Standing by himself in a conference room blocks from the Texas Capitol, Republican State Rep. Tom Oliverson of Cypress announced his candidacy for the speakership of the House. He decried the “secretive” impeachment push, the “dysfunction” of the House, and the failure of the chamber to advance school choice.

Most significantly, Oliverson said he would end the practice of appointing Democrats as chairs of House committees.

The Cypress Republican wasted no time in offering a harsh critique of the speakership of incumbent Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont).

“The dysfunction in the Texas House during 2023 highlights a need for change at the Capitol. Two weeks ago, Republican voters across Texas sent a strong and unmistakable signal that Texas needs a new paradigm. Ineffective leadership in the House brought about the first. The frustration of the voters underscores the second,” said Oliverson.

Oliverson is an anesthesiologist and entered the legislature in 2017, representing a large swath of northwest Harris County. During the most recent legislative session, Oliverson was the House sponsor of Senate Bill 14, which prohibits gender mutilative procedures from being performed on children in Texas. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott and took effect in December.

“The majority must not be held captive by the tyranny of the minority. I believe the majority party should hold all committee chairs,” said Oliverson. “The people elect us to come to Austin to address the issues that matter to their community. They do not send us here to attend a frat party.”

He explained that he had legislation killed by Democrat chairs over the last two legislative sessions. “It is one of those situations where you put somebody in a position of power, and then you’re surprised that they actually use the power that you gave them.”

Oliverson said the rules of the House have been “weaponized” against members and took aim at the outsized role the parliamentarians play in shaping policy. The current parliamentarian is Hugh Brady, a Democrat who worked in the Obama White House.

“I’m going to do what the people of this state have been asking the majority party in the Texas House to do for the better part of a decade, which is to lead as a majority,” Oliverson added.

As for the selection of the next speaker, Oliverson said he wants the House Republican Caucus to “follow their bylaws” and elect the GOP nominee there.

“I am fully committed to that process. If I am nominated, I will go to the floor in January and work to achieve 76 votes of Republican members. If the caucus nominates another member, I will work to ensure their election on the floor.” He added, “There needs to be a level of transparency because the conduct of the Texas House has lost the faith and confidence of the voters.”

Phelan’s office issued a statement in response to Oliverson’s announcement.

“As Speaker, I’m focused on winning these races, getting our team over the finish line and ensuring we start the session united and ready to deliver another banner conservative session for Texans. That’s the job of the Texas Speaker, and it’s where my focus is and will continue to be,” said Phelan.

Oliverson said he had not yet spoken with Phelan, any other House members, or Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Oliverson and Patrick have been neighbors and friends for many years.

The chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, Matt Rinaldi, praised Oliverson’s commitment to work within the caucus.

“If you aren’t willing to come out and take the positions Tom has on issues like appointing only Republican chairs and Republicans choosing the speaker, you aren’t qualified to be speaker,” said Rinaldi.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."

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