Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Phelan beats Covey by 366 votes

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan barely hung onto his position as District 21 representative Tuesday night with 366 more votes as he battled challenger David Covey in a runoff.

The runoff total for the three counties in District 21 had 12,813 votes for Phelan and 12,447 for Covey.

Orange County went with Covey in the March primary race and again in Tuesday's runoff. The county Elections Administrator's Office reports a preliminary runoff final of 5,842 votes, or 836 more than Phelan with 5,006. Covey got 53.85 percent of Orange County votes and Phelan got 46.15 percent.

The district has all of Orange and Jasper counties, plus part of Jefferson County. Covey lives in Mauriceville and Phelan lives in Beaumont.

Jefferson County sent Phelan to the victory with 6,536 votes compared to 3,391 for Covey.

Jasper County also went with Covey as he drew 3,214 votes there with Phelan getting 1,271.

The Texas Tribune reports the 366-vote margin is within the amount that allows Covey to ask for a recount.

Orange County has 55,192 registered voters and all but the 918 who voted in the Democratic primary in March were eligible to vote in the runoff race.

Covey was challenging Phelan for the Texas House of Representatives seat in the Republican primary runoff with no Democrats or other candidates running in November.

The race has attracted a lot of national attention with Covey getting the endorsement of former president Donald Trump, along with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

Texas Tribune said the race is "most certainly" the most expensive Texas House of Representatives race in history. Both candidates brought in thousands of dollars from donors outside the area and some outside the state. The online news source said Phelan's campaign reported spending $3.8 million on the runoff, more than double the $1.2 million spent for the Covey campaign.

Phelan has served in the District 21 spot for 10 years and worked his way up to serving as the powerful speaker of the house. Most local city and county leaders have endorsed him for his work in helping the area draw new industries, get money for drainage improvements, and help after disasters.

Phelan as speaker last year led the house impeachment of Attorney General Paxton on various allegations of misconduct. The house impeached Paxton, but the Texas Senate, led by Patrick, did not impeach Paxton.

A number of Republicans backing Covey criticized Phelan for working with house Democrats and appointing them to house committees. Mixing Republicans and Democrats on the committees had once been a long tradition in the state house.

Being re-elected to the District 21 seat does not guarantee Phelan will take back the position of house speaker. At least one Republican house member has announced he will challenge Phelan's run for speaker when the next legislature meets in January 2025.


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