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Texas Republican who led Paxton impeachment effort defeats Trump-backed rival


Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) was projected to narrowly win his primary runoff on Tuesday, according to Decision Desk HQ, defeating a conservative challenger backed by former President Trump. 

Phelan’s reelection bid was thrust into the national spotlight after he presided over the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) on abuse-of-office charges last year. Paxton, a Trump ally, was acquitted by the state Senate, but the proceedings exposed deep divisions among Texas Republicans, pitting Trump supporters in the party against the state’s old guard.

The Texas GOP argued at the time that Phelan “should be embarrassed” for putting the Lone Star State through a “political sham of an impeachment.” Trump then endorsed conservative activist David Covey to challenge the state House Speaker, citing Phelan’s role in the “fraudulent” impeachment. 

“He’s bad, bad, bad for the Republican Party and democracy. We need him beaten and beaten badly,” Trump said of Phelan in a video shared Saturday on his Truth Social platform, calling on Texans to cast their ballots in the “very important” runoff. 

Paxton also bashed Phelan and “the Austin establishment” in a Monday post on X as the runoff races were cast as revenge fights for Paxton and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who was also targeting state-level Republicans who voted against his school voucher program. Nine Texas GOP lawmakers were defeated in the primaries two months ago, and another eight were forced into runoffs.

After the March 5 primary solidified into a runoff, Phelan described the race as “the battle for the soul of our district.”

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