Texas Speaker Opposed To AG Paxton Forced Into Runoff

One of the most powerful Texas Republicans faces a runoff election after drawing opposition from his colleagues — and former President Donald Trump. House Speaker Dade Phelen led the unsuccessful attempt to impeach influential Attorney General Ken Paxton in 2023.

Phelan struggled against David Covey, an oil and gas consultant who was backed by both Trump and Paxton. The GOP challenger took 46% of the vote to the Speaker’s 43%.

This means the two face a runoff in May. But this outcome would be highly unlikely had Phelan not decided to lock horns with the popular Paxton.

The AG, along with equally popular Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, fought to secure the state’s southern border even as the Biden White House threw it wide open.

He brought legal challenges over the lack of age verification on adult websites, fought mutilative “gender affirming” surgeries on minors and has a strong pro-life track record. All of these stands led to strong support and Paxton’s ability to withstand Phelan’s challenge.

The attorney general survived the test from within his own party ranks as he was acquitted on all impeachment charges in September. Paxton faced 16 charges and withstood every one, and he strongly believes the Biden administration played a role in his persecution.

His supporters note that many of the lawyers who worked toward his impeachment were from Biden’s Department of Justice.

Republicans were unimpressed with Phelan’s charges and voted to censure him last month. His party colleagues accused him of a “lack of fidelity to Republican principles and priorities.”

Phelan attempted to put a positive spin on being forced into a runoff despite his prominent position. In a statement to local media, he blamed “a tidal wave of outside influence and the relentless flood of special interest dollars pouring into House District 21” for his poor showing.

He said that despite these efforts, he survived “the most contentious and expensive primary in state history.”

Whether he will survive May’s runoff against a strong candidate who outpolled him this week is up in the air.

The date for the District 21 Texas runoff is Tuesday, May 28.