DALLAS — Donald Trump on Monday endorsed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for reelection, giving the embattled incumbent a sought-after edge in the 2022 GOP primary that also features Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.
“Attorney General Ken Paxton has been bravely on the front line in the fight 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 wrote in an email. “Ken is strong on Crime, Border Security, the Second Amendment, Election Integrity and, above all, our Constitution.”
Paxton on Monday tweeted that he was honored to have Trump’s backing.
Despite Trump’s endorsement of Paxton, Bush reaffirmed his intention to challenge Paxton.
“I’m running for Attorney General because Texans deserve integrity and honesty from the office of Texas’ top law enforcement official,” Bush wrote. “Texans deserve a candidate without a laundry list of existing and potential criminal indictments.”
In his tweet, Bush was alluding to the civil charges and criminal investigations that are dogging Paxton, including a 2015 indictment on securities fraud. He’s also being investigated by the FBI, according to sources, on allegations of bribery in connection to an alleged extramarital affair. Paxton is married to state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney.
Seven top staffers in the attorney general’s office reported Paxton to law enforcement and accused him of serious crimes — bribery, abuse of office and improper influence. The staffers complained that Nate Paul, an Austin-based businessman and campaign donor, repeatedly tried to use the state agency for personal gain, and that Paxton let him. Paul hired a woman who allegedly was having an affair with Paxton, according to court depositions.
In response, Paxton accused the employees of impeding a criminal investigation and fired three of them. He called their allegations false and said he wouldn’t step down. Paxton said he was doing his job to defend the constitutional rights of Texas citizens.
Despite the controversies, Trump on Monday was gushing in his praise of Paxton, who unsuccessfully asked the U.S. Supreme Court to toss out the election results of several battleground state won by President Joe Biden. At the time and in recent weeks, Trump has praised Paxton for pushing his “Make American Great Again” agenda.
“He loves our Military and our Vets,” Trump wrote in the statement. “It is going to take a PATRIOT like Ken Paxton to advance America First policies in order to Make America Great Again … He is a true Texan who will keep Texas safe — and will never let you down!”
Bush had been actively courting an endorsement from Trump. When he announced his bid for attorney general last month, Bush said that all his life he’s been willing to “chart a different course” and offered as an example that he was the only member of his politically famous family to endorse Trump. Bush’s campaign had drink koozies picturing Bush and Trump, imprinted with: “This is the only Bush that likes me. This is the Bush that got it right. I like him. — Donald J. Trump.”
The nephew of former President George W. Bush and the son of former Florida Jeb Bush, George P. Bush has several connections in the Trump orbit and is friends with Donald Trump Jr.
But it was clear to most political observers that Paxton would get Trump’s endorsement, especially after the former president acknowledged the attorney general several times during his speech this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas.
Paxton and Guzman also addressed CPAC.
Guzman entered the race after Bush, and she was not seen as a contender for Trump’s support.
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