Speaker Dade Phelan does hook `em horns with fellow UT alum Matthew McConaughey on Texas House floor. Dade Phelan Facebook Photo


Bonnen Brothers Keep Control of House
in Family with New Speaker as Key Ally


Top House Leaders Were Ready to Pounce

Texas Senate Power Rankings


Capitol Inside
April 29, 2021

The prevailing sentiment inside the Austin beltway so far this year has been that Republican Dennis Bonnen has been running the Texas House vicariously though his successor since stepping down as speaker more than three months ago.

There's even been talk about the possibility that Bonnen could be directing the lower chamber from the shadows again during the next regular session in 2023 with his brother as current GOP Speaker Dade Phelan's potential replacement.

Republican State Rep. Greg Bonnen of Friendswood already is one step away from the throne as the House's most powerful House member who isn't the speaker in the 2021 regular session in his role as the chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Any moves that the Bonnens make in the meantime must go through Phelan - a Beaumont Republican who's appeared to have a solid grip on the gavel since the younger of the two brothers passed it to him in January.

Bonnen the chief budget writer is ranked first on the Capitol Inside Texas Legislature Power Ranking for the west wing of the statehouse in 2021. Bonnen was 20th on the House power chart two years ago when his sibling had been leading the chamber during his only term as speaker.


Ben Leman
Iola Republican
Calendars, Land & Resource Management Vice Chair, Energy Resources


Cody Harris
Palestine Republican
Calendars, National Resources Vice Chair, Transportation


Erin Zwiener
Driftwood Democrat
Appropriations Article III Subcommittee Vice Chair, Public Health, Administration


Alex Dominguez
Brownsville Democrat
Appropriations, Environmental Regulation and Local Calender Vice Chair


James Talarico
Round Rock Democrat
Calendars, Public Education, Juvenile Justice & Family Issues


Julie Johnson
Dallas Democrat
Appropriations Article II Subcommittee, Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence


Shelby Slawson
Stephenville Republican
Calendars, State Affairs, Pensions Investments & Financial Services


Ann Johnson
Houston Democrat
Appropriations Article II and Federal Subcommittees, Criminal Jurisprudence


Jacey Jetton
Sugar Land Republican
Elections, Public Health, Redistricting


Gary Gates
Rosenberg Republican
Appropriations Article II Subcommittee,
Urban Affairs


Jake Ellzey
Midlothian Republican
Licensing & Administrative Procedures, Local Calendars, Energy Resources


Eddie Morales
Eagle Pass Democrat
Administration, Defense & Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security & Public Safety




Some have thought they could see Bonnen the former legislator's fingerprints all over the Phelan debut leadership team after having a huge part in the new speaker's winning race for the post last fall. GOP State Rep. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock as evidence is rated second in terms of clout in the House this year just like he'd been in 2019. Burrows actually has more muscle than he did two years ago after a promotion from Phelan from the Ways and Means Committee chairmanship to the top job on the Calendars Committee this time around.

State Rep. Tom Oliverson of Cypress is third member of the Phelan power triumvirate as a third-term lawmaker who'd been ranked as the sophomore representative with the most sway in the House in 2019. Oliverson is a physician who's had the industry that he regulates on its heels in his first session as the Insurance Committee chairman. Oliverson is ranked as the third most powerful lawmaker on the west side of the rotunda this year.

Republican State Reps. Will Metcalf of Conroe, Craig Goldman of Fort Worth and Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi are ranked fourth, fifth and sixth on the House power list in 2021 as the chairmen of the Administration Committee, the Energy Resources Committee and Redistricting Committee respectively.

A trio of Democrats in State Reps. Senfronia Thompson of Houston, Mary González of Clint and Joe Moody of El Paso rounding out the top 10 for clout in the House in the session on the verge of its final month.

State Rep. Armando Walle of Houston and González received substantial power boosts with their appointment by Phelan this week to the conference committee that will negotiate a new state budget with their Senate counterparts. The speaker's selection of GOP State Reps. Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake and Terry Wilson of Granite Shoals as budget conferees sent their stock soaring as well. Bonnen is leading the House negotiators on the bargaining team for the lower chamber in the quest for a compromise on Senate Bill 1.

Phelan's inclusion of two Hispanic Democrats means that the House will be represented in the budget talks by a group that's dramatically more reflective of the entire state than the all-white Republican group that Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick named to the conference committeee on the spending plan.

A seat at the conference committee on SB 1 is worth substantially more this year at a session where the passage of a state budget may end up being the Legislature's only significant achievement.

Thompson - the House's second longest serving member behind former Speaker Tom Craddick - has been a titan under the three most recent Republicans who've been the speaker since the GOP seized the monopoly in 2003 for the first time since Reconstruction. Thompson has no competition when it comes to commanding respect that transcends party lines. She's chaired the Public Health Committee in the Bonnen House two years ago before Phelan put her in charge of the Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee that's handling legislation dealing with the legalization of casinos and marijuana in 2021.

González has rocketed 44 spots up the chart as the Texas representative who's ranked 9th this year in a new role as the vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee on which he also leads a subcommittee on general government, the judiciary and criminal justice. González serves on the Public Education Committee as well.

Moody has vaulted from 23rd in 2019 to 10th on the House power chart this year as the speaker pro tem who doubles as the vice-chairman of the Calendars Committee that controls the flow of legislation to the floor. Moody appeared to be Bonnen the former speaker's favorite Democrat during the regular session in 2019. Dennis Bonnen had all but endorsed Moody for speaker in the event of a Democratic takeover at the polls last fall.

Democrats who hold 67 of the House's 150 seats have 20 of their own ranked among the 50 state representatives who are wielding the most sway in 2021 based in large part on Phelan's first round of committee assignments in the leadership post. Eighteen House Democrats had been ranked in the top 50 in 2019 when Bonnen was swinging the gavel. Four of the six highest ranked sophomore representatives are Democrats. House Democrats account for two of six spots on the power chart for freshmen in 2021.

Metcalf, who's one of Phelan's closest personal friends, has soared from 45th to 5th. GOP State Reps. James Frank of Wichita Falls, Brooks Landgraf of Odessa and Jim Murphy of Houston have taken significant leaps into the top 20 for the first time in the House power count. Murphy, the chairman of the Higher Education Committee, gets an added boost as the House GOP Caucus chair for the first time this year.

Grand Prairie State Rep. Chris Turner - the chairman of the Democratic Caucus in the lower chamber - chaired the higher education panel under Bonnen in 2019 before Phelan shifted him to the lead role on the Business & Industry Committee this time around. The Democrats' caucus chief and his GOP counterpart Murphy are 16th and 17th respectively in 2021.

GOP State Rep. Briscoe Cain of Deer Park has taken the most spectacular leap as the House member who's ranked 13th in clout in 2021 as the Elections Committee chairman who's sponsoring a landmark package of new voting restrictions on which some Republicans are pinning their hopes for survival.

Cain had owned the end of the bench in the House as a tea party renegade and reject before remaking himself in more of a Bonnen family establishment conservative image. House members on both sides of the aisle watched in wonder last year when Cain jetted to Philidelphia on the day after the November vote to join the team of lawyers who Donald Trump had been assembling for his epic challenge of Democratic President Joe Biden's victory in the most secure election in United States history.



Texas House Committee Power Rankings
with Committee Chairs for 2021 Session


1. Appropriations - Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood
Vice Chair - Mary González, D-Clint

2. Calendars - Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock

3. State Affairs - Chris Paddie, R-Marshall

4. Redistricting - Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi

5. Administration - Will Metcalf, R-Conroe

6. Energy Resources - Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth

7. Ways & Means - Morgan Meyer, R-Dallas

8. Public Education - Harold Dutton, D-Houston

9. Licensing & Administrative Procedures - Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston

10. Local & Consent Calendars - Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth

11. Elections - Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park

12. Insurance - Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress

13. Environmental Regulation - Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa

14. Higher Education - Jim Murphy, R-Houston

15. Transportation - Terry Canales, D-Edinburg

16. Natural Resources - Tracy King, D-Uvalde

17. Human Services - James Frank,, R-Wichita Falls

18. Public Health - Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth

19. Land & Resource Management - Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont

20. Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence - Jeff Leach, R-Allen





Greg Bonnen
Friendswood Republican


Dustin Burrows
Lubbock Republican


Tom Oliverson
Cypress Republican


Chris Paddie
Marshall Republican


Will Metcalf
Conroe Republican


Craig Goldman
Fort Worth Republican


Todd Hunter
Corpus Christi Republican


Senfronia Thompson
Houston Democrat


Mary González
Clint Democrat


Joe Moody
El Paso Democrat


Morgan Meyer
Dallas Republican


Tom Craddick
Midland Republican


Briscoe Cain
Deer Park Republican


Armando Walle
Houston Democrat


Terry Canales
Edinburg Democrat


Tracy King
Uvalde Democrat


Harold Dutton
Houston Democrat


Giovanni Capriglione
Southlake Republican


Terry Wilson
Granite Shoals Republican


Jim Murphy
Houston Republican


Chris Turner
Grand Prairie Democrat


James Frank
Wichita Falls Republican


Brooks Landgraf
Odessa Republican


Stephanie Klick
Fort Worth Republican


Jeff Leach
Allen Republican


Charlie Geren
Fort Worth Republican


Nicole Collier
Fort Worth Democrat


Rafael Anchia
Dallas Democrat


DeWayne Burns
Cleburne Republican


Ken King
Canadian Republican


Andrew Murr
Junction Republican


James White
Hillister Republican


Matt Krause
Fort Worth Republican


Toni Rose
Dallas Democrat


Ana Hernandez
Houston Democrat


Angie Chen Button
Garland Republican


Garnet Coleman
Houston Democrat


Joe Deshotel
Beaumont Democrat


Richard Peña Raymond
Laredo Democrat


Victoria Neave
Dallas Democrat


Ryan Guillen
Rio Grande City Democrat


Ina Minjarez
San Antonio Democrat


Donna Howard
Austin Democrat


Philip Cortez
San Antonio Democrat


Geanie Morrison
Victoria Republican


Cecil Bell
Magnolia Republican


Cole Hefner
Mount Pleasant Republican


Ed Thompson
Pearland Republican


Justin Holland
Heath Republican


Steve Toth
The Woodlands





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