Local Republican officers censure Speaker Phelan in split vote
Last updated 7/18/2023 at 6:35pm
The executive committee of the Orange County Republican Party voted last week 14 to 6 to officially censure Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan, who also represents Orange County in District 21.
Though local party chair, Leo LaBauve opposed the censure, the majority opposed Phelan appointing Democrats to chair house committees. They also talked about him letting bills die and not adhering to the statewide party's conservative values.
Even though the censure vote was only for the executive committee, a number of local officials registered as Republicans attended to oppose the censure. They included County Judge John Gothia, who often touts how much Phelan has done for the county on a variety of projects, including major drainage improvements.
The resolution for the censure outline included Phelan allowing House Bill 20 to die in violation of the Texas Republican Party's legislative priority to secure the border and protect Texans. The bill would have established a Texas Border Protection Unit to arrest and return illegal aliens to Mexico.
Also, for ppointing committee members that are known to oppose school choice in violation of Texas Republicans setting a priority to protect "Parental Rights and Educational Freedom."
Also, for not supporting the state party's Principle No. 6 of supporting "Self-sufficient families, founded on the traditional marriage of a man and woman."
The U.S. Senate defines "censure" as a formal statement of disapproval.
Phelan's office released statements saying he welcomes a chance to talk to the people who voted for the censure and that he stands on his record.
Former Orange County Republican Chair David Covey of Mauriceville has announced he will challenge Phelan in the March 2024 Republican primary. Covey's father is on the local party executive committee and two other relatives hold office positions.
It is not the first time a local party has censured the county's state representative. More than twenty years ago, the Orange County Democratic Party, censured District 21 State Representative Ron Lewis, who was a Democrat. The censure was because of his work with then-Republican Governor Rick Perry.
Perry, who switched from being a Democrat, had shared an apartment with Lewis during their first year in the legislature. Lewis did not switch parties because at the time, a huge majority of Orange County was Democratic. It switched drastically in 2012 when most local candidates became Republican.