The Republicans trying to unseat embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton are unsparing in their criticism of the incumbent from their own party — and beginning to draw some hard contrasts with one another.
During separate one-on-one interviews for the 2021 Texas Tribune Festival, the three Republican primary challengers took Paxton to task for the legal problems he has accrued in office, with two even saying he should resign. At the same time, each made the case for why they should be the main GOP alternative to the incumbent, raising differences based on experience — legal, executive and political — as well as conservative credentials.
As he seeks a third term, Paxton is being challenged by fellow Republicans George P. Bush, the land commissioner; Eva Guzman, a former state Supreme Court justice; and Matt Krause, a state representative from Fort Worth. Bush and Guzman have been running since June, while Krause entered the race last week, saying he did not think Bush or Guzman was capable of taking out the incumbent.
Paxton has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, though his opponents are unfazed, pressing forward with hopes of making next year’s primary a referendum on the beleaguered incumbent.
Paxton has been indicted on securities fraud charges since his first months in office six years ago. He more recently came under FBI investigation over allegations by some of his former deputies that he abused his office to aid a wealthy donor. He has denied wrongdoing in both cases, while painting his primary foes as ambitious politicians who are doing the bidding of Democrats and making it harder for the GOP to hold the key office next year.