Former President Trump announced that he will soon make an endorsement in the Republican primary race for attorney general in Texas. The top two contenders are the current Attorney General Ken Paxton and Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Trump says he “likes them both very much.”
“I like them both very much,” Trump said in a statement Tuesday. “I’ll be making my endorsement and recommendation to the great people of Texas in the not-so-distant future.”
George P. Bush, son of JEB!, has not officially declared himself a candidate for attorney general but it has long been rumored that he is ready for a job promotion out of his current office. Bush has been Land Commissioner since 2014. He is an attorney and a veteran who served in Afganistan with the U.S. Navy Reserve as an intelligence officer. Despite his last name, he has been a loyal Trump supporter which must cause some awkward moments at family gatherings. This is politics, though, and in Texas Trump carries some sway with Republican primary voters. Bush has scheduled a campaign kick-off on June 2 in Austin, though for which office is unclear.
Ken Paxton has served as the Attorney General of Texas since 2015. He, too, has been a loyal supporter of Trump in Texas. He flew to Washington for the January 6 Trump rally and more recently, he’s played golf with Trump in Florida. Paxton proudly filed the first lawsuit on the behalf of Texas against the Biden administration as he came into office. Since then, he has regularly filed lawsuits against the administration against the Biden agenda, particularly as it relates to the crisis on the southern border. Paxton was a driving force in the lawsuit that challenged the 2020 presidential election results. And, Paxton opened up an investigation of Twitter when it de-platformed Trump.
Paxton has a lot of baggage. He has been under a cloud of indictment since 2015. Bush has said that the Texas attorney general needs to be someone who is ” above reproach.” Paxton has also made headlines as staff in his office have made accusations against him, such as abusing his authority to help a friend who donated to his campaign.
Bush and Paxton each have unique histories with Trump. Bush endeared himself to Trump by emerging as the only prominent member of his famous political family to support the former president. Paxton has been one of the most pro-Trump attorneys general — especially in the aftermath of the November election, when he launched a lawsuit challenging Trump’s reelection loss in four battleground states.
Bush has said the state’s top law enforcement official “needs to be above reproach.” Paxton has been under indictment on securities fraud charges since 2015, and he more recently came under FBI investigation related to allegations that he abused his office to aid a wealthy donor. He has denied wrongdoing in both instances.
On Monday, Bush spoke with Trump about his (Bush’s) political future. And he tweeted out a picture of himself doing that.
“We talked about the importance of putting the right team on field, because the Democrats are targeting our state,” Bush told The Dallas Morning News. “We talked about my race and the vision that I have for the state of Texas.”
Great to speak with President Trump to discuss the future of Texas and how we are keeping up the fight to put America first. I appreciate the words of encouragement and support. Big things coming soon! pic.twitter.com/U5cYFAFlCk
— George P. Bush (@georgepbush) May 24, 2021
So far, Paxton hasn’t tweeted about Trump and a possible endorsement.
Trump has focused on Texas primary races since he left office. He has a mixed record of success with his endorsements. Last month he made an eleventh-hour endorsement of Susan Wright, widow of Rep.Ron Wright, in a special election to fill his seat after his death. Trump’s endorsement was influential, especially in the more rural areas of the district. Rick Perry endorsed another candidate, state Rep. Jake Ellzey. Wright finished in first place. Both made it to a run-off race. Trump’s endorsement in the attorney general primary race will likely sway voters in a statewide race. If Bush does decide to challenge Paxton, Trump has a decision to make about an endorsement between two loyal supporters. We’ll know more after Bush’s June 2 announcement.