Phelan Chosen as Texas House Speaker


Dade Phelan | Image by Texas Farm Bureau

AUSTIN — The 88th Session of the Texas Legislature opened on Tuesday with legislators being sworn in and necessary business in the chambers being handled.

In the House of Representatives, the recently appointed Secretary of State Jane Nelson welcomed the members after the invocation had been given. “This is a new chapter in your service to the Texans you represent,” she explained, noting that there are 26 new members of the House.

“Congratulations, good luck, and let’s get started,” Nelson concluded.

The roll was called, and once a quorum was established, representatives took the oath of office, swearing to “faithfully execute the duties of the office [and] preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help me God.”

The first order of business of the Texas House after the oath was administered saw the adoption of the previous session’s House rules, with the exception of previous rules pertaining to COVID protocol. This adoption is temporary. New rules are expected to be debated and passed later this week.

The next significant issue was the election of a speaker of the House. Incumbent speaker Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) faced an intraparty challenge from Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), as reported by The Dallas Express.

Phelan was nominated by Rep. Cody Harris (R-Palestine), who claimed it was an “honor and privilege” to do so. Harris noted that Phelan would support Democratic chairs against the desire of the Texas Republican Party.

“I am certain he is the right man for the job,” Harris asserted.

Meanwhile, Tinderholt was nominated on the floor by Rep. Brian Slaton (R-Royse City), who accused Phelan of supporting Democrat priorities at the expense of Republican priorities.

“At some point, we need to realize we are settling for just enough wins to get reelected,” Slaton suggested. “It’s time for the Republicans to lead.”

“I’m grateful Representative Tinderholt has given us the opportunity to change the way this chamber operates,” Slaton concluded.

The Democrats declined to nominate someone for speaker, choosing to support Phelan for the position in order to secure the continuance of Democrat chairs.

Dallas County Rep. Angie Chen Button (R-Garland) then gave the seconding speech for Phelan.

“Leaders bring people together and look for solutions, they provide guidance and inspiration to those around them, leaders empower others. … Dade Phelan is that leader,” Button said.

Rep. Nate Schatzline (R-Tarrant County) seconded the nomination of Tinderholt, explaining that “I look at someone who I can trust to do the right thing at all times.”

Schatzline continued, “I believe the chairmanship should go with the majority party.”

Rep. Tracy King (D-Batesville) also gave a seconding speech for Phelan, suggesting that the incumbent speaker “gets it.”

Rep. John Lujan (R-San Antonio), offered another seconding speech for Phelan and claimed the incumbent was “a man of strong faith, values, and convictions.”

Rep. Toni Rose (D-Dallas) additionally gave a speech supporting Phelan for speaker.

Rep. Tinderholt then stood and gave a seconding speech for himself, outlining his reasons for challenging the incumbent. “The speaker of the Texas House is supposed to be a servant leader,” Tinderholt suggested. “Ask yourself, what do Texans need and deserve?’”

“I look forward to working with each of you to advance conservative legislation,” he continued. “God bless you all, and God bless Texas.”

Rep. Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville) then offered the final seconding speech for Phelan’s speakership, claiming, “Dade Phelan, gavel in hand, was a man true to his word.”

According to final numbers from the House clerk’s office, Phelan received a total of 145 votes, successfully securing his seat as speaker. Only Tinderholt, Slaton, and Schatzline voted against Phelan, while two members were shown to be present but did not vote.

Phelan was then sworn in and gave an acceptance speech. The next item the House will debate will be the new rules package to be adopted for the chamber.

Reaction to Phelan’s second selection as speaker was mixed among Republicans who traveled to the Capitol for the opening day of the session.

Kathy Ponce, representing Ellis County GOP and True Texas Project, told The Dallas Express on the ground, “I support the challenge. I support Tony Tinderholt, but I’m also realistic that Dade Phelan will get reelected.”

Tinderholt himself said, “This session, I will fight harder than ever to deliver conservative wins. To the grassroots I say, we are not defeated. We’re just getting started.”

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16 days ago

What a disappointment. This guy is a flipping democrat running as a Republican. Very disappointed with my representative for voting for this anti Republican! Dade Phelan Does not represent the Republican Party. Will see if he goes against the will of the people of Texas and the Republican Party

Reply to  Donald
16 days ago

He doesn’t have to go “against the will of the people and the Republican Party”; the Democrats appointed by him to chair committees will take care of that for him.

16 days ago

Only Tinderholt, Slaton, and Schatzline voted against Phelan, while two members were shown to be present but did not vote.”

Strike One, GOP Representatives.

Ronald Reason
Ronald Reason
16 days ago

Maybe voters didn’t realize that after the election, Tinderholt would hire a Christian nationalist, who called for public executions on Twitter in June 2022.  

“Christian nationalists believe, in general, that America is Christian, that the government should keep it that way, and that Trump was —and is— their best hope to accomplish that.”