Overall, 70 House Republicans are seeking re-election while only 29 faced primary challenges.
His effort played a role in 25 Republican incumbents winning their primaries outright — many of which faced serious challenges. Four incumbents — Reps. Kyle Kacal (R-College Station), Glenn Rogers (R-Graford), Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton), and Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) — now face runoffs while each finishing first in their respective primaries but failing to eclipse 50 percent.
Speakers historically get involved in primaries to shore up their membership, and they typically have the platform and fundraising ability to do so.
According to the Texas Ethics Commission, as of the latest filing period Phelan contributed over $1.6 million to candidates. The beneficiaries of Phelan’s contributions, whether by direct payments or in-kind expenditures, are listed below:
Stephanie Klick $134,600
David Spiller $97,700
Ryan Guillen $87,400
Lynn Stucky $85,098
Valoree Swanson $82,600
Ernest Bailes $80,138
John Lujan $75,400
Steve Allison $69,000
Mike Schofield $59,200
Glenn Rogers $55,184
Gary VanDeaver $54,500
Lacey Hull $49,976
Ken King $47,700
Justin Holland $47,100
Reggie Smith $45,980
Steve Toth $45,400
Andrew Murr $43,600
John Raney $31,500
Brooks Landgraf $28,600
Dustin Burrows $27,500
Kyle Kacal $22,700
Giovanni Capriglione $22,100
Jeff Leach $21,500
Travis Clardy $18,400
Cole Hefner $18,000
More contributions could have been made in some of these races, and likely were, between the last filing period and last week’s election.
Phelan also contributed $277,233 to the Associated Republicans of Texas Campaign Fund which donated $1.2 million to various Republicans over the last eight months.
After the results rolled in, Phelan congratulated the 25 incumbents who won their primary outright and the four who advanced to runoffs — but one name was absent.
Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) soundly defeated challenger Clyde Bostick, pulling in over 80 percent of the vote. Slaton was not among the other Republicans congratulated by the speaker — an unsurprising fact as Slaton was one of only two Republican House members who voted against Phelan’s speakership, the other being Rep. Jeff Cason (R-Bedford) who is not running for re-election after the GOP-led redistricting bill made his district heavily blue.
“I’m sure it was a clerical error, but I survived re-election also,” Slaton tweeted cheekily last week. “I look forward to working with you, [Speaker Dade Phelan] and my colleagues to ban gender modification of minors and all the other RPT priorities.”
Once the runoffs conclude, Phelan’s attention will likely turn to the November general election. Because of redistricting, only six House districts are in contentious territory this year between Republicans and Democrats.
According to The Texan’s Texas Partisan Index (TPI) — a district-level analysis of the 2018 and 2020 statewide general election results — three districts are rated R-55%: House Districts (HD) 52 in Williamson County, 54 in Bell County, and 112 in Dallas County.
Two more — HD 70 in Collin County and HD 118 in Bexar County — are both rated even by the TPI, and HD 37 in the Rio Grande Valley is rated D-53%.
Phelan will likely not limit his involvement to those races, but they are opportunities for Republicans to preserve or build on their current governing coalition.
Since the speaker himself had no primary, he was able to traverse the state stumping for the candidates listed above — stating he drove some 20,000 miles to 30 different cities across Texas.
As of the latest filing, Phelan’s campaign account has $4.8 million cash-on-hand, which means a lot more to divvy out if he so chooses. And each of these contributions curries support for the legislative agenda he hopes to push when the body reconvenes in January.
Some of these items Phelan has already hinted at include civil asset forfeiture reform, part of his larger criminal justice agenda last session, and a replacement for the soon-to-be-expired Chapter 313 corporate incentive program.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.