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Trump Is Trying to Oust Ken Paxton’s Foes in Texas

The former president is backing multiple challengers to Texas incumbents.

Texas Attorney General Impeachment AP-23258521282786
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, center, was impeached by the state House but acquitted by the Senate. Eric Gay/AP

Donald Trump is yet again endorsing as retaliation — but this time, it’s against foes of not himself but ally Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The former president posted a slew of endorsements Monday night of Texas state House candidates and three judicial candidates who are challenging incumbent Republicans. In each of the 14 posts on Monday night, he noted that the incumbent had voted to impeach or strip authority from Paxton, who, just like President Trump, has been indicted in several different legal cases.

But they’re not backing down from that impeachment vote. “This is the line,” said state Rep. Drew Darby, after Trump endorsed his opponent, Stormy Bradley. “I am not going to cross it, and this is my Alamo.”

It’s unusual for the top figure in a political party to weigh in on state-level primaries, particularly with the goal of ousting an incumbent. But in a state full of Trump supporters, Paxton might just be the biggest one. He and his office filed a lawsuit aiming to throw out other states’ election results after Trump’s 2020 election loss, and the former president, in turn, pushed to protect Paxton when he faced impeachment last year.

The endorsements by Trump fulfill a promise he made on his Truth Social shortly before the Texas House impeached Paxton. In that post, Trump vowed to “fight” those who voted to impeach the attorney general, who was ultimately acquitted by the state Senate.

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The endorsements also largely align with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Paxton himself, who have publicly backed challengers to incumbents within the state. Paxton has targeted incumbents who voted to impeach him, while Abbott endorsed against Republicans who voted against his school voucher bill.

Darby, who questioned whether Trump even knows who he is, likened the endorsement of his opponent to a line from the film “The Outlaw Josey Wales”: “You can judge others by the quality of their enemies. Well, the former president, the governor, the lieutenant governor and attorney general. That makes it pretty great.”

Trump also endorsed Liz Case, the primary challenger for state Rep. Stan Lambert, another Republican who voted to impeach Paxton. Lambert told NOTUS he stands by his votes despite the endorsements for his opponent. “Everyone has said vote your district, because if you don’t, you’re not going to come back,” Lambert said.

Ryan Hernández is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.