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Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan is projected to win the primary runoff for his legislative seat, defeating David Covey, a former local county GOP chairman. Phelan led by 366 votes, with Covey conceding the race. Despite opposition from influential hard-right figures in the Texas GOP, Phelan emerged victorious in the runoff after finishing second to Covey in the first round of voting in March.

The primary runoff for Phelan’s seat was part of a larger battle within the Texas GOP, with Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick casting Phelan as a speaker chosen by Democrats due to all House members being allowed to vote on the speaker. Phelan, who was a top target in Paxton’s revenge tour against state House Republicans who voted to impeach him, was ultimately successful in retaining his seat.

In another primary runoff for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, incumbent Tony Gonzales narrowly leads challenger Brandon Herrera. The race, which has been costly and bitter, drew more than $8 million in television advertising spending. Gonzales, a two-term incumbent, faced criticism from the Texas Republican Party for a “lack of fidelity to Republican principles and priorities” but managed to secure a lead in the primary runoff.

One of the key points of contention in the race between Gonzales and Herrera was gun policy, particularly in the aftermath of a school shooting that occurred in Uvalde. Gonzales’ vote for gun safety legislation became a focal point of Herrera’s campaign, which had support from several House Republicans. The runoff highlighted divisions within the GOP over issues such as compromise with Democrats and adherence to conservative principles.

Gonzales expressed the importance of the primary runoff’s result in sending a message to the Republican Party regarding governance and conservative values. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Santos Limon in the general election, with the 23rd District not being a target for Democrats. The outcome of the primary runoff will impact the direction of the GOP in terms of governing and legislative agenda moving forward.

Overall, the primary runoffs in Texas, including those for Phelan’s legislative seat and the 23rd Congressional District, shed light on the internal divisions within the state GOP. These races have highlighted the ongoing struggle between hard-right and more moderate factions within the party, with implications for the future direction of Texas politics and the Republican Party as a whole.

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