Texas Speaker Phelan Wins Most Expensive House Race in State History

Texas Speaker Phelan Wins Most Expensive House Race in State History

Ryan Chandler, Monica Madden and John Thomas

55 minutes ago

(KXAN) – Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan won the GOP nomination in a closely contested primary for his southeast Texas district against David Covey, the challenger backed by former President Donald Trump, the Attorney General Ken Paxton and other conservatives who were hoping to oust Phelan from office.

Phelan won by less than two percentage points in a race separated by just 366 votes. The two campaigns, along with outside advocacy groups, spent about $8 million on advertising alone, making it the most expensive House seat race in Texas history.

“I am immensely grateful to the voters of Southeast Texas, who have spoken loud and clear: In Southeast Texas, we set our own course: our community is not for sale and our values ​​are not up for auction,” Phelan said Tuesday the night. . “The force of local politics still prevails and no external pressure can erode a foundation built on community trust and proven results.”

Despite a conservative record, Phelan came under attack within his own party over the past year after the House voted to impeach Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Covey pushed Phelan into a runoff election after the March primary and is part of a push by other conservatives aiming to reshape the Texas House of Representatives. It’s a shift that mirrors what’s happening in the Republican Party nationally, as the business-minded establishment faces increasing challenges from more “Trumpian”-style Republicans motivated more by conservative social issues.

Covey’s campaign quickly condemned Phelan’s victory as a “robbery,” accusing Phelan of courting Democrats to move into the Republican primary. They have not shown any evidence of that claim. Texas primaries are open, meaning any voter can participate in either party’s primary.

As speaker, Phelan appointed some Democrats to chair House committees, drawing condemnation from some fellow Republicans. Covey is endorsed by Paxton, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and former President Donald Trump.

“I think this has been an interesting pattern over the last year or so, maybe even longer in Texas, as the Texas Republican Party tries to figure out what kind of conservatism it wants to defend,” said Emily Sydnor, a politics professor at Southwestern University. she previously told KXAN.

The outcome of this runoff will have important implications for the balance of power in the State Capitol.

Documents filed May 21 with the Texas Ethics Commission showed Phelan has raised $3.44 million since Feb. 25. She has also spent $4 million trying to keep her job and has $1.56 million in cash on hand.

In the same period, Covey raised $1.68 million, spent $1.58 million, and has $226,000 left in his war chest.