Now, the state’s Democrats are gunning for Texas’ top lawyer.
Thursday, the Boot Texas Republicans Political Action Committee launched a campaign that is dead set on kicking Paxton out of office. Treasurer Zack Malitz said the PAC is raising money to aid Democratic efforts against the attorney general when he’s up for reelection in 2022.
“Someone who is corrupt and criminal should not be the top law enforcement official in Texas — at a basic level,” said Malitz, who also served as former Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s statewide field director during the 2018 U.S. Senate race.
As November’s general election proved, Texas is still a ruby-red state, but some political science experts believe that the needle is moving incrementally leftward. That shift, coupled with Paxton’s record, could be enough to push a Democratic candidate over the edge.
Paxton barely held onto his seat in 2018, earning 50.6% of the votes to his Democratic challenger’s 47%, according to the political website Ballotpedia.
The Boot Texas Republicans PAC will set up sturdy campaign infrastructure for future candidates running statewide, Malitz said. It will be a data-driven operation aiming to create small-dollar fundraising and volunteer bases for whoever Paxton’s Democratic opponent will be.
On top of Paxton’s legal woes, the attorney general failed his constituents when he tried to block local public health regulations in El Paso during the COVID-19 crisis, Malitz said.
Paxton isn’t focused on his basic duty of serving his Texas constituents, he added.
“Of course, [Paxton] is unfit to serve, given the legal problems that he’s facing,” Malitz said.
"[Paxton] is just unfit to hold any public office at this point." – Zack Malitz, Boot Texas Republicans PAC treasurer
The Boot Paxton campaign won’t be taking a position in terms of backing a particular candidate during the primaries, Malitz said. Rather, the PAC is focused on a general election effort and will put all its support behind whoever the eventual nominee is.
In July, Malitz also helped launch the Beat Abbott PAC, which is critical of the way Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has handled the coronavirus pandemic. Like Abbott, Paxton enjoys billionaire backers and a significant war chest, Malitz said. These PACs will help buy ads, develop fundraising and provide resources to future Democratic competitors.
Texas Democrats made a big play this election cycle to turn the Lone Star State blue, but that didn’t happen in November’s general election. One thing the liberals lacked was an inspiring statewide nominee, Malitz said.
Moving forward, the state’s Democrats need more hardworking and motivational candidates like O’Rourke to create grassroots fundraising and volunteer machines, Malitz said. The Boot Texas Republicans PAC will help to build up that kind of foundation.
Malitz is calling on Paxton to resign, although he admits he’s not optimistic that will happen. The attorney general would have already done so if he had “any integrity whatsoever.”
“Mostly, we just want to make the point that his failure is really that serious,” Malitz said. “That this goes beyond even a standard political disagreement. He’s just unfit to hold any public office at this point.”