Texas Speaker Race: Trump Endorsee Forces Phelan Into Challenging Runoff

In an ongoing political showdown in Texas, state House Speaker Dade Phelan faces an uphill battle as he advances to a runoff election against challenger David Covey, a staunch conservative endorsed by Attorney General Ken Paxton and President Donald Trump who has exposed the cracks in Phelan’s supposed conservative armor.

Tuesday night’s primary results were telling, with Covey leading 46% against Phelan’s 43%. Considering the substantial advantage that incumbents normally hold, the shift in voter sentiment is telling. The runoff points to a broader battle within the Republican Party between establishment politicians and America First patriots.

Phelan’s top problem with voters stems from his decision last year to lead the charge in the attempt to impeach and remove Paxton. As a tireless advocate for conservative causes such as border security and safeguarding children from progressive agendas, Paxton called Phelan’s involvement a “betrayal.” When Paxton stood his ground and fought back, leading to the dismissal of all the impeachment charges, he solidified his position with the solid base of traditionally conservative Texas voters.

Conversely, Covey has positioned himself as a true conservative, aligning with the grassroots rather than the political elite. His campaign, significantly backed by conservative groups, has resonated with voters tired of what they see as Phelan’s lukewarm conservatism. His critique of Phelan’s leadership and policy decisions has struck a chord, particularly his accusations of being too late on border security and compromising too much with Democrats.

Phelan’s counter-attacks, branding Covey as a novice pawn of far-right interests, seem to have fallen flat. His perceived disloyalty to conservative principles has overshadowed the Speaker’s attempt to tout his legislative accomplishments and local contributions. His label as a “Republican in name only” has proven damaging, amplified by endorsements from key Republican figures for Covey.

It’s a telling sign when high-profile conservatives and former allies turn their backs. Paxton’s endorsement of Covey, alongside Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, and Trump’s backing, signifies a clear message: loyalty to conservative principles matters. Paxton’s fight against the Biden administration and his success rate in legal battles underscores a commitment that Phelan’s actions have seemingly contradicted.

The May 28 runoff is more than just an election; it’s a referendum on what it means to be a Republican in Texas. As Phelan defends his record, the question remains whether his accomplishments can outweigh the perceived betrayals and whether voters see him as a genuine conservative or merely a facilitator of the status quo.

With both camps likely to increase spending and campaign efforts, the outcome will signal the direction Texas Republicans wish to take. For Phelan, it’s a fight for political survival. For Covey, it’s an opportunity to solidify the conservative resurgence within the party. As this political drama unfolds, the eyes of Texas and the nation remain fixed on this critical battle for the soul of the Republican Party.