In a closed meeting earlier this month, the Texas House Republican Caucus voted to endorse State Rep. Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont) as speaker of the House when the next legislative session begins in January. Seventy-eight members supported Phelan, while six voted for his challenger, State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington).

Phelan was nominated by State Rep. Jeff Leach (R–Allen), and State Rep. Charlie Geren (R–Fort Worth) seconded the motion. Both members gave speeches lauding Phelan’s accomplishments. Tinderholt was nominated by State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City).

Leach, who was elected to office in 2012 by courting the support of tea party conservatives, has been accused of being a “sell out,” as Phelan has received poor marks from several conservative organizations.

“It’s pretty disingenuous to not tell your followers that you receive large donations from Dade Phelan,” said one Texan.

Phelan has been labeled a RINO for opposing conservative priorities. To name just a few examples, he has awarded Democrats with committee chairmanships, lobbied for carveouts to Texas’ abortion ban, dismissed concerns about cheating in the 2020 election, and downplayed property tax relief.

Leach, however, claimed that Phelan is “the most conservative Speaker in TX history.”

“Anyone suggesting otherwise isn’t simply being disingenuous or misleading,” Leach insisted. “To be clear: they are flat out lying to the people of Texas.”

Some Texans were not impressed with Leach’s tweet.

“Compared to a long line of blue dog Democrats & compromising Republicans? Absolutely he is!” one commenter sarcastically acknowledged in reply to his claim that Phelan “is the most conservative Speaker in TX history.”

“Sir, conservatives don’t let Democrats chair committees & the fact that Geren gave the seconding speech also tells you all you need to know…” another user argued.

“Ah yes, gaslighting using ‘disingenuous’… The tactics of the liberal left. Phelan is the worst and you’re a sell out,” replied another.

“We are not stupid,” another tweeted. “We see the record and we know what we chose to make priority in the platform. Don’t pee down my back and tell me it’s raining.”

“You’re a joke and the real liar,” retorted another.

Soli Rice

A journalist for Texas Scorecard, Soli is a new Texan with a passion for politics. She's excited to hone her writing skills and help spread truth to Texans.