Rep. Oliverson files for Speaker

Something like this was inevitable.

Rep. Tom Oliverson

State Rep. Tom Oliverson on Thursday announced a surprise challenge to Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, condemning his fellow Republican’s “dysfunctional” leadership as he fights for political survival in a May runoff.

Oliverson, an anesthesiologist from Cypress in his fourth term, pitched himself as the right man to realign the lower chamber with the priorities of the Republican party, which he said Phelan too often ignored. He criticized Phelan for appointing Democrats to chair some House committees and pledged to end the longstanding tradition if elected speaker.

“The Texas House is a collegial body, but there is a difference between collegiality and capitulation,” Oliverson said. “The majority must not be held captive by the will of the minority.”

Phelan has defended the practice, arguing that it allows the Legislature to function free of the gridlock seen in Congress. His defenders also say that Democrats — who chair eight of the House’s 34 standing committees — have not used their positions to hold up conservative priorities, most of which flow through committees overseen by Republicans.

Oliverson also slammed Phelan’s “secretive” handling of the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton, which he said was sprung on members with insufficient notice. It was Oliverson’s first major broadside against Phelan on the issue: the day before the impeachment vote, he told the Dallas Morning News that “nobody is above the law” and said “we need people of high moral and ethical standard serving in public office.”

Oliverson was the only House Republican who did not cast a vote on Paxton’s impeachment on corruption and bribery charges last year, sidestepping an issue that has driven a wedge between Phelan’s allies and the party’s right flank.

Phelan, who received no forewarning of Oliverson’s bid, said in a statement that his attention will remain on helping his House incumbents prevail in their runoffs and winning his own race.

“That’s the job of the Texas Speaker, and that’s where my focus is and will continue to be,” Phelan said.

I’m not going to get too invested in this. We’re long past the point where it matters in some significant way who the Speaker is, at least while we have the government we have or the worse version of it we’re going to get. Having Dems as committee chairs is more illusion than anything, as there’s no mechanism to get anything they prioritize passed in the Senate if it makes it through the House. Dade Phelan may survive his runoff – I don’t think he will, but stranger things have happened – but he won’t be Speaker again. Oliverson or some other Republican will beat him, it’s just a matter of who. The one thing that could affect the outcome in a positive direction is if Dems can pick up enough seats to collaborate with a non-voucher-pilled Republican to support as Speaker; I figure they’d have to net at least five seats, which is a lot to ask but not out of the question. Better a longshot than no shot, as I see it. Whatever the case, there will be a new Speaker next January. You had your time, Dade. The Republican Party hates you now. Go sit with that for awhile.

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One Response to Rep. Oliverson files for Speaker

  1. J says:

    If you are tired of GOP ugliness and want to see something pretty this weekend will be a good time to see some wildflowers. The north side of Buffalo Bayou is showing good blooms this year especially between Waugh and Shepherd. Earlier this month I did the White Oak Bayou trail and wasn’t much impressed, maybe it is better now. I was sorry to see an extra-wide mowed verge next to the bike trail that certainly wiped out a swath of trailside wildflowers.
    Memorial Park has been making some wildflower efforts, but not much to see so far. The ‘prairie’, which any child could tell you is just a large hole dug to get dirt to make the weird bridges, has some nice Indian Blanket showings on the western side but they are just past prime. Maybe in a year or so some flowers on the contrived hills but for now they are pretty barren. Given that there is not a nickel’s worth of shade on the bridges I wonder who will want to use them in the hot months.

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