State Rep. Joe Moody joins the Texas House speaker’s race

State Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, listens to public testimonies on his earlier parole bill on March 13, 2019.

State Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, listens to public testimony in 2019. He is the fourth Democrat to run for speaker of the Texas House.

Credit: Emree Weaver/The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, filed Tuesday for Texas House speaker, becoming the eighth candidate in what’s quickly become a crowded race.

Moody’s filing comes just hours before Election Day results will determine whether Republicans maintain a majority in the 150-member chamber or if Democrats flip the House for the first time in nearly two decades.

In a statement, Moody said he was running to change the “impenetrable and transactional” nature of the House.

“Democratic leadership should mean more than just painting the same old House blue,” he said. “It has to mean principles over power. It has to mean policy over politics. It has to mean people, period. I’m running to create lasting structural change.”

Moody joins fellow Democratic state Reps. Oscar Longoria of Mission, Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio and Senfronia Thompson of Houston in the race. On the Republican side, state Reps. Dade Phelan of Beaumont, Trent Ashby of Lufkin, Chris Paddie of Marshall and Geanie Morrison of Victoria are also running for the gavel.

Moody, who serves as speaker pro tempore, was first elected to the House in 2008 before losing his bid for a second term in 2010. Moody ran again in 2012 and since 2013 has served in the lower chamber.

Candidates are running to replace GOP House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, who will retire at the end of his term after a political scandal last year.

House members will vote on the next speaker on the first day of the 87th legislative session in January. The candidate with a majority of votes will win.

As the speaker’s race has escalated in recent days, various House members have rallied behind certain candidates. Thompson, the the longest-serving woman and Black person in the Texas Legislature’s history, was the first candidate to enter the race — and last week she picked up support from the House’s Harris County Democratic delegation and the Texas Legislative Black Caucus.

Morrison has picked up support from state Rep. John Cyrier — a Lockhart Republican who filed for speaker Thursday but withdrew from the race the next day — and state Rep. Phil King, a Weatherford Republican who chairs the powerful House Redistricting Committee.