lawmakers who promoted Democrats to leadership positions and notably did not endorse Phelan in the primary election.

Texas Scorecard contacted all of the Republican candidates running in the runoff election for House and Senate seats to ask where they stood on Democrats being placed in leadership positions and whether the practice should be banned.

Senate District 30

Brent Hagenbuch: “Yes. There is a difference between collegiality and capitulation. The majority party should not yield to the tyranny of the minority.”

Jace Yarbrough: “The era of going along to get along in Austin is over. It’s time for Republicans to wield the authority they have been given by the people of Texas rather than walk the enemy through our gates.”

House District 1

Chris Spencer: “I will vote for a true conservative as House Speaker, one that commits up front to not appoint Democrat committee chairs. The Republican Party is the majority in the Texas House. It is time to act like it.”

State Rep. Gary VanDeaver did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 12

Ben Bius: “Yes, I will vote to appoint ONLY Republican Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs in the Texas House of Representatives. I will only cast a vote for a true conservative Speaker of the Texas House who pledges to only appoint conservative Republican Chairs and Vice Chairs and I will vote against any House rules that do not include this provision. I will also not support the appointment of any House official, such as Parliamentarian, who is not a Republican. Republicans are the majority party in the Texas House of Representatives. It’s high time we start acting like it!”

Trey Wharton: “Yes, I would support banning the practice of awarding committee chairmanships to the minority party (Democrats).”

House District 21

David Covey: “When Republicans have been awarded the majority by Texas voters, we should govern accordingly. Appointing radical Democrats to committee chairmanships sends a message that there isn’t a Republican better suited to represent Texans’ interests. I absolutely support banning Democrats from key positions of power.”

Speaker Dade Phelan did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 29

Neither Jeffrey Barry nor Alex Kamkar responded to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 30

AJ Louderback: “I am 100% in favor of banning Democrat chairmen.”

Jeff Bauknight did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 33

Katrina Pierson: “Yes. It makes no logical sense for a Republican-controlled legislature to share power with Democrats.”

State Rep. Justin Holland did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 44

Alan Schoolcraft: “I absolutely support banning the practice of awarding committee chairmanships to the minority party. Voters who elect Republican candidates do so because they want to see a conservative Republican agenda enacted. There is no good reason to put Democrats into positions of power where they can thwart those efforts.”

State Rep. John Kuempel did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 58

Neither State Rep. DeWayne Burns nor Helen Kerwin responded to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 61

Keresa Richardson: “The Texas GOP has made banning Democrat chairs in the Texas House and Senate a legislative priority for 2023. I strongly agree with that priority and will only cast my vote for a Republican speaker who pledges to appoint Republicans to chairmanships. While Republicans control both chambers of the legislature, Speaker Dade Phelan appointed eight Democrat chairs in the last session, including the Youth Safety Committee, a crucial committee that serves as the clearinghouse for social conservative priorities. That is unacceptable, and Texas families deserve better.”

State Rep. Frederick Frazier did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 64 

Andy Hopper: “I support banning this practice with every fiber of my being. Continuing this practice ensures that the voices of Texas conservatives are silenced by a uniparty coalition of dems and squishy Republicans who will always choose a member from the far left wing of the Republican Caucus and repay dems for their fealty by awarding them powerful leadership positions that allow them to work against the will of Texans.”

State Rep. Lynn Stucky did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 91

David Lowe: “Unlike my opponent, I absolutely oppose allowing Democrats to chair committees with a Republican majority. So do the vast majority of Republican Primary voters.”

State Rep. Stephanie Klick did not respond to Texas Scorecard’s inquiry.

House District 97 

John McQueeny: “It’s become crystal clear that we can no longer reward democrats with chairmanships. There are too many critical issues that deserve conservative solutions and we can’t afford to allow Democrats to block our agenda or water down legislation. Texas is a conservative state and we need conservatives in charge. That’s what the voters expect and deserve.”

Cheryl Bean: “As a true conservative, I have always been against Democrat Chairs when the Republicans have the majority in the House. Having a significant number of Dem chairs in a Rep house evolved after the speaker gained the sole power to appoint all committee chairs. Rep speaker candidates began to offer committee chairs in exchange for a large block of Dem votes for speakership. The obvious result has been that conservative values have become compromised with Rep initiatives frequently not even making it to the floor for a vote. Although my opponent previously stated this is how the Texas House works and it is necessary to get bills passed, I believe that the five 2023 sessions prove that it is not effective for passing conservative legislation. I will vote against any Speaker that supports this practice.”

Amelia McKenzie

Amelia is a senior at Liberty University in Virginia. She is studying Digital Journalism and is currently a fellow with Texas Scorecard.