The race for the next Speaker of the House is getting bigger, as Stephenville Republican Shelby Slawson has announced she will be seeking the position currently held by Dade Phelan.

In a letter of the House Republican Caucus, Slawson explained why she was running after previously supporting Phelan:

When we entered the 88th session, I was a supporter of the current Speaker, believing honestly in good faith that we would build productively on prior successes. I am extremely proud of many legislative wins we’ve had in the last two sessions. And yet I am deeply disappointed in the mismanagement by the current Speaker and his inner circle that continually overshadows our wins and puts us at odds with our grassroots supporters, other electeds, and our own members. Last session I gave too much benefit of the doubt to leadership’s power sharing with Democrats and then spent many frustrating hours trying to overcome the obstacles created by their empowering minority members at the expense of the majority. In recent weeks, the current Speaker has vowed to continue that power sharing practice over the objections of a large faction of members and an even larger, disapproving Republican party.


Following session, we were collectively put in the position of facing our voters and defending various indefensible leadership mistakes, living out Reagan’s adage that “if you’re explaining, you’re losing.” Some colleagues did, indeed, find themselves at the losing end of explanations in March and in May. In fact, a historic number of GOP incumbents, fifteen, lost their seats.

Slawson went on to say the chamber needed a leader that unites Republicans, rather than pitting them against their constituents.

“Our reform-minded members outnumber the status-quo supporters, and our ranks have grown with new energy this election cycle. We are collectively up to the task of decentralizing the power structure in the House and wholly changing the culture that throttles us instead of empowers us,” wrote Slawson.

A group of incumbent and incoming members have been calling for a Contract With Texas—a series of reforms designed to end Democrat influence over Texas House Leadership. Slawson told members she agreed with “nearly all of what has been circulated in contract and pledge form, and have readily discussed with members in each group the ideas I think are our ‘musts’ and which bear more deliberation.”

State Rep. Tom Oliverson (R–Cypress), who announced his candidacy for speaker in March, welcomed Slawson to the race.

“I welcome another reformer into the race for Speaker of the Texas House and applaud Shelby Slawson for her honest appraisal of the status quo, and optimism for the future,” Oliverson wrote in a post on X.

Phelan, meanwhile, has said he will run for re-election for speaker in 2025 following his narrow victory in the runoff election Tuesday.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens