AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is threatening retribution for the House Republicans who went against him on impeachment, in a post-acquittal media blitz on a variety of conservative talk shows.
Speaking with Dallas radio host Mark Davis, Paxton said he would “absolutely” support and fund primary challengers, emphasizing he will spend “a lot of time” in Beaumont, Kerrville and Collin County.
Beaumont is House Speaker Dade Phelan’s hometown and Kerrville is a town in Rep. Andrew Murr’s district — Murr chaired the House impeachment managers and also chairs the House General Investigating Committee, which started the impeachment process. Collin County is where Paxton resides and has built his political career, but is also home to several House Republicans who voted against him.
Paxton had a specific message for one of his former allies, Rep. Jeff Leach — who gave an emotional speech during closing arguments, asking senators to also consider making the same “difficult decision” he made when voting against his former mentor and friend.
“Jeff Leach, get ready,” Paxton told Davis.
Leach responded on social media by posting a viral video of high school football players singing “We Ready.”
Highlights from Paxton’s other interviews
Paxton’s radio interviews followed his first post-verdict appearance in an interview with Tucker Carlson, the conservative firebrand who once helmed Fox News as a primetime anchor. The attorney general told Carlson he feels “re-energized,” hinting at a possible 2026 run against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.
“Everything’s on the table for me,” Paxton told Carlson. “Somebody needs to step up and run against this guy.”
In an interview with Michael Quinn Sullivan, a publisher from the conservative outlet Texas Scorecard, Paxton claimed that one of the investigators from the Texas House General Investigating Committee told him that he felt pressured to impeach Paxton.
“I went from being the best Attorney General in history to having him impeach me because his career was threatened,” Paxton said to Sullivan.
Much of Paxton’s criticism was also directed towards Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, claiming Phelan had political motives to impeach him.
“The general message that Dade Phelan and his House Managers operated under was: ‘you do what we tell you to do, without any evidence, and then we’ll come up with a good reason for doing it later,’” said Paxton.
In a statement to Nexstar, Phelan did not name Paxton but noted that his team “aggressively campaigned” for GOP candidates in the 2022 cycle, vowing to amp up those efforts to support his members in 2024.
“Ahead of the 2022 elections, we recruited countless of conservatives to run for office, spent thousands of miles on the campaign trail and raised — as well as spent — more than any other Texas House speaker to re-elect incumbent GOP members and grow our ranks in the chamber,” Phelan said. “We will repeat that same success next year, with an emphasis on raising even more money and devoting even more resources to support Republicans members facing competitive primary, runoff and general election reelection campaigns.”
This is a developing story, check back for updates. Capitol Correspondent Monica Madden will have a full story on KXAN at 5 p.m.