The Chairmen of the Jefferson and Orange County Republican Parties have come out in support of Speaker Dade Phelan, citing a host of conservative measures that have passed under his leadership of the Texas House of Representatives. Jefferson and Orange counties are the two largest counties in Phelan’s district, House District 21, representing over 82% of the district’s population.
In a letter recently published in the Beaumont Enterprise entitled “Why I’m Proud to Endorse Conservative Dade Phelan for Re-Election,” Jefferson County Republican Party Chairman praised Phelan’s work on legislation important to Republican voters.
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“Dade passed constitutional carry and the trigger bill abortion ban that made Texas the most pro-life state in America. And this session, Dade passed the toughest border security package ever and banned the woke, radical agenda – ending transgender mutilation surgeries on minors and stopping the sexualization of school children, wrote Evans.
In addition to complimenting Phelan for his work “to secure the largest property tax cut in history,” Evans stated, “Southeast Texas has never had a stronger, more conservative voice than Dade Phelan.”
Evans also blasted the leadership of the Republican Party of Texas, which has purchased paid advertising critical of Phelan in recent months.
“Unfortunately, Matt Rinaldi, who is bankrolled by Midland special interests, who are desperate for a Speaker of their own, is spending his donors’ money falsely attacking Dade and House Republicans who support him while giving Democrats a free pass. It’s a disgrace that the state party has been hijacked by RINO special interests. I call on all true local Republicans to unite behind Dade Phelan and keep our strong voice leading the Texas House in Austin,” noted Evans.
Earlier this year, The Texas Voice reported that the Republican Party of Texas spent just $10,000 to grow and defend the Republican majority in the Texas House of Representatives. The Party has since spent far more than that amount on advertising critical of Phelan.
Leo LaBauve, the Chairman of the Orange County Republican Party, has also publicly commended Speaker Phelan’s conservative record. In a Facebook post last week, LaBauve stated, “The Speaker is the most conservative person to ever hold that position and has delivered on countless priorities of the Republican party and its platform: banning abortion, constitutional carry, securing the ballot box, and standing up to the radical left and the woke agenda.”
LaBauve’s comments were spurred by the actions of a group of precinct chairs in the Orange County Republican Party, who passed a resolution purporting to censure Phelan. LaBauve questioned the process used to pass the resolution, as well as the motivations behind it.
“I, as the Orange County Republican Chairman, do not agree with using the Censure process in this way, it should only be used in extreme circumstances when someone has failed the Republican Party. It should not be used to launch an opponent’s political campaign. I first received notice of this censure, not from one of the precinct chairs, but from David Covey, who is running against the Speaker. It passed the CEC with the bare minimum number of votes required. And the deciding vote was cast by David Covey’s father. This is not how these things are supposed to be done. I feel that when the Republican Party is arguing among ourselves the Democrats are winning,” said LaBauve. “The censure motion is not a serious one because no one can say that Dade Phelan has not been a conservative champion unless they have an ulterior motive.”
The resolution to censure Phelan was brought at a meeting where Covey was in attendance along with Shilo Platts, who had briefly launched a primary challenge to Phelan. Platts ended his campaign after The Texas Voice revealed that Plattshad been denied an insurance license in Utah on character grounds, including a criminal history, had been accused of engaging in deceptive business practices, and had recently “liked” many sexually explicit images on Twitter. Covey and Platts posed together for a photo at the meeting, which Platts posted on his Facebook page.
LaBauve’s post also included a response from Phelan where he aggressively deconstructs misleading claims made in the censure resolution.
In his response to the resolution, Phelan defended the longstanding practice in both the Texas House and Texas Senate of members of the minority party holding committee chairmanships.
“One of the roles of Speaker is to appoint committee chairs. For over fifty years now, members of the minority party in both the House and Senate have received committee chairmanships. In fact, the practice began when the Democrats controlled both chambers. Accordingly, each session we have served in our respective roles, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and I have appointed members of the minority party to be committee chairs. The Lt. Governor did so this past session as well. Now to be clear, I don’t think you should censure the Lt. Governor either.
Why has every Republican presiding officer of either chamber since reconstruction adopted this practice? Well, the first reason is that it takes 100 votes to amend the Texas Constitution. And as it turns out, many important legislative measures require the passage of a constitutional amendment. Without Democrat participation in these amendments, none of them would pass either chamber. Additionally, we need look no further than Washington DC to see what happens when both parties refuse to work with each other and have no incentive to do so. Important legislation dies, and the legislative process is reduced to backroom deals and procedural tricks,” wrote Phelan.
The resolution also criticized Phlelan for upholding a point of order on a border security bill he had designated as priority legislation. In his response, Phelan also explained how it was his duty as Speaker to rule fairly to uphold the rules of the Texas House.
Phelan stated, “It is the role of the Speaker to rule fairly on the hundreds of points of order that members raise during the legislative process. Regarding HB 20 specifically, a significant element of the bill was not included in the caption for the bill. These captions exist by rule and by law in order for the public to have a reasonable notice of what the bill does. I was very frustrated when this bill failed. The House led on the issue of border security this session. The House secured $5.1 billion in new funding for our efforts to secure our southern border. We labeled the Cartel as a terrorist organization, and we cracked down on human trafficking and fentanyl smuggling efforts. When it comes to HB 20 specifically, there was no companion bill even filed in the Senate for this legislation. If the Senate had joined us in making the bill a priority, there would have been another way to pass the measure when the initial bill ran into procedural problems. But to be clear, I don’t think you should censure them either.
Simply put, the rules are the rules, and it is my duty to enforce them. I will not play favorites even if it means that legislation important to me personally dies in the process. I look forward to passing this legislation next session. We’ll even let the bill start in the Senate, if that makes them feel better.”
The Texas House rules allow members to appeal the ruling of the Speaker if they believe he has ruled incorrectly. However, no such motion was made pursuant to Texas House rules on Phelan’s rulings during the legislative session.
In response to claims that he was insufficiently supportive of school choice, Phelan explained how the issue had advanced further in the Texas House during the legislative session than ever before and noted that there is likely to be another special session dealing with school choice later this year.
“The legislative process is just that: a process. It is far easier for a bill to die than for it to pass. And as conservatives, I think we can all agree that this situation is a good thing. The fewer laws the better. Negotiations are a natural part of the legislative process. On the issue of school choice, for years, there were no negotiations on this issue at all. My predecessor as Speaker labeled the issue of school choice (or as he put it, vouchers) dead on arrival. No school choice measure even received a hearing under his tenure. During this term, we went from there being no conversation in the House about school choice to a situation where members were negotiating with the Governor over the number of students who would be eligible for the program. The Governor made it clear that he did not think the plan considered by the Education Committee covered enough students and said he would veto the measure if it reached his desk. To be clear, I don’t think you should censure him either. There is likely to be another Special Session this fall where the legislature will take up this question again. Stay tuned,” wrote Phelan.
The resolution also claimed that Phelan was not supportive of pro-family principles, citing non-binding honorary resolutions with no legal effect that were considered in the House. In response, Phelan described the limits of his power as Speaker and cited several new laws passed by the Texas House protecting children and students.
Phelan remarked, “As Speaker, I do not have the power simply to strike a bill or resolution from the calendar. And as conservatives, you should be glad that I don’t have that kind of power. I am not sure what this censure article suggests that I should have done in these instances.
Here is what the House did do this session: Banned pornographic books in school libraries, protected kids from manipulation and sexualization by social media companies, banned gender mutilation surgeries of minors, banned drag show performances in front of children, and banned male athletes from competing in collegiate sports designated for women.”
Phelan’s response concluded by recapping a list of conservative victories, many of which have been part of the Republican platform for decades, that have been achieved during his tenure as Speaker.
“During my time as Speaker, we have passed constitutional carry, outlawed abortion in the state, strengthened the integrity of the ballot box, cracked down on rogue D.A.s, banned males from competing in female sports from kindergarten through college, banned CRT in our school classrooms, banned gender mutilation procedures, prohibited sexual performances-like drag shows-in front of our children, sent billions of dollars to the border to enhance our state operations, took pornography out of the school libraries, and just today, cut property taxes- by the largest amount in Texas history,” said Phelan.