Phelan Foes Could Drive Dem Turnout Up
in HD 21 with New Claims on Walkout Deal

Capitol Inside
May 13, 2024

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan's enemies have a sizzling new conspiracy theory to promote at the state GOP Convention next week in San Antonio after accusing him on Monday of plotting a quorum-busting boycott on an election security bill in 2021 with Democratic colleagues in a secret meeting.

The conservatives who made the claims view them as added ammunition to use against Phelan at the convention that's shaping up as a giant pep rally for David Covey and other challengers who are dueling incumbent Republicans on the speaker's team in the primary runoff election on May 28. Conservatives plan to use Phelan as the central whipping post for delegates and the poster child for closed primary elections in the Lone Star State as well.

But the Phelan detractors who are portraying him a deal-making accomplice in the fight on the voting measure three years ago apparently failed to contemplate that the allegations could backfire in a way that could be a game-changer for the speaker if the fight with Covey is close in overtime.

Covey led Phelan by 3 points with 46 percent of the vote in the initial election on March 5. Covey has endorsements from Donald Trump, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and several Phelan colleagues who are stars on the right.

In a state where GOP runoff voters have a history of being more conservative than they are in primary elections, Phelan's only real hope for survival could be his ability to attract significant support from Democrats who didn't vote in the Democratic primary this year. The more that the Texas GOP and conservatives trash Phelan, the more his stock should go up with the voters who will be in position to make the difference in the House District 21 runoff vote three weeks from now.

State Republican Party Chairman Matt Rinaldi and conservative representatives seized with a vengeance nonetheless today on a video that shows Democratic U.S. Rep. Jasmine Crockett of Dallas talking about the meeting in question when she was a freshman in the Texas House.

Crockett referred to the private gathering with Phelan while she was endorsing House challenger Lauren Simmons during the weekend for a primary runoff election for a seat in the Legislature's lower chamber in Houston. Simmons is squaring off with State Rep. Shawn Thierry of Houston in a House District 146 duel on the overtime ballot on May 28.

"One Democrat I remember clearly raising her hand and saying Mr. Speaker - if we walk out are we going to lose our positions on our committees," Crockett revealed at a news conference for Simmons. "It was Shawn Thierry.

"These voting laws were targeting Houston - they were targeting her constituents," Crockett added. "And you know what she cared about? Her damn seat on a committee."

But Republicans on the far right moved at breakneck speed to spin their own narrative from Crockett's story that revolved in large part on claims that Phelan assured the Democrats that he wouldn't try to stop them from leaving the chamber before a vote on the elections measure.

"Texas Democrats reveal that @DadePhelan made a deal with them to break quorum! This is the same speaker that awards far left democrats with chairmanships, kills GOP priorities, passed over 500 democrat bills, & oversaw the sham impeachment of @KenPaxtonTX," rookie Republican State Rep. Nate Schatzline of Fort Worth said in a post on X.

Schatzline's attempt to embellish Crockett's remarks triggered an angry rebuke from State Rep. Terry Canales - an Edinburg Democrat who chairs the House Transportation Committee.

"The worst kind of people in this world are liars and thieves." Canales wrote on X. "Clearly someone has made your their bitch for you to trade your honor lie like this. I was there, I personally spoke to the Speaker. He was livid. As Labradoodle breeder Im pretty sure you know what bitch is."

Rinaldi, a former House member who was ousted by a Democrat in 2018, responded in sarcastic fashion to the Canales social media slam. "Dade was so livid at the quorum-breaking Democrats, he appointed a bunch of them to committee chairmanships the next session and passed their bills."

But the party boss who will be stepping down for the leadership post at the state convention didn't attempt to defend Schatzline from the bitch assertions. GOP State Rep. Tony Tinderholt of Arlington wasn't concerned that he and others Phelan critics could be driving up the turnout for Democrats in HD 21 in OT.

"Dade Phelan cut a deal with democrats to say they wouldn't lose chairmanships if they fled (broke quorum) the state to stop voter integrity!" Tinderholt asserted in a post on X. "This should ENRAGE house Republicans!"

more to come ...









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