Beleaguered Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been thrown a lifeline in the form of an endorsement from former president Donald Trump.
“Attorney General Ken Paxton has been bravely on the front line in the battle for Texas, and America, against the vicious and very dangerous Radical Left Democrats, and the foolish and unsuspecting RINOs that are destroying our Country,” Trump said in a statement.
Trump’s endorsement gives Paxton’s prospects for re-election a significant boost. He is currently in a tough three-way primary against two credible and well-funded challengers who have both been elected statewide: Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.
The fact that Paxton drew two serious challengers is an indicator that he is perceived to be vulnerable. He is still battling a 2015 indictment on securities fraud charges, had several senior staff members resign alleging misconduct, and is currently under investigation by the Texas State Bar Association.
However, he now has the most important endorsement in a Republican Primary. Paxton has been a strong supporter and staunch defended of the former president over the years. In the aftermath of the 2020 Presidential Election, he filed a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the election results in several swing states won by President Jo Biden.
But while Paxton’s lawsuit was unsuccessful in changing the outcome of the 2020 election, it may have turned out to be a success after all- for his own electoral prospects in 2022.
The endorsement comes several months after Trump said he would weigh in on the race. Both Paxton and Bush have been actively vying for the former president’s approval. Both have been loyal Trump supporters, with Bush even campaigning as, “The only Bush that Trump likes.” In the end, however Trump rewarded Paxton’s loyalty.
Having the Trump endorsement doesn’t mean Paxton is a shoe-in for re-election though. Both Bush and Guzman have strong bases of support, with Bush garnering support from some of the Texas GOP old guard, while Guzman has the endorsement of mega-donor Texans for Lawsuit Reform. Neither is likely to drop out.
Paxton’s own baggage also isn’t going away anytime soon, and will certainly be front and center as the campaign ramps up. However, running in the Republican primary, Paxton holds the ultimate trump card.