The Speaker of the Texas House Dade Phelan will be heading to a runoff, after failing to receive the support of a majority of Republican voters in his district.

Phelan, who was first elected to the House in 2014 and has been speaker since 2021, will face off against former Orange County GOP chairman David Covey in a runoff election that is certain to garner attention from across the state.

Phelan had been criticized by conservatives for failing to pass conservative priorities, placing Democrats in leadership positions, and leading the charge to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton last year. Former President Donald Trump endorsed Covey, calling any Republican who backed Phelan “a fool.”

Phelan received 45.8 percent of the vote with Covey earning 45.3 percent. 

Alicia Davis, a Jasper County activist, took 8.9 percent of the vote.

“The people of House District 21 have put every politician in Texas, and the nation, on notice,” said Covey. “Our elected officials are elected by the people and work for the people, and when they don’t, there will be consequences.” 

“Since 1836, Texans have answered the call to defend liberty and fight for our freedoms. I have every intention of continuing that tradition,” he added.

Covey was joined by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick at his election night watch party. Patrick, who has been a vocal critic of Phelan, had not officially endorsed Covey.

In his statement, Phelan blamed a “tidal wave of outside influence and the relentless flood of special interest dollars pouring into House District 21.” He said, “Our campaign emerges today still standing strong against the tides that have sought to unseat me. The barrage aimed at our campaign over the past year was meant to be my undoing, and yet here I am, emerging from the most contentious and expensive primary in state history still fighting and more determined than ever.”

Despite his optimism, Phelan is in a historically treacherous position. Runoffs are traditionally difficult for incumbent lawmakers. Only one other speaker has entered a runoff and he lost in 1972. 

The runoff election will take place on May 28. 

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens