Oliverson Announces House Speaker Candidacy

Rep. Tom Oliverson | Image by Maria Crane/The Texas Tribune

Texas Rep. Tom Oliverson announced his candidacy for speaker of the Texas House of Representatives during the 89th legislative session on Thursday morning.

Oliverson (R-Cypress) told reporters that he is aiming to replace current Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), who is currently set to take on challenger David Covey in a runoff election to represent House District 21.

During a press conference, Oliverson said that if selected as House speaker, he is prepared to bring change to the legislative process because it “has been dysfunctional for a long time,” and Texas voters can see the issues.

“[Voters] are asking for change, and I am going to stand up today and say the quiet part out loud and just say it is time for that change,” he said, per KXAN. 

“I am 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.

Oliverson criticized Phelan for appointing Democrats to be committee chairs, telling reporters that “there would be no Democratic chairs in the House” if he served as speaker, per KXAN.

“The Texas House is a collegial body, but there is a difference between collegiality and capitulation. The majority must not be held captive by the will of the minority, and I believe the majority party should hold all committee chairs,” he explained in a news release.

Oliverson currently chairs the Committee on House Insurance, a role he was appointed to by Phelan in 2021. He also serves on the Public Health and Health Care Reform committees and is the vice-chair of the House Republican Caucus.

While discussing his priorities if elected as speaker, Oliverson said he would fight to implement school choice in the Lone Star State.

“Anyone who was paying attention on Election Day saw that the failure to pass school choice had a significant impact on the new composition of the Texas House. In fact it was probably the biggest thing. This is an issue that’s time has come,” he said, as reported by KXAN. 

“I would say also related to that, we have some unfinished business with regards to funding public education that needs to be taken seriously as well. But those two issues must go hand-in-hand. I’m committed to working with the Senate and with the governor to make sure that happens, and that happens early.”

School choice was a priority for Gov. Greg Abbott during the 88th legislative session; however, the initiative did not pass, and Abbott chose to endorse the challengers of those who voted against it.

Endorsements from Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton resulted in 11 House Republican incumbents being unseated by challengers, with eight other incumbents scheduled to compete in runoff elections, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

One of these runoffs is between the current House speaker and a challenger, as Phelan prepares to take on Covey in a runoff election on May 28 after neither candidate secured more than 51% of the votes during the Republican primary on March 5.

Covey received 46.3% of the votes, Phelan received 43.2% of the votes, and challenger Alicia Davis received 10.4% of the votes.

Davis has announced that she is endorsing Covey in the runoff election, stating that it is “in our best interest” to vote for the challenger in this fight for “life, liberty, and property.”

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