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June 13, 2024      8:30 AM

SB: In speaker race, Patrick and Paxton handed Trump one of the most embarrassing losses of his political career

Meantime, there are multiple paths for the Texas House to assert its independence; the most straightforward way is for Phelan to retain the gavel after learning firsthand that loyalty up to Abbott never equals loyalty back down

In this divisive and tumultuous political environment, here’s something we should all be able to agree on. There is nothing former President Donald Trump hates more than losing.

So, it probably deserves more discussion that in the Texas runoff election, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and their top advisors helped deliver what might very well be the second worst defeat of Trump’s political career: GOP challenger David Covey’s loss to Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan in the Golden Triangle. “If this is what beating a Trump endorsement feels like, we should do it more often,” said one Republican that night.

Trump of course has plenty of other problems to deal with at the moment. But surely this question has, at some point, emanated from Mar-a-Lago: “What the hell happened in Texas?” Remember, Trump has repeatedly said that when he decides which candidates to endorse in this state, he relies on Patrick for the list. Even after Phelan voiced support for Trump, the former president endorsed against him. The speaker bent the knee only to be kicked in the teeth.

Coming down to the wire, when Trump was promoting his endorsement of Covey onstage at the NRA convention in Dallas, Patrick likely knew Phelan was going to win as evidenced by the fact that he had no plans to appear alongside the challenger on runoff election night the way he did on Super Tuesday.

Some top House Republicans have said there’s no way Patrick would have attended Covey’s Super Tuesday party with a runoff in mind. No, Patrick must have thought Covey would win outright months ago. You could rightly argue that the vast majority of Trump endorsees won in Texas. But bullying rank and file lawmakers with unprecedented presidential imprimatur in local races is not in the same universe as endorsing against a sitting Texas House speaker. Patrick used Trump’s endorsement as his own personal plaything in the primaries to great effect except in the race with the most downside risk for the future of governing at the Texas Capitol.

Now what?

By Scott Braddock

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