Trump enters local political fray with endorsement
Last updated 2/9/2024 at 1:37pm
Updated correction: Originally the writer made an error in reporting endorsements. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Commissioner Sid Miller have endorsed David Covey for District 21 seat in the Texas House of Representatives.
Former President Donald Trump is bringing his MAGA star power to Orange County by endorsing David Covey of Mauriceville, who is seeking to beat Dade Phelan of Beaumont for the District 21 seat in the Texas House of Representatives.
Both are Republicans running against each other and Alicia Davis of Jasper County. Phelan, who is seeking his fifth term, has never before drawn an opponent.
Phelan not only represents all of Orange County, part of Beaumont in Jefferson County and part of Jasper County, he has served two, two-year terms as the Texas Speaker of the House, considered one of the most powerful positions in state government.
Phelan this past summer oversaw impeachment hearings against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Though the Texas House voted to impeach Paxton, the Texas Senate did not. In the Texas House, 60 of 85 Republicans voted in favor of the impeachment.
Paxton has been a strong supporter of Trump and is now endorsing Covey against Phelan.
The Texas Tribune, a non-profit online publication known for covering Texas government and politics, this week described Phelan as the "No. 1 enemy of Texas' far-right conservatives" because of the impeachment hearing. The publication pointed out the political divide even though Phelan has led the passage of some of the most conservative bills in state history.
Trump's written endorsement statement reads, with his capitalization, "David Covey is running against Dade Phelan, the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, who led the Fraudulent Impeachment of the recently re-elected, in a landslide Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton.
"David is an American First Conservative who will Secure the Border, Restore Election Integrity, Protect our Families and Military/Vets, and Defend our under siege Second Amendment.
"Last week Dade Phelan said 'I voted for President Trump twice for President, and I'm going to vote for him a third time. I think he's going to be the nominee.' Words, however, do not mitigate the Absolute Embarrassment Speaker Phelan inflicted upon theState of Texas and Our Great Republican Party!
"Therefore, David Covey has my Complete and Total Endorsement for Texas' 21st State House District--He will never let you down!"
Phelan in a statement said he has supported the former president in the past and will continue to support him this year. However, the "Trump himself has stated he does not know me nor does he know my record of fighting for Southeast Texans. Unfortunately, my opponents have sought this endorsement in yet another attempt to get retribution against me for holding public officials accountable and defending the Texas House against outside interests."
The impeachment procedures against Paxton have split the Orange County Republican Party and the Texas Republican Party. Besides having the endorsement of Trump, Paxton has endorsed Covey and even visited Roberts Meat Market in Orange to meet with the candidate and other local Republicans.
Phelan has the endorsement of Rick Perry, a longtime Republican governor of Texas who served in Trump's cabinet as Secretary of the Department of Energy. Locally, Billy Rowles, the popular former sheriff of Jasper County has endorsed Phelan. He has also been endorsed by the National Rifle Association and the Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association.
On Tuesday, Phelan came out with a new political ad outlining reasons for the impeachment, which included allegations of Paxton using his office to help a rich donor and friend. The allegations included information about an extramarital affair Paxton was having.
The impeachment allegations came after former top lawyers in Paxton's office sued under the state whistle-blowers law that they were wrongly terminated after giving their allegations against Paxton to the FBI. Lower courts decided in favor of the whistle-blowers and the case is now with the Texas Supreme Court.