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Primary Analysis: Paxton Endorsees Fall Short in Collin County

Attorney General Fails to Oust Lawmakers Representing His Home County

In last week’s Republican primary election, many observers looked to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s home base of Collin County to gauge Paxton’s political support. There, Paxton was heavily supporting challengers running against four incumbent members of the Texas House that had voted in favor of Paxton’s impeachment. 

Paxton is a longtime fixture in Collin County politics, having first been elected to a Texas House district in Collin County in 2002 and serving as a member of the McKinney City Council prior to his election to the legislature. Paxton’s wife, Angela Paxton, currently represents Texas Senate District 8, which includes much of Collin County.

Despite significant efforts by Paxton and his allies to defeat these lawmakers, including a countywide pre-election rally, three of those incumbent lawmakers were re-elected by substantial margins. A fourth targeted incumbent was forced into a runoff in a race centered mainly around criminal charges to which the incumbent pled no contest shortly before the election.

In House District 67, incumbent Jeff Leach was challenged by former Allen city councilman Daren Meis. Leach defeated Meis by a 65-35 margin. This race was a top priority for Paxton’s allies in Collin County, as Leach was an impeachment manager during Paxton’s impeachment trial. Meis’ most significant sources of campaign funding were a $125,000 personal loan and $45,000 from the Texans United for a Conservative Majority PAC.

Leach also serves as Chairman of the Texas House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence, which has jurisdiction over the Office of the Attorney General. Paxton has declined invitations from Leach to testify in front of his Committee, a fact that Leach has pointed out on social media. 

In a tweet dated November 14, 2023, Leach wrote, “Ken – in the interest of transparency — I look forward to you appearing before the Texas House Judiciary Committee very soon to discuss the operations of the OAG. We have legislative jurisdiction over your agency. We’ve invited you to testify for years and yet you haven’t appeared a single time. So — why don’t you give me 3 dates that work for you? I’ll pick the best one and will convene my Committee for a public hearing. Again, in the interest of transparency.”

Incumbent Matt Shaheen defeated his challenger for Texas House District 66, Plano businessman Wayne Richard, by a 64-36 margin. Richard, who loaned his campaign $100,000, is well known in Collin County political circles from his previous campaigns for State Representative. Richard made his support of Paxton a focal point of his campaign against Shaheen. 

In the race for Texas House District 89, incumbent state representative Candy Noble defeated her opponent, former Collin County Republican Party Chairman Abraham George, by a 53-47 margin. George’s most significant sources of campaign funding were a $25,000 personal loan and over $58,000 from the Texans United for a Conservative Majority PAC.

During the campaign, George and his supporters were accused of engaging in illegal and deceptive conduct. George filed several campaign finance reports late in violation of the Texas Election Code, and voters in the district reported receiving illegal pre-recorded messages supporting George on their cell phones. 

Additionally, Brad Johnson of the Texan reported that Republican voters in House District 89 received text messages on election day claiming that Noble had worked with Democrats to kill Republican bills. The text message, which did not disclose who paid for or was responsible for the message, read, “Fellow Democrats: TODAY is open Primary. Vote Republican Candy Noble. She has helped us stop So many Republican bills. We need her!”

Noble is a longtime conservative activist in Collin County who served on the State Republican Executive Committee before her election to the Texas House. 

State Representative Frederick Frazier, who represents Texas House District 61, will face businesswoman Keresa Richardson in a runoff. Richardson led a field of three candidates with 40%, with Frazier receiving 32%. A third candidate, Chuck Branch, received 28%. 

Although Paxton had issued a dual endorsement of Richardson and Branch, criminal issues surrounding Frazier dominated the race. In December, Frazier pled no contest to Class A misdemeanor charges of impersonating a public servant and a Class C misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. Frazier’s criminal charges arose out of his 2022 Republican primary campaign for the Texas House, where he was accused of impersonating a code compliance officer in an attempt to have signs for his primary opponent taken down, in addition to taking down his opponent’s sign himself. 

Frazier, who worked as a police officer with the Dallas Police Department, retired in lieu of termination with a dishonorable discharge due to the criminal charges against him. 

Paxton’s endorsement also failed to carry the day for a State Senate candidate seeking to represent part of Collin County. Dr. Carrie de Moor, who Paxton endorsed, earned just 18% in a four-way race for State Senate District 30. An open seat created by the retirement of State Senator Drew Springer, the May runoff will feature former Denton County Republican Party Chairman Brent Hagenbuch and attorney Jace Yarbrough. Hagenbuch led the field of candidates with 36%, followed by 34% for Yarbrough. A fourth candidate, Cody Clark, earned 12%. 

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