Ken Paxton beat back a challenge by a member of the Bush political dynasty to win a runoff for the Republican nomination for Texas attorney general, setting him up to seek a third term.
Paxton was declared the winner over George P. Bush by CNN and NBC. An incomplete, unofficial early count from the AP showed Paxton leading with 66% of the vote, versus 34% for Bush. The Democratic runoff has yet to be called. No Democrat has won election to statewide office in Texas since 1994.
Paxton, 59, was the favorite ahead of the contest and his victory shows Republican voters continue to support him despite Bush’s efforts to highlight ethics issues.
The two-term attorney general has been indicted on securities fraud, faces claims by aides that he intervened to help wealthy donors and has said the state bar plans to sue him over his attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He’s denied any wrongdoing and says the accusations are politically motivated.
Paxton became a prominent figure in national media with his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and he appeals to conservatives in Texas with his hard right stances on immigration, abortion and medical care for transgender children. Former President Donald Trump backed him in the race.
Bush — the 46-year-old son of Jeb Bush, nephew of George W. Bush and grandson of George H.W. Bush — had sought Trump’s endorsement and tried to distance himself from the more moderate stances his family was known for. When Bush’s term as head of the Texas General Land Office is over in January, it will end a 70-year history of family members who have held state or federal office.
Many of Paxton’s policies have been at odds with the business community. He’s sued tech giants including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook over privacy concerns. His investigations into transgender care for children has angered a coalition of businesses who say it will make it harder for them to recruit workers to the state. And he’s infuriated Wall Street by preventing banks from underwriting state bond sales if they have cut ties with the firearms industry.
The accusations of wrongdoing against Paxton could end up hurting him in the general election, especially if the securities-fraud case advances or there’s new developments with the whistleblowers in his office, according to Cal Jillson, a professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Last week, Senator John Cornyn, who served as the state’s attorney general in the early 2000s, called Paxton’s legal scandals an “embarrassment.”
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