House District 21 is comprised of Jasper and Orange Counties, and part of Jefferson County. The district is currently represented by House Speaker Dade Phelan.

Phelan (R-Beaumont) will be facing David Covey in the primary runoff election on May 28.

Dade Phelan

Phelan has been in office as state representative since 2014 and was elected as house speaker in 2021. As speaker, Phelan doesn’t receive traditional ratings from legislative groups. However, his ratings from 2019—his last regular session before assuming the speakership—include a 60 from Texas Right to Life, a 49 from Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, and a 59 from Young Conservatives of Texas.

Phelan has recently been under fire for openly promoting Democrat power in the House and benefiting from the contributions of a Democrat official whom the Attorney General attempted to prosecute for campaign finance violations. In the past, Phelan has also been accused of refusing to push school choice.

Phelan has received endorsements from the National Rifle Association, Texas State Association of Fire Fighters, Texas State Rifle Association, Texas Alliance for Life, and Texas Association of Business.

Phelan’s campaign has received $750,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee Federal and $215,000 from Texas Sands PAC. He has also received individual donations and contributions from Texans For Responsible Government PAC, Border Health PAC, and HillCo PAC. He currently has over $3 million on hand.

David Covey

Covey is a conservative activist and former chairman of the Orange County Republican Party.

Covey has received endorsements from President Donald Trump, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

Covey’s campaign has received over $400,000 from Texans United for a Conservative Majority PAC. He has also received contributions from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. He currently has about $100,000 on hand.

The Issues

Over the past several weeks, Texas Scorecard questioned all state legislative runoff candidates on issues important to voters as they head to the polls. 

Speaker Phelan did not respond to any of the inquiries.

Regarding Republicans appointing Democrat committee chairs, Covey stated that he supports banning these appointments, and said that Republicans need to stand their ground as the majority party.

With border security, Covey believes that a border protection unit should be created.

On banning foreign ownership of Texas land, Covey firmly agreed to these bans and believes this is vital to national safety.

Covey is also against gambling expansion, stating that “In reality, casinos only serve to make themselves money – not the community around them.” 

On school choice, Covey said parents have the right to choose the best education option for their children.

For election security, Covey said he believes the primary should be closed so Democrats cannot interfere with Republican elections, the attorney general should be given the power to prosecute election crimes, and local drop box voting should be prohibited.

In regards to Second Amendment rights, Covey stated that these rights cannot be obstructed and that Texas lawmakers should either abide by that or be removed.

Regarding what he would like to see in a speaker candidate, Covey said, “Our next Speaker must have the will to govern as the majority and eliminate Democrat chairmanship positions.”

Election Day

The winner of the Republican runoff on May 28 will win the November general election by default, since there is not a Democrat candidate. Early voting for the runoff election begins Monday, May 20, and runs through Friday, May 24.

Amelia McKenzie

Amelia is a senior at Liberty University in Virginia. She is studying Digital Journalism and is currently a fellow with Texas Scorecard.