Texas GOP leader who pushed for Paxton impeachment triumphs over Trump-endorsed opponent

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) emerged victorious in his primary runoff on Tuesday, as projected by Decision Desk HQ. Despite facing a conservative opponent supported by former President Trump, Phelan managed to secure a narrow win.

Phelan’s reelection campaign gained widespread attention when he oversaw the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) on abuse-of-office charges in the previous year. Despite being a Trump ally, Paxton was ultimately acquitted by the state Senate. However, this trial highlighted the significant rifts within Texas Republicans, as it pitted Trump supporters within the party against the state’s established leaders.

The Texas GOP criticized Phelan, expressing their belief that he should feel embarrassed for subjecting the state of Texas to what they deemed a “political sham of an impeachment.” In response, former President Trump voiced his support for conservative activist David Covey, who was considering challenging Phelan in the state House Speaker race. Trump pointed to Phelan’s involvement in what he referred to as a “fraudulent” impeachment as the basis for his endorsement.

Paxton criticized Phelan and “the Austin establishment” on Monday in a post on the social platform X. The runoff races were portrayed as acts of retaliation by Paxton and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who were both targeting state-level Republicans who opposed Abbott’s school voucher program. In the primaries two months ago, nine Texas GOP lawmakers were defeated, and another eight were pushed into runoffs.

Phelan characterized the runoff for his March 5 primary as a significant contest, referring to it as “the battle for the soul of our district.”

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