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Texas State Speaker Dade Phelan Relies on Dems, Big Money for Survival

John Gizzi By Thursday, 30 May 2024 09:23 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

After what is reported to be the most expensive state legislative race U.S. history, Texas House GOP Speaker Dade Phelan managed to eke out renomination Wednesday morning in the run-off in Texas' 21st District (Southeast Texas).

Final results show Phelan defeating David Covey, a onetime top aide to conservative firebrand former Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, by about 366 votes out of more than 25,000 cast. Between the two candidates and independent expenditures deployed by outside advocacy groups, an estimated $16 million was spent on the contest — estimated to be the most ever spent on a race for a state legislative seat anywhere.

Much of the state and national attention focused on the race was due to Phelan's opposition to fellow Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's plan for statewide application of school vouchers as an alternative to public schools. But even with the speaker surviving, Abbott proclaimed Wednesday the "House has enough votes to pass school choice."

With six out of eight Republican representatives who opposed the governor's voucher plan going down in run-offs Tuesday and nine others being unseated by Abbott-backed voucher supporters in primaries earlier this year, Abbott's confidence in enacting the nation's most far-reaching school choice agenda appears to be justified.

"Phelan stood in the way, but now Phelan does not have the votes to stop Abbott," Austin attorney and longtime Lone Star State conservative activist Howard Hickman told Newsmax.

The Texas House speaker wields considerable power notably naming all committee chairs. Assuming Phelan secures a third term in the speaker's chair, he will do his utmost to use the rules of the House to thwart Abbott's agenda on vouchers. Among those who worked hard to secure Phelan's renomination was the Texas State Teachers Association, vehement foes of school choice.

Phelan also came under fire as the architect of the impeachment last year of State Attorney General Ken Paxton, a popular figure among Texas conservatives. Paxton, who survived impeachment in the state senate, was a vigorous supporter of Covey and said the charges against him were politically motivated.

"Steal" was how Covey's campaign spokesman characterized his candidate's defeat. With groups such as the Teachers Association in his corner and his record of naming Democrats to chair committees, Phelan managed to win renomination through Democrat cross-over votes, the Covey camp warned.

"Had Texas had closed primaries instead of open primaries that permit anyone to vote regardless of party, Covey would have clobbered Phelan by 2-to-1," one GOP state representative told us.

Led by Paxton, conservatives are now likely to push the state legislature to create closed primaries and voter registration by party for the first time in Texas history.

In the past, cross-over votes provided a boost to conservatives in Republican primaries. In 1976, for example, Ronald Reagan swept every GOP convention delegate in the state over then-President Gerald Ford in large part due to conservative Democrats coming into the primary to support him.

But since then, most of those Reagan Democrats have become Republicans and the remaining Democrats increasingly back liberal candidates.

Mary Barnes, Newsmax intern and a senior at Southern Methodist University in Texas, contributed to this report.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


John-Gizzi
After what is reported to be the most expensive state legislative race U.S. history, Texas House GOP Speaker Dade Phelan managed to eke out renomination Wednesday morning in the run-off in Texas' 21st District (Southeast Texas).
texas, house, speaker, dade phelan, democrats, never trump, gop, establishment, drain the swamp
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2024-23-30
Thursday, 30 May 2024 09:23 AM
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