AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Rep. Dade Phelan announced Tuesday that be believes he has enough support to become the next Speaker of the Texas House.
“The race is over,” he said during a press conference at the Texas Capitol. He added that he has a “supermajority” from the Republican caucus as well as broad support from Democrats, and released the names of lawmakers who support him.
The Republican served as Chair of the House Committee on State Affairs and has also been vice-chair of the Natural Resources Committee, and a member of the Calendars Committee, Appropriations Committee, Elections Committee and the Select Committee on Ports, Innovation and Infrastructure.
Each time a new legislature convenes, the representatives must choose a member to serve as speaker. The speaker is the presiding officer of the House of Representatives and helps maintain order during debates on the House floor. The speaker must sign all bills and join resolutions the House passes, and he or she also has a vote. Lawmakers can give the speaker other duties when they adopt House Rules of Procedure every legislature, as well, including having that person appoint people to committees and designate leaders of those committees. The speaker also sends legislation to committees for review.
A number of other lawmakers have indicated they also intend to run for House Speaker. They include Democrats Senfronia Thompson, Joe Moody, Oscar Longoria and Trey Martinez-Fischer and Republicans Trent Ashby, Geanie Morrison, John Cyrier and Chris Paddie. That field has whittled down to Morrison and Martinez-Fischer, with the others consolidating their support around Phelan and Morrison
While the Democrats have a difficult path to speaker-ship, Ashby, dropped his bid for Speaker to support Morrison Wednesday evening.
“After further deliberations with my colleagues, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for Speaker of the Texas House and will be supporting Geanie Morrison in her bid to become the first woman ever to preside over the Texas House of Representatives,” Ashby wrote in a statement Wednesday evening. “While I’ve been truly humbled by the overwhelming support of my friends and colleagues, I believe that Geanie is uniquely equipped to provide the leadership we need to truly heal from the division and strife that exists in our chamber still today.”
“In light of her decision to continue her candidacy for Speaker, I urge the Caucus to schedule a caucus meeting, as prescribed by our bylaws, to afford every Republican member an equal, transparent, and fair opportunity to select the next Speaker,” Ashby stated.
The previous speaker, Dennis Bonnen, announced last October he would not seek re-election after a secret recording was released indicating he would give media credentials and floor access to a conservative non-profit group if they target 10 moderate Republicans in the primaries.