After the Texas Senate voted to acquit the Attorney General in September 2023, Ken Paxton busied himself with a retaliation campaign against Republican representatives who voted to impeach him. On Monday, Oct. 9, 2023, the AG officially endorsed four House Republican primary candidates challenging four Collin County incumbent state representatives who voted for his impeachment.
“We are in the battle of our lifetime as we seek to bring back order to the Texas House of Representatives,” said Paxton in a statement, claiming he’ll campaign against “swamp” incumbents in his home County. “It’s time for Jeff Leach, Matt Shaheen, Frederick Frazier and Candy Noble to come home… (they’ve) chosen petty political corruption and a failed witch hunt over delivering real results for their constituents.”
The four candidates endorsed by the AG are:
- Allen Councilmember Daren Meis who will challenge incumbent Jeff Leach for the 67th House District
- Texas State Republican Executive Committeeman Chuck Branch against Frederick Frazier in the 61st House District
- Businessman and Trump activist Wayne Richard will challenge state Rep. Matt Shaheen for 66th House District
- Abraham George, who during Monday’s Collin County GOP meeting, stepped down as the party chair to run against incumbent Candy Noble in the 89th House District.
“My record is clear: record border security efforts, banning a state income tax, passing historic property tax relief, stopping gender modification surgeries on kids, ensuring unborn babies are protected, preserving religious liberty, fighting liberal efforts to defund our police and more," Rep. Jeff Leach told Local Profile. "I will proudly run on these conservative achievements that have made Texas the envy of the nation.”
Earlier on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, as he shared the first round of endorsements for the State House with a list of seven candidates, Paxton took the opportunity to give a jab at incumbent representatives as well as House Speaker Dade Phelan.
In addition to claiming that the State House was hijacked by liberal RINO (Republicans in name only) Republicans, Paxton said he was tired of watching as “a liberal House Speaker and his loyalists kills hundreds of pieces of conservative legislation that would unleash untold economic growth and secure even more freedom.” What pieces of legislation Paxton is referring to is unclear as they go unmentioned.
The seven candidates included in Paxton’s first round of endorsements are:
- Former Orange County Republican Chairman David Covey against incumbent House Speaker Dade Phelan in House District 21
- Texas State Director for Gun Owners of America and self-described gun rights lobbyist Wes Virdell, against incumbent Andrew Murr for the District 53 seat
- Wise County Conservatives co-founder Andy Hopper against incumbent Lynn Stucky for House District 64
- Republican Precinct Chair in Parker County Mike Olcott against Glenn Rogers in House District 60
- Former Greenville City Council member Brent Money for the vacant House District 2 seat
- Spring Branch Independent School District Trustee John Perez against incumbent Mano DeAyala for the House District 133 seat
- Businessman Matt Morgan against incumbent Jacey Jetton for House District 26
As previously reported by Local Profile, Paxton’s impeachment was prompted by a 2020 investigation that involved four employees accusing him of bribery and abusing his office to help a campaign contributor, Nate Paul, who employed a woman with whom Paxton was having an alleged affair. To settle the whistleblower lawsuit that followed, Paxton agreed to apologize and pay $3.3 million in taxpayer money. State lawmakers hesitated to pay that bill and launched an investigation that led to the House overwhelmingly voting to impeach Paxton.
This decision created a miasma in the Texas GOP. Since the State prosecutors turned over the investigation to the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, Paxton supporters started a campaign against all Republican representatives who voted for the impeachment, which got increasingly heated following the AG’s acquittal.
“Speaker Dade Phelan you and your band of RINOs are now on notice,” tweeted (Xed?) Rep. Jonathan Stickland on Sept. 16, 2023, the day of the impeachment acquittal. “You will be held accountable for this entire sham.” A sentiment replicated by the Texas GOP’s statement on the matter.
BREAKING: @KenPaxtonTX acquitted of ALL charges by the Texas Senate. Welcome back Attorney General!!— Texas GOP (@TexasGOP) September 16, 2023
Statement by @TexasGOP Chairman @MattRinaldiTX#txlege #PaxtonTrial #PaxtonVerdict pic.twitter.com/D6cKB1hQ2u