By Bethany Blankley
State Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, says he has the votes to become the next Speaker of the Texas House.
“The race is over,” Phelan said at a recent news conference held in Austin. He announced that he has received the necessary support from a supermajority of Republicans in the state Republican Caucus as well as support from a number of Democrats in his bid for speaker. He published a list of his supporters on Twitter.
He has yet to make any public statements about his policy goals. The House will not vote on the next speaker until Jan. 12.
Republican state Reps. Trent Ashby of Lufkin, Geanie Morrison of Victoria, and Chris Paddie of Marshall also filed to run for speaker.
Texas House Republicans kept their majority and retained their current margins after Tuesday's election.
A political staffer-turned-politician, Phelan has represented the southeast Texas region in House District 21 since 2014. He previously chaired the powerful State Affairs Committee in the Texas House.
In response to his announcement, the Republican Party of Texas expressed its opposition to appointing Phelan as the next speaker.
“Texas will not allow the undermining of our Texas Republic,” Texas GOP Chairman Allen West said in a statement. “This is why the Republican Party of Texas is perplexed, and will not support, a potential Texas Speaker of the House who would seek affirmation from progressive socialist Democrats to attain that position. It is utterly absurd and demonstrably idiotic that any Republican would join with the Democrats to lead our Republican majority (83-67) Texas State House. Does anyone believe that Texas Democrats will support the Republican Party of Texas legislative priority of election integrity?”
He added, “Therefore, let me clearly state this: the Republican Party of Texas will not support, nor accept, State Rep. Dade Phelan as Speaker of the Texas House. Texas does not need a Republican political traitor, not at a time when the two diverging philosophies of governance are this lucid.”
The Texas GOP also announced in a statement about ongoing alleged instances of voter fraud occurring and being investigated by the Texas Attorney General’s Office and other law enforcement agencies. There are still unverified ballots in Tarrant County, which “continue to undermine the electoral integrity,” West said.
“Fraud and voter suppression should not be tolerated, and any discrepancies should be thoroughly investigated, especially with historic levels of mail-in ballots and ballot harvesting, which are fertile soil for fraud,” the Texas GOP said in a statement.
West said, “we have a ballot count of some 12,000 early ballots that had issues ongoing in Tarrant County. We must ensure that this process is done accurately and fairly. We will not have any instances of mysterious ballots appearing here in Texas.'”