Updated Mar 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to face George P. Bush in runoff

George P. Bush and Ken Paxton

George P. Bush, left, will square off against Ken Paxton in a Republican runoff for Texas attorney general. Photos: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Hannah Gaber/USA Today

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is headed to a runoff against the scion of the Bush family on a night when other statewide Republican incumbents cruised to big victories.

Driving the news: With nearly all the ballots counted, Paxton, mired in corruption scandals, had just shy of 43% of the vote.

  • Having failed to clear 50%, he will end up in a runoff against Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who held nearly 23% of the vote in a four-person race.
  • By squeezing into the runoff, Bush breathes new life into the fabled Texas political name and sets up a barn-burner of a race.

Why it matters: No attorney general had wrapped themselves more tightly to former President Trump than Paxton, who filed lawsuits after the 2020 election arguing that other states' results should be thrown out.

  • Paxton, along with Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, had won the endorsement of Trump.

The big picture: The Texas primary was the first big midterm test of the ex-president's clout within the GOP since the Jan. 6 insurrection.

  • Paxton's failure to win outright may say less about the limits of Trump's imprimatur and more about Republican distaste for a damaged candidate.
  • Abbott won his primary race; with more than three-quarters of the ballots counted, he had nearly 70% of the votes.
  • Similarly, Miller and Patrick had commanding leads even as ballots remained uncounted.

Our thought bubble: As of now, the Texas results suggest the 2024 GOP presidential nomination remains Trump's to lose.

  • "Big night in Texas!" Trump said late Tuesday. "All 33 candidates that were Trump endorsed have either won their primary election or are substantially leading in the case of a runoff."
  • On the other hand: Abbott's impressive showing sets him up for a 2024 national run should Trump opt out and should Abbott beat Beto O'Rouke in the Texas gubernatorial election.

What's next: The primary runoff is set for May 24.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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