KTRH Local Houston and Texas News

KTRH Local Houston and Texas News

KTRH-AM covering local news from Houston and across Texas.


Texas House Speaker district one of more intriguing races in 2024

The year 2024 is bringing with it all kinds of hoopla and events. There is the Summer Olympics, it is a Leap Year, but most importantly, the 2024 election cycle both for President in November, and the Texas primaries coming up in March. In the Texas House, there will be 150 seats up for grabs, which means we might see some seismic shifts in Austin.

Of those 150 races, only about a dozen or so have major implications on the landscape. But one of those stands out above the rest. That would be the race in House Speaker Dade Phelan's district, which he has held since 2015.

Brandon Waltens of Texas Scorecard says this race is a bit unusual, because the House Speaker never usually has a true challenge.

"That is different this year...his polling in his district is underwater, his popularity is underwater, and he has two candidates running against him," he says. "One of them has the endorsement of people like Attorney General Ken Paxton...it looks like he is going to have an actual race and might be in trouble."

It is not just in his district where the popularity has faltered either. Plenty of House members have reportedly lost their allegiance and trust in Phelan after the Paxton impeachment trial.

Then, there is his failing in getting school choice passed in the House, which has ignited a scorched earth campaign by Governor Greg Abbott.

"Abbott, who is normally quiet when it comes to primaries...he is out there endorsing against these incumbent Republicans," he says. "He has endorsed every incumbent who voted for it and endorsed against anyone who voted against school choice...clearly this has been his number one issue."

School choice was the biggest blockbuster on the menu for the Legislature, as Governor Abbott called multiple special sessions in efforts to get it passed. The $7 billion dollar bill ultimately died in Phelan's house, after members gutted school vouchers from it, and punted it back to committee.

All of those extra sessions kept lawmakers in session virtually the entire year, which creates problems for Phelan, and others, as a whole.

"A lot of these races are starting essentially right now...leaving not much time. Primary is March 5th," Waltens says. "We will see some of these candidates have to get bold and loud, with a short runway to do it...which might lead to some explosive races."

He adds that the polling, while must be taken with a grain of salt, puts him at negative odds, and there is good chance he loses in his race. Phelan represents Texas' 21st district near the Texas-Louisiana border.

Photo: Getty Images

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