State Rep. Shelby Slawson Launches Run for Speaker, Becoming Second Challenger to Phelan

State Rep. Shelby Slawson
Shelby Slawson | Image by Shelby Slawson for Texas/Facebookfor Texas

Texas Rep. Shelby Slawson is now the second candidate to announce a run against Speaker Dade Phelan for the Texas House Speakership.

Slawson (R-Stephenville) represents House District 59, which comprises Erath, Coryell, Hamilton, and Hood counties. Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress), who represents HD 130 in northwest Harris County, announced in March his intent to run for Speaker of the Texas House.

“When I first ran to serve the people of Central Texas, the premise was simple: our deeply red district not only could do so much better with new representation, but if we were to do our part to hold Texas as liberty’s last line of defense, we must do better,” Slawson wrote in an open letter to her Republican House colleagues on Thursday.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Phelan (R-Beaumont) defeated Trump-endorsed candidate David Covey in the Republican runoff election on May 28 to represent District 21. Issues at the center of the Republican primary race for House District 21 ranged from the Paxton impeachment to school choice.

Covey described Phelan as an “Austin swamp creature” supported by Democrats.

“The Texas history books will undoubtedly record how a frightened Speaker, desperate to save his political future, mobilized the very party he claims to oppose. This betrayal of his own principles and supporters is a stain that will never be washed away, Covey said in a statement following the runoff election, per the Austin American-Statesman.

In her letter, Slawson argued that the House’s operation must change, alleging that it operated only to protect Phelan.

“Last year, the caucus was operated for speaker-protection instead of member-empowerment. That must change so that we have a forum for frank — even if messy and difficult — discussion of critically important issues we face together. Toward that goal, the recipients of this correspondence are all returning Republican caucus members and our expected new caucus members, and no one else,” Slawson wrote.

“Regardless of who our next speaker is, what we all must agree upon is that we cannot return to the same beleaguered battles under the same defiant general and expect anything better than more failure, frustration, and electoral carnage. For the 89th [Legislature], I will sooner claim a position on the bench or in the proverbial wilderness than be complicit or actively perpetuate the current cavalier regime.”

The Dallas Express contacted Slawson and Phelan for comment but did not receive a response by the publication deadline.

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