Paxton Claims Speaker Stole Election
By Turning Out Dems for Runoff Vote

Capitol Inside
May 29, 2024

Attorney General Ken Paxton accused GOP Speaker Dade Phelan of electoral piracy late Tuesday night after the Texas House leader claimed a victory in the face of leviathan odds in a primary runoff election that he survived with less than 51 percent of the vote.

Paxton took a page from Donald Trump's playbook from the 2020 election challenge when he contended without evidence that Phelan stole the second-round vote by luring Democrats to the polls for the Republican runoff in House District 21.

Paxton - still stinging from the House's failed attempt to impeach him last year - said challenger David Covey's campaign already had identified 1,442 Democrats who voted in early in overtime in Phelan's home base of Jefferson County. Phelan beat Covey by 366 votes according to the tentative tally for HD 21 at the Texas Secretary of State's office on Wednesday morning.

"Dade Phelan has not only failed Texans across the state but has blatantly stolen an election from the hard-working people of his district," Paxton asserted. "This treachery is a slap in the face to every true Republicans who believes in fair and honest elections."

But Texas has had open primaries during more than two full decades of Republican rule - and Covey supporters like Donald Trump, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Paxton failed to anticipate that potential impact of the law that the GOP has been content to have in place when they collectively predicted that Phelan would lose in OT.

Paxton offered no evidence to show that Phelan broke the rules or the law in a state where the Republicans had rejected closed primaries until now.

"Texans, we can no longer ignore the betrayal we witnessed in this election," Paxton lamented in the social media blast. "Dade Phelan, in a desperate attempt to secure his political future, orchestrated a strategy that relied on Democrats voting for him in the Republican runoff."

The AG posted a record of seven wins against five losses - falling short in three open House races on the runoff ballot and the fights that State Rep. Gary VanDeaver of New Boston and Phelan won in OT.

Governor Greg Abbott was 6-5 in the runoff election after three House Republicans who he supported - State Reps. Stephanie Klick of Fort Worth, Lynn Stucky of Sanger and Frederick Frazier of Plano - were ousted on Tuesday night by challengers David Lowe, Andy Hopper and Keresa Richardson respectively. Abbott vigorously supported Chris Spencer of Texarkana in an unsuccessful bid to unseat VanDeaver in House District 1 in the runoff vote.

Abbott recorded three wins in four open House races on the second-round ballot to get his record for the runoff above 50-50. But the governor posted a losing record in runoff battles featuring House Republicans with three wins against four defeats. Abbott chalked up wins in overtime when challengers Helen Kerwin of Glen Rose, Katrina Pierson of Rockwall and Alan Schoolcraft of San Antonio defeated State Reps. DeWayne Burns of Cleburne, Justin Holland of Rockwall and John Kuempel of Seguin by double-digit margins last night.

Patrick went 5-4 in overtime. But Covey's collapse after leading the speaker by 3 points in round one dramatically overshadowed the victories that candidates that Patrick and Paxton backed recorded in the runoff vote.

"Let's not give him credit for something he didn't do," Patrick said of the Phelan victory in an interview on the Mark Davis radio show on Wednesday morning. Patrick claimed that the House speaker "didn't win anything last night."

Having failed to beat Phelan at the polls, Paxton suggested that the wholesale losses that the speaker's team suffered in the primary election and runoff vote would come back to haunt his nemesis in the House leadership competition in 2025.

"My message to Austin is clear: to those considering supporting Dade Phelan as Speaker in 2025, ask your 15 colleagues who lost re-election how they feel about their decision now," Paxton added. "You will not return if you vote for Dade Phelan again!"

Phelan claimed almost 66 percent of the runoff vote in his home base of Jefferson County. Phelan garnered only 28 percent of the Jasper County vote but improved his turnout in Orange County where he emerged with 46 percent - 6 points higher than he recorded in the March election.

more to come ...








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