Editors Note: This article has been updated to correct a misattributed quote.
Members of the Texas House overwhelmingly re-elected Republican Dade Phelan of Beaumont as Speaker on Tuesday—with 145 of the 150 members supporting him for the role.
The resounding message from Phelan’s nominators and his own acceptance speech was clear: Republicans will share power in the lower chamber with Democrats. Phelan’s supporters painted him as a “good” speaker who would prioritize cooperation and bipartisanship above all else.
State Rep. Cody Harris (R–Palestine) offered the nominating speech for Phelan, saying he was voting for his “integrity, honesty, and steady hand.” Harris emphasized that Phelan’s choice to award close to half of committee chairmanships to Democrats is the “perfect example of how a representative government is supposed to work.”
Despite Democrat committee chairmen shutting down conservative bills and causing headaches for conservatives in the Legislature, Phelan’s other nominators agreed on his vision for the Texas House.
State Reps. John Lujan (R–San Antonio), Toni Rose (D–Dallas), and Shelby Slawson (R–Stephenville) offered seconding speeches that highlighted Phelan’s record of reaching across the aisle and his desire for cooperation within the chamber.
Meanwhile, State Rep. Tracy King (D–Uvalde) said he was supporting Phelan because “Phelan gets it.” King also pointed out that the action by Phelan that had most impressed him was a visit to Uvalde last week to meet with the families of last May’s school shooting victims.
Tuesday’s vote was contested, with State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) nominating State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) for the top leadership post. The nomination was seconded by freshman State Rep. Nate Schatzline (R–Fort Worth). Slaton and Tinderholt criticized Phelan for failing to punish Democrats when they fled to Washington D.C. last session in an effort to thwart Republican priorities. The pair also emphasized the need for Republicans to pass the Republican Party of Texas’ legislative priorities.
According to Phelan, the chamber’s work “will be rooted in the most fundamental and necessary thing: the Texas House rules.” The debate over the House rules is expected to take place later this week. One key debate will be whether to ban the appointment of Democrats to committee chairmanships.