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By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

Early voting starts Monday for Phelan-Covey race


Last updated 5/14/2024 at 10:30pm

Dade Phelan, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives

Fans of politics from across the country will be watching Southeast Texas next week as early voting begins in a Republican primary race that has even drawn an endorsement from former President Trump against the incumbent.

Nearly 53,900 registered Orange County voters are eligible to vote in the runoff. Early voting will begin Monday morning for the Texas House of Representatives District 21 seat. The district includes Orange County, part of Jefferson County, and Jasper County.

The incumbent is Dade Phelan of Beaumont, who has served two terms as the powerful Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Phelan was beat by challenger David Covey of Mauriceville in the March Republican primary. But because of a third candidate in the race, neither got 50 percent, so a runoff is set for May 28.

Early voting will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday May 20, Tuesday May 21, Wednesday May 22, Thursday May 23, and Friday May 24. Early voting sites are at the Orange Public Library, 220 North Fifth Street in downtown Orange; the Mauriceville Community Center, 7741 Cohenour Road in Mauriceville; Orange County Airport, 2640 Highway 87 South between Bridge City and Orange; and Raymond Gould Community Center, 385 Claiborne Street in Vidor.

Any registered Orange County voter with proper identification may vote at any of the early voting sites and the polling spots on Election Day. However, because the race is a party runoff, people who voted in the Democratic Party primary in March are not allowed to vote in the Republican runoff.

According to the Orange County Elections Administration, the county has 54,871 voters and a little more than 41,000 did not vote in the March 2024 party primary races.

Of those voting, 12,834 voted in the Republican primary and only 981 in the Democratic primary.

Anyone who did not vote in a primary race may vote in the Republican primary runoff. The 981 Democratic primary voters may not cross a party line and vote in the runoff. Nearly 53,900 voters in Orange County will be eligible to vote in the Republican primary.

Phelan has drawn the ire of many Republicans because he appointed Democrats to chair house committees, which is a long-running tradition to be bipartisan. He also accepted the impeachment proceedings against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for alleged wrongdoings brought on by lawyers in his office who became whistle-blowers.

Paxton, who has also faced other legal problems, was impeached by the house, but not by the Texas Senate. The attorney general has been a longtime supporter of Donald Trump.

Trump, Paxton, and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller have endorsed Covey.

David Covey

Many Orange County leaders, including County Judge John Gothia and Orange Mayor Larry Spears Jr., have endorsed Phelan because of the work he has done to help Orange County, including monies to help alleviate flooding and hurricane recovery.

In the March primary, Covey received a total of 15,589 votes districtwide, or 46.3 percent of the vote. Phelan came in with 14,574 votes, 1,015 less than Covey, for 43.3 percent of the votes. Alicia Davis of Jasper, who has since endorsed Covey, got 3,523 voes, or 10.5 percent.

Orange County, however, favored Covey by a wider margin. Here, Covey received 8,203 votes, or 54.52 percent, with Phelan getting 5,911, or 39.33 percent, and Alicia Davis of Jasper getting 925, or 6.15 percent.


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