Top Two Texas Leaders Mum on Paxton Woes
as Right Blames the House for Dying Priorities

Texas Conservative Priorities Report Card

Capitol Inside
May 25, 2023

The prospects for Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment in the Texas House before the regular session ends on Monday have triggered a silence that's deafening among the state's two most powerful leaders who would become major players in such an event if and when it ever occurs.

While staunch conservatives in the Legislature and prominent activists agree wholeheartedly with Paxton's branding of the House as a graveyard for major priorities in 2023, there's been no rush up to now to defend the embattled state lawyer on the far right in the midst of accusations that a House committee lodged against him on Wednesday.

Governor Greg Abbott has held his tongue on Paxton's plight since a House General Investigating Committee's probe into his midconduct allegations became public this week. But the House investigation has spurred intense speculation in Capitol circles on who Abbott's choice for a replacement as attorney general if Paxton gets the boot.

Such a development would be a first in Texas where James "Pa" Ferguson has been the only statewide leader to be removed from office since his impeachment in 1917. But William P. Hobby automatically ascended to the governor's office that year as the lieutenant governor at the time. Abbott in contrast would have his pick on a new AG - and it would be one of the most highly-coveted appointments in Texas history.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has remained mum on the House case against Paxton as a consequence of his role as the Texas Senate president who would have the task of presiding over a trial if the House voted to impeach with a two-thirds vote. Patrick has been associated with Paxton more than any other major Texas leaders by virtue of the fact that they've been the two most popular with base conservatives. Patrick and Paxton have been Donald Trump's two top allies in the Lone Star State.

Paxton sought to invalidate the American election in 2020 at the U.S. Supreme Court in a failed bid on Trump's behalf. The AG and his wife - GOP State Senator Angela Paxton of McKinney - appeared at the rally that triggered the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The State Bar of Texas has investigated Paxton for his bid to cancel the vote.

But there'd been no apparent words of support from the former president for his beleaguered Texas confidant by Thursday afternoon - no outcries or outpourings of support for Paxton among fellow elected officials or grassroots conservatives. Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi - a longtime Paxton ally who served four years in the state House - retweeted statements from the AG but declined to come to his aid in the face of unprecedented adversity.

"The House should thoroughly investigate all appearances of impropriety and apply the rules fairly and evenly," Rinaldi said in tweet on Wednesday. "We will withhold further comment until the factual record is more fully developed."

But Republicans on the right are on the same page with the attorney general's assessment of the House's performance on conservative priorities in the regular session that goes out of business on Monday.

"The liberal leadership of the Texas House has routinely killed conservative legislation including important bills that would help secure our border and protect the integrity of our elections," Paxton said in a Twitter post on Wednesday. "They have demonstrated nothing but contempt for the traditional values of conservative Texans."

Republican State Rep. Tony Tinderholt of Arlington offered a similar take on social media. "The cards were purposefully stacked against republicans as usual," Tinderholt tweeted. "We do it to ourselves. We control when bills move, what day they hit the floor and what happens while on the floor. Don’t let one Republican member tell you we ran out of time or we “almost” got that priority passed. This movie was already scripted, approved and cast with known outcomes before filming ever began today!"

Conservatives stepped up rhetorical attacks against GOP Speaker Dade Phelan as the alleged mastermind behind the conservative agenda's demantling in the House. But Paxton's claims on the speaker getting drunk on the job appeared to be fading into the background on Thursday as a result of its relevant insignificance compared to the gravity of the situation that's blowing up around the AG.

Paxton called for Phelan to resign on Wednesday - saying at one point that he hopes the speaker gets the help that he needs. Some Phelan's detractors on the right have seized on the presiding while intoxicated allegations as a target for barbs - but moreso as a punching bag for dead bills than the Paxton investigation.

But Phelan is in the driving seat on the Paxton probe - with the power to bring House members into a special session whenever he might see fit to initiate or to complete an impeachment process that has four days to get under way before the regular session shuts down. Abbott and Patrick could have key supporting parts eventually - and they will be compelled to comment publicly on the Paxton case at some point as result. Paxton could be helpless at this point beyond a bully pulpit that he stands to lose.

The progress report below shows conservative priorities that have passed or failed and those that are still alive in the legislative process in some or fashion. It's a mixed bag on paper with the potential to get worse for the right.


SB 14
Bill to ban gender-affirming medical treatment sent to Governor Greg Abbott on May 19
SB 12
Bill to ban drag shows with minors in the audience passed House on May 22
SB 15
Bill to ban transgender females in college sports passed House on May 18
SB 17
Amended bill to ban diversity, equity and inclusion offices in higher education passed House on May 22
SB 18
Amended bill to restrict tenure for professors at state universities passed House on May 23
Election Fraud
HB 1243
Bill to raise the punishment for illegal voting back to felony passed Senate on May 24
HB 800
Senate amended and passed HB 800 to increase felonies for human smuggling and stash houses on May 24
School Porn
HB 900
Bill to ban sexually explicit books in public school libraries passed Senate on May 23
Border Security
HB 7
Senate passed bill May 24 with amendment for Texas Border Force and increased smuggling penalties
SB 29
Local mandates ban passed House on May 23, Vaccine freedom act SB 177 dies in House without vote May 23
School Choice
SB 8
Compromise bill died in House Public Education Committee after Gov. Greg Abbott veto vow
Bail Reform
SB 1318 & SJR 44
Bill and constitutional amendment to strenghten bill laws died in the House on May 23 without vote
SB 1446
Bill to restrict  environment, social and governance policies died in the House on May 23 without vote
College CRT
SB 16
Bill to make illegal entry at border a criminal offense died in the House on May 23 without vote
Illegal Immigration
SB 2424
Bill to make illegal entry at border a criminal offense died in the House on May 23 without vote
Border Security
HB 20
Bill to create border protection unit died in the House after Democrac point of order sustained
District Attorneys
SB 20
Bill to allow DA removal died in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee without vote
SB 177
Bill to ban local mandates passed House on May 23, Covid vaccine freedom act in HB 81 dies without vote May 23
SJR 35
Proposal to require U.S. citizenship to vote fails in House on 88-0 vote on May 24 when 54 Dems present but not voting
Could Pass  





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