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Speaker Dade Phelan Appears Headed to Runoff

Early primary voting returns suggest that Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan is facing a tough challenge as he falls slightly behind GOP contender David Covey. Neither candidate has clinched the majority required to avoid a runoff. As of this writing, Phelan trails Covey 44.5 percent to 46 percent.

Phelan’s inability to secure a majority in the early voting indicates the precarious position he holds within the Republican Party. In the initial count from the three counties constituting House District 21, Phelan trails Covey by a slim margin. Covey, endorsed by prominent figures including Attorney General Ken Paxton, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, and former President Donald Trump, poses a significant threat to Phelan’s incumbency.

Anti-tax advocate Alicia Davis, although garnering only a fraction of votes thus far, may play a role in preventing either Phelan or Covey from reaching the 50% mark needed for an outright win.

The election has become a battleground for the influence of the far-right wing of the Republican Party, portraying Phelan as a party defector. Paxton, seeking retribution for Phelan’s support of his impeachment last year, actively campaigned for Covey in Beaumont.

Covey’s campaign, generously funded by Defend Texas Liberty, backed by conservative activist Tim Dunn, aims to position him as the genuine conservative alternative. Covey has criticized Phelan’s conservative credentials, emphasizing issues like border security, committee appointments, and aligning himself with the fringe Texas secession movement.

In response, Phelan has accused Covey of being a puppet of Paxton and other far-right interests. Phelan’s support base includes local Republican leaders in his district and former Gov. Rick Perry, who joined him on the campaign trail.

Despite facing criticism as a “Republican in name only,” Phelan highlights his conservative legislative accomplishments, including border security laws, permitless carry, and abortion restrictions. Locally, he emphasizes securing funding for priorities like Lamar University and flood control during his tenure.

While Phelan’s reelection path has been smoother in the past, this contest presents his most challenging reelection bid yet. Polling indicates his unpopularity among Republicans statewide. Despite public calls for his resignation from Paxton and Patrick, and clashes with Gov. Greg Abbott over policy, Phelan remains focused on convincing his district constituents of his merits.

Written by RA News staff.


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