Maybe Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is feeling the heat. Maybe he's just making sure to empty his campaign coffers ahead of the Nov. 6 general election, but, whatever the reason, Paxton has gone negative for the first time in his campaign against Democrat Justin Nelson.
In a 30-second spot uploaded to YouTube by the Texas Tribune, Paxton accuses Nelson of running a negative campaign to cover up his "extreme liberal agenda." That's about half-right. Nelson has gone negative in recent weeks, pressing hard to draw attention to Paxton's multiple felony indictments for securities fraud, among other indiscretions.
Nelson is by no means a liberal ideologue, however. He's promised to focus on issues like gerrymandering and ethics reform if elected, rather than the partisan red meat, like curtailing abortion and ending the Affordable Care Act, that's taken up so much of Paxton's time.
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“If you Google ‘desperate’, your results will look a lot like this ad. When you're indicted for fraud and facing a century behind bars, investigated for bribery and corruption and hiding from voters and the media, what do you do? If you’re Ken Paxton, you lie about your opponent. It's both predictable and pathetic," Nelson's campaign manager Margaret Justus said about the new ad. "It should be no surprise that a guy who swindled his friends out of hundreds of thousands of dollars is also willing to resort to bald-faced lying. Things like honesty and integrity mean nothing to indicted Ken Paxton.”
In 2017, the Kaufman County district attorney investigated whether contributions made to Paxton's legal defense funds amounted to bribery, before finding that the donations did not violate state law.
Throughout the 2018 campaign, Paxton has refused to debate Nelson or make appearances at events where he might be vulnerable to the press. According to the most recent polling in the race, that hasn't hurt his chances at being elected to a second term, however.
In a poll released Friday by the Texas Tribune, Paxton leads Nelson by 12 points, 48-36, with 6 percent of voters saying they'll vote for Libertarian candidate Michael Ray Harris and another 10 percent saying they support another candidate.