In comparison to the Lt. Governor’s race, the Attorney General’s race is relatively straightforward: There’s a conservative favorite (State Senator Ken Paxton), the well-funded big business republican (State Senator Dan Branch), and a longshot (Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman). A recent poll shows Branch at 42%, Paxton at 38%, and Smitherman a distant third at 20%. But the further down the ballot you get, the less accurate polls tend to be, so take that with a grain of salt.
Ken Paxton is a solid conservative that the majority of movement conservatives in the state have gotten behind (I’d guess that support is running about 85% among state conservatives compared to 15% for Smitherman). He’s also racked up an impressive list of conservative endorsements, including Texans for Fiscal Responsibility,
And while Paxton hasn’t been formally endorsed by Ted Cruz, he is getting a lot of mileage out of the Cruz quote that he’s “a tireless conservative warrior.”
By contrast, I haven’t heard a single conservative say they’re supporting state Representative Dan Branch, who is perceived as a RINO in the David Dewhurst mold (without the record of achievement) and an ally of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. The representative of tony Highland Park, “his main support base appears to be establishment Republicans.” He’s a business favorite and has tapped extensive fundraising resources in the Metroplex. His attempt to rebrand himself as a Tea Party conservative is pretty laughable: Says the Houston Chronicle editorial board:
a respected GOP state representative from Dallas whose moderate positions and pragmatic approaches to governance frequently align with those of Speaker Joe Straus. Running for attorney general, Branch is portraying himself as the most conservative candidate in the race (a laughable claim), a raging anti-Obaman, a tea-party firebrand and an anti-abortion crusader. We haven’t seen such an extreme re-branding effort since the late Phyllis Diller’s plastic surgeries.
And that’s from the MSM. Most conservative activists I’ve talked too are considerably less kind…
A Branch ad:
A lot of conservatives supported Barry Smitherman‘s run for Railroad Commissioner, but support for his Attorney General run is pretty thin on the ground (David Bellow and some pro-life endorsements being notable exceptions). Red State’s Erick Erickson goes so far as to call Smitherman “an establishment tool.” I think that rather overstates things, but there’s a lot of sentiment that Smitherman has overstated his resume as a Harris County prosecutor, and has tried to move up the statewide ladder too far, too fast, with too thin a resume.
A Smitherman ad:
Whoever wins the Republican nomination will face (I kid you not) Sam Houston (a trial lawyer unrelated to the hero of San Jacinto, who lost a 2008 Supreme Court race) in the general election.
Some race tidbits:
Wrangling over an unsuccessful Ken Paxton investment.
Here’s Smitherman’s attack site against Paxton. While it’s not quite as weak tea as the Chinese lawsuit bit Dewhurst tried to use against Cruz, the bag has still been seeped two or three times…
The man Smitherman wants to succeed as Attorney General is less than thrilled at his criticism of the way the state child support division is run. “As attorney general, I’ve elevated the Texas Child Support Division to number one in the entire nation. Under my leadership we’ve collected more than $28 billion in child support, but we also have achieved one the highest rankings in the nation for efficiency.”
Back in 2010, Smitherman was a big fan of smart meters.
Smitherman pays a blogger covering the race for consulting services. (Just for the record, I ain’t been paid nothin by nobody for political blogging, unless you count free soda at pizza at Ted Cruz headquarters after I endorsed him…)
Evidently Smitherman’s position on the death penalty isn’t quite as unwavering as he would lead you to believe.
Branch gets endorsed by the Houston Chronicle.