Phelan Faces Formidable Challenger in Primary

Speaker Dade Phelan | Image by Julius Shieh/The Texas Tribune

Texas House of Representatives Speaker Dade Phelan is set to take on two challengers in Tuesday’s Republican primary in one of his toughest re-election bids yet.

Rep. Phelan (R-Beaumont) has been campaigning against David Covey and Alicia Davis to represent House District 21, which includes all of Jasper and Orange counties and parts of Jefferson County, according to The Texan.

The state’s House speaker has come under scrutiny from members of the Republican party in Texas due to some of his actions taken during recent legislative sessions, as many members of the party have claimed that Phelan is a “Republican in name only” (RINO).

These claims led the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) State Executive Committee to pass a resolution to censure the speaker, alleging that he lacks “fidelity to Republican principles and priorities,” as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Phelan has dealt with well-known public officials from both the state and federal level endorsing his opponents, as Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that he is endorsing Covey in the race to represent HD 21.

“He’s dedicated much of his life to advancing the conservative principles of the Republican Party of Texas and will fight for those same principles in Austin. We need David Covey in the Texas House,” wrote the attorney general in a social media post.

Similarly, former President Donald Trump recently announced that he would endorse Covey as well, writing in a social media post that the challenger “will never let you down.”

“David is an America First Conservative who will Secure the Border, Restore Election Integrity, Protect our Families and Military/Vets, and Defend our under siege Second Amendment,” Trump wrote.

Covey has addressed concerns that he would be a first-time legislator, stating that he is the right choice since he and Phelan are on two different sides within the Republican party.

“One is the Karl Rove-Bush line that Phelan is part of, and then one is the Trump-[Ted] Cruz line that says don’t compromise, stand for our principles, pass our priorities. Me and Speaker Phelan are in separate camps,” said Covey, per The Texas Tribune.

Although many public officials have voiced opposition to re-electing Phelan to represent HD 21, the incumbent has raised significantly more campaign funds than his main challenger.

Phelan has reportedly raised more than $5.5 million and spent more than $7.25 million, while Covey has reportedly raised $859,000 and spent $555,000, as reported by The Texan.

Additionally, he has obtained an endorsement from former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who said that Phelan has performed the duties of speaker admirably.

“I’ve watched [Phelan] perform his duties as speaker. Listen, it’s a hard job, I get that, there’s a real balancing act. But [I] think our system works best where you are balanced,” he told The Texas Tribune.

Perry has also raised concerns about the fighting within the state’s Republican party, saying that it could result in major issues for the party if it continues.

“I think if we continue down this path, pointing our guns inside the tent, that is the definition of suicide,” he said, per The Texas Tribune.

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