COLLIN COUNTY (CBSNewsTexas.com) — At the Collin County Republican Party meeting Monday night, supporters gave Attorney General Ken Paxton a hero's welcome weeks after he was acquitted by the Texas Senate of impeachment articles.
Paxton told the crowd, "We have a united front."
Paxton vowed he's going to campaign against House Speaker Dade Phelan and the Republican state representatives from his home county and another key county in North Texas who voted to impeach him in May.
"I'm going to be all over," he said. "I'm going to be in Tarrant County, and I'm going to be here. I'm going to be helping people raise money. We are going to take the Texas House back and we are going to clean house."
Paxton endorsed four candidates challenging the incumbents in the Republican primary this March:
- Allen Councilmember Daren Meis against incumbent Jeff Leach in the 67th House District.
- Chuck Branch, who's challenging incumbent Frederick Frazier in the 61st House District.
- Wayne Richard, who wants to unseat incumbent Matt Shaheen in the 66th House District.
- Abraham George, who stepped down as the party chair, to run against incumbent Candy Noble in the 89th House District.
Paxton said, "I'm going to endorse everyone who came to the stage because of their courage and willingness to step out."
Wayne Richard criticized Rep. Shaheen's decision to go along with most of the House to impeach Paxton. "Did our House members know they had no evidence, or did they not care if they had no evidence? They embarrassed Ken and his wife. They embarrassed us as Republicans."
Shaheen downplayed Paxton's endorsement of his primary opponent. "I think Mr. Paxton is bitter over that vote. Quite frankly, he's irrelevant."
He said he's running on his record. "We ended abortion, we passed constitutional carry. I passed one of the strongest religious freedom pieces of legislation in the entire nation, so look, I've got a great record."
Abraham George criticized Rep. Noble and other House members for going along with Speaker Phelan. "I'm running, they're running because our representatives are not representing us anymore. They are representing the Austin machine."
In a statement, Noble said, "I talk to people every day in House District 89 and they appreciate my conservative voting record of historic border security funding, banning dangerous gender modification surgeries on minors, passing the largest property tax cut in Texas history, protecting innocent Texans from sexual predators, and a long list of additional accomplishments."
This is a test of Paxton's political clout following his acquittal at the impeachment trial.
Paxton still faces an ongoing federal investigation and a trial on state securities fraud charges.
He has denied any wrongdoing.
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