Local state representative embroiled in Republican 'civil war'
Last updated 10/10/2023 at 6:45pm
Orange County could be in a national political spotlight as its state representative, Dade Phelan, who serves as Texas speaker of the house, is becoming enbroiled in what is being described as an "intensifying civil war" within the state GOP.
At the end of September, the Texas Republican Party called on Phelan to resign. Also, the Orange County Republican Party censured Phelan for his work with Democrats to impeach State Attorney General Ken Paxton.
David Covey of Mauriceville, a former Orange County Republican party chair who once worked for U.S. Representative Steve Stockman, has announced he is running against Phelan in the March primary.
Political scientists are referring to Phelan as a "moderate" Republican compared to the "far right conservatives" in the state party.
The state brouhaha continued on Monday after Phelan demanded Lt. Governor Dan Patrick reject a $3 million campaign donation from the Defend Texas Liberty PAC (political action group). Phelan's demand came when the online publication Texas Tribune reported the head of Defend Texas Liberty had met in his office with Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist and antisemite, for nine hours.
"This [is] not just a casual misstep," Phelan said in a statement. "It's indicative of the moral, political rot that has been festering in a certain segment of our party for far too long. Anti-Semitism, bigotry and Hitler apologists should find no sanctuary in the Republican Party. Period. We cannot – and must not – tolerate the tacit endorsement of such vile ideologies."
Phelan said Fuentes is a Nazi sympathizer who quotes Hitler and supports a "holy war" against Jews. He is asking not only Patrick, but also other Republicans who have received Defend Texas Liberty donations and loans to give the money for charity.
Patrick quickly accused Phelan of taking advantage of the Hamas raid on Israel, which has started a war in the Jewish state. The lieutenant governor also condemned Nick Fuentes and his views. Patrick is supporting Israel.
The Texas Tribune reported "Acting on a tip, a Tribune reporter and photographer on Friday observed Fuentes and others - including Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted of homicide after killing two men at a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020 - enter the one-story office of Pale Horse Strategies outside of Fort Worth. Pale Horse Strategies is a consulting firm owned by Stickland to advise far-right candidates; it has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Defend Texas Liberty PAC, where he also serves as president."
Phelan has come under attack from many Republicans after the Texas House of Representatives, which he leads, voted to impeach State Attorney General Ken Paxton on several charges. Paxton wanted the state to pay $3.3 million for a whistle-blower lawsuit brought against him by former aides of bribery and abuse of office.
A majority of Republicans in the house voted with Democrats to impeach Paxton. But later, in a trial before the Texas Senate, led by Lt. Governor Patrick, the impeachment failed with only two Republicans supporting the impeachment.
The FBI is investigating allegations against Paxton on bribery.
The Republican in-fighting is escalating as Governor Greg Abbott has called a special legislative session to allow school vouchers so taxpayer money can go to private schools.
Filing for the March 5, 2024, party primary races begins November 11 and runs through December 11. At this time, no other candidates besides Covey have announced their intentions to run for the District 21 position.