Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan is the number-one target of far-right Texas Republicans. Their chosen candidate has a correspondence degree from an unaccredited school and wants to secede from the Union.
Phelan has been a thorn in the side of far-right Texas Republicans who want total domination of state politics. He earned the ire of the powerful Defend Texas Liberty PAC, funded by Christian nationalist oil and gas tycoons Farris Wilks and Tim Dunn, by continuing the tradition of appointing opposition party members to committee chairs.
Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton also feel that Phelan was an impediment to passing school vouchers or failing to protect Paxton from his indictment last year. That adds up to a lot of very well-connected and powerful far-right Republicans who want to see Phelan beaten in the primary next month.
Their choice is David Covey, a former delegate from Texas to the Republican National Convention in 2016. He has been endorsed by both Paxton and former President Donald Trump. The latter is both the current frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nominee for president and under indictment for election interference.
Covey boasts about having a Juris Doctor, but maybe he shouldn’t. He received his degree from the Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy, a Fresno, California correspondence school. It is not an accredited, though it is registered with the State Bar of California. A search of the Texas Bar website does not show that David Covey has passed the bar in Texas.
Oak Brook appears to be a popular path to a law degree for far-right Republicans. A religious school, it promotes itself as relying on Biblical teachings in its curriculum. Its list of alumni include numerous Republican politicians, as well as the senior counsel for the anti-LGBT group Alliance Defending Freedom.
Covey has also signed the Texas First Pledge. The pledge is part of the Texas Nationalist Movement, an extreme right organization that promotes secession or “Texit” from the union. Their grievances are almost universally against climate change action, immigration, federal health policies, and gun control.
The pledge itself does overtly call for secession.
“If it is within the powers of my office, I will vote for legislation and resolutions to call for a vote on Texas reasserting its status as an independent nation in every term that I am elected until such a referendum is held,” it reads. “If a majority of the people of Texas vote in support of Texas reasserting its status as an independent nation, I pledge to work toward a fair and expedient separation of Texas from the federal government placing the interests of Texans first.”
The Texas Nationalist Movement has steadily grown more popular with far-right elected leaders. Abbott has attended town hall meetings sponsored by the group, and a plank about secession was added to the Republican Party’s platform in 2022. More than 100 state politicians have signed the pledge.