AUSTIN, Texas — Embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton faces yet another Republican challenger. This time, it is from a friend and former legislative colleague state Rep. Matt Krause. The Fort Worth Republican is a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Paxton is seeking a third term under a securities fraud indictment and another federal investigation for abuse of office. Some political experts say in some ways Krause is campaigning to the right of Paxton.
After a historic 87th legislative session for Republicans, Krause said he is most proud of securing $100 million for the state’s alternatives to abortion program.
“Pro-life issues, religious liberty issues, making sure critical race theory is not infiltrating our public schools, those are going to be important issues that we're going to tackle," Krause said.
He joins Land Commissioner George P. Bush, and former Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, who are also challenging Paxton. Krause has been an ally of Paxton's, but he told Capital Tonight he is concerned about the negative spotlight on the Office of the Texas Attorney General.
"It puts a cloud over the office. And I don't think that needs to be there, especially for the top law enforcer of the state," Krause said.
Paxton was the candidate who landed the coveted President Donald Trump endorsement.
“As the values conservative endorsed by President Trump, I am proud of my record standing up to and defeating the Biden Administration - repeatedly," Paxton said in a statement to Capital Tonight. "I stand by my record and values, and ask each voter to join President Trump in standing with me for a safer and stronger Texas.”
“He didn't have Trump's endorsement, so it will be interesting because the juxtaposition of morality may be in play here, because Krause has talked about that. Ken Paxton is damaged goods, essentially," said Jon Taylor, professor and chair of the Department of Police Science and Geography at University of Texas San Antonio.
Taylor believes the Democratic contenders should not be counted out. They are former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworksi and Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney known nationally for representing Black families killed by police.
“If Democrats are thinking about a race, where they need to put their time and effort at the possibility of winning statewide, it's probably the attorney general's race, especially if Ken Paxton wins the Republican nomination," Taylor said.
According to the most recent campaign finance reports, from July to August, Merritt raised more than $285,000, while Paxton raised about $39,000 during the same period.
"Krause is right to believe that Texans are ready to move on from Ken Paxton in the AG’s office, but we are not moving in the direction of another far-right, anti-woman, pro-pandemic, corporate pawn. Texas needs a people’s attorney that will fight for all Texans like our people-powered movement," Merritt said.
Texas Democrats are trying to find a path to statewide victory as Republicans duke it out for the primary position in the attorney general race.
“What you're getting with me, if I'm your next attorney general, is a faithful, conservative fighter. I make no apologies about that," Krause said.