The race for who will lead the Texas House of Representatives has officially kicked off, with State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) filing on Friday to challenge incumbent Speaker Dade Phelan.
Tinderholt says his concerns with Phelan stem from a lack of movement on the Republican Party’s legislative priorities:
Will the priority legislation of the Republican Party of Texas receive a vote on the Texas House floor? The truth is, we have no idea with our current speaker in control. In fact, most Republicans will tell you that they fully expect many important Republican policies to die at the hands of liberal committee chairs appointed by Speaker Phelan.
Over 80% of Texas GOP voters (Proposition 6, March 2022 primary elections) have asked the legislature to pass a rule ending the practice of handing over significant power to Democrats through committee chairmanships, a rule which Phelan has continued to oppose. In conversations with many members of the Texas House it was revealed that some of them haven’t had a one-on-one conversation with our current speaker since the end of the special session last year. It is clear that Texas Republicans need new leadership who will fight for our values. I am running for Speaker of the Texas House to ensure we do the will of our voters and make Texas an even better state.
An issue expected to be at the forefront of the campaign is the current practice of awarding chairmanships to Democrat members.
Ending the practice of putting Democrats in leadership positions is a priority for the Texas GOP, one that over 80 percent of Republican voters agreed upon.
Phelan, however, has been supportive of the practice. And when a rule change was proposed to ban giving chairmanships to the minority party last year, Tinderholt was one of only a handful of Republican members to vote for the measure.
Phelan was elected to the speakership with the support of Republicans and Democrats last January, with only two members—State Reps. Jeff Cason (R–Bedford) and Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City)—opposing him. Cason will not be returning after his district was redrawn to support a Democrat candidate, which he has argued was a form of retaliation for opposing the speaker.
Tinderholt, a combat veteran, was first elected to the Texas House in 2014.
The vote for speaker of the House will take place when the state Legislature convenes on January 10, 2023.