Patterson Eyes Party Caucus Chief Post
as Oliverson Seeks to Back Bullies Down

Capitol Inside
March 30, 2024

Speaker Dade Phelan faces a significant early test in a bid to save a leadership team that's shell-shocked and staggering with a vote that's shaping up for Monday on a new chair for the Texas House Republican Caucus and possible replacement of the group's second highest-ranking member as well.

The caucus would have an opening at the head of the table if State Rep. Craig Goldman of Fort Worth steps down as the current chairman in anticipation of a move to Washington D.C. as the party's nominee in the Congressional District 12 race. Goldman had kept his cards to the vest on the caucus post. But a flurry of developments on Saturday gave the impression that Goldman is set to give it up in time to clear the way for an election for the top caucus job.

State Rep. Tom Oliverson of Cypress fired the first shot when he said he'd faced pressure to resign as the Republican Caucus vice-chairman last week after launching a campaign for speaker in 2025.

"I refuse," Oliverson declared today on X. "I will not be bullied and I will continue to faithfully execute my duties as a caucus leader, for the benefit of all Republican Caucus members."

But Oliverson did not mention Phelan or identify anyone who tried to intimidate him into giving up the caucus post. But Oliverson will have an opportunity to confront Phelan and allies who thought they could push him around after he turned on them in an attempt to capitalize on the incumbent speaker's woes. Oliverson and others smelled blood when Phelan advanced to a runoff in his home district with a runner-up finish in the March primary election in a race that challenger David Covey led by 3 points.

State Rep. Jared Patterson of Frisco has emerged as the candidate who Phelan favors in the caucus chair competition that Goldman's departure would trigger. Oliverson could seek the chairmanship as well as a gauge of his initial support for speaker when the job will be up for grabs in the election at the start of the regular session in January.

Patterson scored a plum earlier this week when Phelan tapped him to chair a Select Committee on Protecting Texas Liquefied Natural Gas Exports. The special panel will give the Republicans another stage for bashing President Joe Biden and his administration. It isn't clear what Patterson's new committee hopes to accomplish beyond that.

But Patterson could see the caucus chair as a springboard to a speaker's race himself in the event that Phelan loses to Covey in overtime this spring in House District 21. A caucus chairmanship brawl between Patterson and Oliverson could be a sneak preview of the speaker's contest next year as a result.

more to come ...







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