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Patrick and Paxton blast away at Phelan

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton railed against House Speaker Dade Phelan at the Texas Republican Party’s convention Thursday in San Antonio, predicting voters would oust him in Tuesday’s primary runoff election.

Phelan is fighting to keep his political career alive in a contentious race against oil and gas consultant David Covey. Patrick, Paxton and Texas GOP Chair Matt Rinaldi have all been instrumental in the campaign to unseat Phelan, a five-term Republican from Beaumont, and have derided him as a fake Republican who has handed too much power to Democrats.

“Dade Phelan is about to lose not only the speakership, but also his House seat,” Paxton said, pumping his fist to cheers from the hundreds of Republicans in the crowd.

Paxton has been on a personal mission to unseat the speaker after the House voted to impeach him last year on corruption charges. He was ultimately acquitted by the Texas Senate, which Patrick leads.

Patrick did not mention Phelan by name, but he told the crowd that the House needs a “conservative speaker.” Patrick said he typically does not get involved in House races, but he’s invested in this one.

Patrick donated $100,000 to Covey at the end of last month. 

“As lieutenant governor, I do not want to run the House,” Patrick said. “But I want a conservative speaker who will run the House.”

Patrick also dinged Phelan for not attending the convention. Phelan, who was censured by the Texas GOP’s executive committee earlier this year, was not expected to address the delegates. A spokeswoman for Phelan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“You are the heart of the party,” Patrick told attendees. “We need a speaker who, actually, in the next convention, will prove he’s a Republican conservative and come here and talk to you — because that hasn’t happened.”

Patrick said Phelan also did not do enough to get a private school voucher plan passed in the House. The lieutenant governor said the policy giving families taxpayer dollars to spend on private education would be necessary to push back against those “on the march to turn this country into a Marxist country.”

“How do you do that? The first thing you do is take over the education system,” Patrick said. “That’s why we must pass school choice. That’s why we need a speaker who will vote for it.”

Phelan’s camp pushed back on the remarks that he’s only in power thanks to Democrats. A spokeswoman said Phelan was chosen as speaker by a supermajority of the House Republican Caucus before being elected to the job by the whole chamber. In the past, he’s said Patrick is trying to take over the House.

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