Republicans in the Texas House on Saturday voted 78-6 on Saturday in a secret ballot to nominate Speaker Dade Phelan to once again lead the chamber in the upcoming legislative session.
But while the move marks a milestone in the race to lead the House, Phelan’s challenger State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) says he is committed to continuing his challenge through a public vote of members in January.
The process of Republican legislators nominating a unified speaker candidate ahead of the official vote at the start of the session in January was adopted in 2017 in an attempt to prevent Republican speaker candidates, like then-Speaker Joe Straus, from courting Democrat support for the position.
In the years since, however, both former Speaker Dennis Bonnen and current Speaker Dade Phelan released lists containing Democrat supporters ahead of the caucus vote, making the exercise a formality.
Tinderholt says that’s why he will still be taking the vote to the floor, despite supporting the rule when it was adopted.
“Today’s vote, while unsurprising is disappointing,” said Tinderholt. “Because Dade Phelan has all the support of Democrats, Republicans fear the bully tactics of his team if they oppose him. That being said, I am undeterred in my fight to ensure we have strong conservative leadership this session and look forward to the floor vote on the first day of session.”
The vote for speaker will take place when the Legislature reconvenes on January 10.