Another Speaker contender

I suspect this list will get longer. Whether they all make it to the actual vote for Speaker is another story.

Rep. Shelby Slawson

State Rep. Shelby Slawson announced Thursday she is running for Texas House speaker, becoming the second member to challenge the chamber’s current leader, Dade Phelan, for control of the gavel.

Slawson, R-Stephenville, launched her candidacy in a letter to fellow House Republicans, telling them she began last year’s session as a supporter of Phelan, only to grow disillusioned by what she described as his “tight-fisted, top-down leadership.” She slammed Phelan’s inner circle as an “arrogant leadership cadre” and said they had run the House in a way that “continually overshadows our wins and puts us at odds with our grassroots supporters, other electeds, and our own members.”

“Our reform-minded members outnumber the status-quo supporters, and our ranks have grown with new energy this election cycle,” Slawson wrote. “We are collectively up to the task of decentralizing the power structure in the House and wholly changing the culture that throttles us instead of empowers us.”


Slawson, a 47-year-old attorney, is in her second term serving in the lower chamber. She joins state Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, who was the first to announce a challenge to Phelan. Oliverson, also a former Phelan ally, responded positively to Slawson’s announcement.

“I welcome another reformer into the race for Speaker of the Texas House and applaud [Slawson] for her honest appraisal of the status quo, and optimism for the future,” Oliverson posted on social media. “The movement is growing!”

Slawson ranks among the House’s most conservative members. She is perhaps best known as the lead sponsor of Texas’ 2021 law, known colloquially as the “heartbeat bill,” that banned most abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, before many patients know they are pregnant. It also opened the door for almost any private citizen to sue abortion providers.

The bill, enacted before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, banned the procedure once an ultrasound could detect what lawmakers defined as a fetal “heartbeat” — a term medical and legal experts say is misleading because embryos don’t possess a heart at that developmental stage.

Slawson was one of 23 House Republicans who voted against Paxton’s impeachment — distinguishing her from Oliverson, who missed the vote, and Phelan, who backed the effort. The move has caused Phelan more heartburn than any other over the last year, making him a top target of Paxton and his allies, including former President Donald Trump.

Slawson also is a proponent of private school vouchers, having voted against an amendment last fall that stripped a voucher program from a broader education funding bill. She is one of 20 House Republicans who last year voted against impeachment and for school vouchers; of the 17 who sought reelection, all won their primaries.

See here for some background. Look, all of these people suck. You would need very sophisticated instruments to be able to determine which one sucks the most. Perhaps you’ve heard me say this before, but there’s only one way out of this mess, and that’s to start winning more elections. This year would be a good time to get on that.

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