Understanding that more than 80 percent of the time incumbents pushed into runoff elections end up losing, House Speaker Dade Phelan and his allies are attempting to raise and spend unprecedented amounts of money to keep his seat in the Texas Legislature. According to sources close to the campaign, Phelan is relying on the campaign connections of former Gov. Rick Perry in a last-ditch effort to win House District 21.

Perry, now a lobbyist for the gambling industry, has emerged as Phelan’s top cheerleader. This puts Perry at odds with his former boss, President Donald Trump, and a range of Texas Republican officeholders and conservative groups, who have been supporting David Covey in the contest.

Former Perry strategist Rob Johnson has reportedly been retained for close to $250,000 to manage the two-month runoff campaign. The same sources allege Johnson has been promised another quarter-million win bonus.

It is believed that Johnson’s role will be announced by Phelan’s campaign at an Austin Club event on Thursday to “reassure” big donors and lobbyists.

Other operatives from Perry’s network are being approached for roles ahead of the May 28 runoff. But not everyone is willing to take the paycheck.

“Big money is being paid out because career reputations are on the line,” one source told Texas Scorecard. Several political operatives turned down roles for any money, knowing the downside of a high-profile loss would be they “might never be able to work in Texas again.”

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."

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