Subscribe to The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to date on the most essential news in Texas.
Attorney General Ken Paxton has just gotten another Republican primary challenger, but this time it’s someone who has been close to him for years: State Representative Matt Krause.
The Fort Worth MP and founding member of the House Freedom Caucus says he presents himself as the “faithful conservative fighter,” hoping to bring a conservative ideology similar to the position Paxton is known for, but without the legal issues that they have been chasing him most of the time in office.
“I think Texas needs and wants an attorney general who can get to work,” Krause said in an interview with The Texas Tribune.
As he seeks a third term next year, Paxton has had to contend with a charge of securities fraud dating back to his first months as attorney general in 2015. More recently, he has been investigated by the FBI for allegations of his own former deputies he mistreated. his office to benefit a wealthy donor. He has denied the offense in both cases.
Krause is the third serious opponent to announce against Paxton. The field already includes Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Eva Guzman, the former Texas Supreme Court justice.
Krause said he “is not sure any of them can win a primary.”
But the most notable aspect of his candidacy may be that, unlike Bush and Guzman, Krause has been a friend of Paxton and a political ally. They acted together in the legislature between 2013 and 15, and Krause supported Paxton in early 2014 for the attorney general.
Krause acknowledged that he and Paxton “have been close for years.” But Krause said he finally decided to run because he believes the state needs a attorney general who can do the job without distraction, especially when Texas is fighting the federal government under President Joe Biden.
“It was a difficult part of the conversation,” Krause said of his relationship with Paxton, adding that he contacted the headline in advance to notify him of his plans.
Paxton responded to the Krause campaign announcement with a statement announcing his tenure and reminding voters that he had been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
“As conservative values endorsed by President Trump, I am proud of my track record of defending and defeating the Biden Administration repeatedly,” Paxton said. “I maintain my history and values and ask every voter to join President Trump to defend a stronger and safer Texas.”
Krause was a skeptic of Paxton’s accusation when it aired in 2015, suggesting he might have a political motivation. Krause said in the interview that he has been consistent in saying he wants to let the case unfold in the courts and he still believes it. On the other hand, he declined to talk in more detail about Paxton’s legal issues, saying that “it will focus much more on what our campaign brings than what other campaigns lack.”
Krause enters a primary that has been underway for months. Bush announced it in early June and Guzman announced it later that month.
Since then, Bush has led the main field in fundraising, grossing at least $ 2.4 million. Paxton has raised at least $ 1.9 million over the same period and Guzman has raised at least $ 1.2 million.
The most pressing issue of the primaries was resolved in late July when Trump supported Paxton, despite Bush’s appeals to the former president for support.
Krause said Bush and Guzman spent the summer proving formidable alternatives to Paxton, “and we’re not seeing that.” Even if they have created fundraising momentum, Krause added, there is “no real connection” with grassroots Conservative voters.
“It was after both challenges had come in that I really started getting those calls,” asking me to consider running, Krause said.
Bush tried to show popular support on Wednesday by announcing a coalition called Texans for George P. with more than 100 founding members.
“Everyone agrees that Ken Paxton is corrupt,” Bush said in a statement in response to Krause’s candidacy. “The difference is that I’m the only candidate in this race who has the ability to run a statewide campaign that attracts conservative voters from across the state.”
Like Bush, Guzman said Krause’s candidacy is more proof that the Texans are ready to move on from Paxton.
“It remains the fact that I am the only candidate in this race with the room experience needed to fight for our state, the integrity to restore the confidence of Texans in the Attorney General’s Office and the track record of winning total votes both in primaries and general elections, “Guzman said in a statement.
When it comes to catching up with his opponents in fundraising, Krause admitted that he may not be able to match them directly, but expressed optimism that he will be competitive. He had a little over $ 100,000 in campaign coffers in late June.
“While we don’t compete between dollars and dollars, I don’t think a grassroots campaign should always rely on that,” he said.
Krause has represented House District 93 in Fort Worth since 2013. It was one of the districts Democrats went to last year in their failed search for a lower house majority, and Krause won by a comfortable margin.
As an original member of the Freedom Caucus – and currently its secretary and treasurer – Krause has played a role in pushing his party to the right in recent years. During the most recent regular session, he was the author of legislation he did not pass that would have banned health care that states the gender of transgender children.
Prior to entering the House, Krause worked as a lawyer for Liberty Counsel, a religious freedom group. Since 2007 he has been licensed to practice law in Texas.
The Democratic side of the race has attracted at least two candidates: Joe Jaworski, Galveston’s lawyer and former mayor of the city, and Lee Merritt, the nationally known civil rights lawyer. Merritt was raising funds from either party in the latest campaign funding reports, and raised $ 285,000 from July 7 to August 6. The period covered the launch of the Merritt campaign, which was on July 13th.
Join us September 20-25 at Texas Tribune Festival 2021. Tickets are on sale now for this celebration of several days of great, bold ideas about politics, public policy, and news of the day, curated by the winners journalists from The Texas Tribune. Learn more.