How Texas's Attorney General won by losing big

In a 2016 article in Texas Monthly, the reporter R. G. Ratcliffe wrote that, following Paxton’s indictment, the attorney general virtually disappeared from the day-to-day operations of his office and made few media appearances. It was the low point of his tenure in terms of public support. Only after he hired two crisis-management firms did his strategy—and political fortunes—begin to change. Instead of avoiding reporters, Paxton began to seek out the spotlight.

In many respects, Ratcliffe argued, it was a return to the formula Paxton had used during his dozen years in the Texas Legislature. Paxton’s signature achievement as a lawmaker was passing legislation that changed the signs welcoming travelers to Texas so that they included the words “Proud to be the home of President George W. Bush.”

Much of the other legislation Paxton sponsored may have failed, Ratcliffe recounted, but he used those failures to build a loyal political following. He sponsored bills that would have prevented school districts from getting sex-education material from Planned Parenthood, and that promised to protect religious freedom, endearing him to Christian conservatives. That approach propelled him to one of the most important statewide offices, as he succeeded Greg Abbott as attorney general.