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Texas House speaker visits Texarkana ahead of primary election early voting

by Karl Richter | February 10, 2022 at 10:00 p.m. | Updated February 16, 2022 at 8:51 a.m.
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, at Texarkana Regional Airport in Texarkana, Arkansas, on Thursday. He called the primary season 'robust.' (Staff photo by Karl Richter)

TEXARKANA, Texas -- House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, was in Texarkana on Thursday and met up with the Gazette at the Texarkana Regional Airport to talk Texas politics.

He said a "robust primary cycle" is to be expected after redistricting every 10 years.

"The lines change, you have a new crop of individuals who think that they're the ones that should be serving that district," he said.

Even Gov. Greg Abbott has challengers in the primary.

"With respect to the governor, these challengers are in my opinion making this a referendum on his response to the pandemic, which was a very difficult time for all of us. The governor was making split decisions on a daily basis. He did an excellent job, in my opinion," Phelan said.

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For the Texarkana Gazette podcast “On the Line,” host Karl Richter has interviewed two candidates for their respective parties' nominations for Texas governor. Click play below to listen, and subscribe to “On the Line” — free — on any major podcasting app, including Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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Phelan said infrastructure improvements and property tax relief are already on his agenda for the 2023 session of the Legislature.

"You know, 350,000 people moved here (Texas) in 2020, even the middle of a global pandemic," he said. "So the fastest growing state of the last 10 years is Texas, and we need to get ahead of that, whether it's transportation, electricity, broadband, water, flood infrastructure, you name it."

Phelan is the 76th speaker of the Texas House and is serving his fourth term as state representative for District 21 in Southeast Texas.

Prior to serving as speaker, he served as chair of the House Committee on State Affairs, vice-chair of the Natural Resources Committee, and a member of the Calendars, Appropriations, and Elections committees, as well as the Select Committee on Ports, Innovation and Infrastructure.

Phelan was in town to attend a private fundraiser for state House Rep. Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston, who is seeking re-election after four consecutive terms representing Texas House District 1. The district includes Bowie, Lamar, Franklin and Red River counties.

VanDeaver and Phelan are both seeking re-election in November. VanDeaver has drawn a pair of Republican primary challengers, former Texas House Rep. George Lavender and Army veteran Ray Null, while Phelan is running unopposed. No one filed to run for the Democratic Party's nomination in either VanDeaver's or Phelan's district.

"It's my job as speaker to make certain good members return to the Legislature," Phelan said, adding that he and VanDeaver are connected by being "classmates" in their first House terms.

"You come in and learn the Legislature together, and you kind of bond through unique experiences that you share. So you know each other's families, you're all in it together to try to have each other's back," he said.

VanDeaver has served on the House Committee on Appropriations and the House Committee on Public Education, beginning with his first term in 2015.

Phelan is the 76th speaker of the Texas House and is serving his fourth term as state representative for District 21 in Southeast Texas.

Prior to serving as speaker, he served as chair of the House Committee on State Affairs, vice-chair of the Natural Resources Committee, and a member of the Calendars, Appropriations, and Elections committees, as well as the Select Committee on Ports, Innovation and Infrastructure.

Early voting in the primary election begins Monday and will continue through Feb. 25. Primary Election Day is March 1. Any necessary primary runoff elections will take place May 24, with early voting May 16-20.

Print Headline: Texas House speaker visits Texarkana ahead of primary election early voting

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