The early campaign finance data could indicate trouble for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s reelection efforts in 2022. After an uncontested run in the 2018 Republican primary, the incumbent has already drawn two challengers in his bid for a third term. Both veterans of Texas state-level politics, the latest TEC reports reveal that those candidates are drawing away support that firmly backed Paxton during previous campaigns.
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who assumed statewide office alongside Paxton in 2014, is looking to oust the attorney general in a campaign effort that has already generated national headlines. Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman has also thrown her hat in the ring, resigning from her position on the state’s highest civil court in order to run in this competitive primary election.
With less than a year left until the scheduled Republican primary for 2022 — although this date is subject to change due to redistricting delays — the candidates are already staking their positions on the field through campaign contributions.
|Ken Paxton (Incumbent)||George P. Bush||Eva Guzman|
|Total Number of Donations||483||850||229|
|Average Donation Amount||$3,767.02||$2,663.69||$4,592.68|
|Top Individual Donor(s)||Douglas Scharbauer ($250,000)||H. Tripp Wommack III ($100,454)||Richard Weekley, Robert B. Rowling ($100,000)|
|Percentage from PACs/Entities||15%||9%||20%|
|Percentage from Individual Donors||85%||91%||80%|
George P. Bush outraised both Ken Paxton and Eva Guzman by a significant amount — over $400,000 ahead of Paxton and over $1 million ahead of Guzman. Bush also brought in the largest number of contributions overall, with 850 individuals and entities contributing to his campaign. With the lowest average donation amount, coming in at just over $2,663, Bush’s impressive numbers demonstrate a more robust support base than just one or two mega-donors. In the early race to drive momentum for the 2022 election, recording nearly double the donor base of the incumbent attorney general could indicate trouble for Paxton.
While Guzman trails the other candidates in total contributions and donor numbers, her first campaign finance report since declaring intent to run is still significant. With over $1 million in donations, the former Texas Supreme Court justice also has the greatest non-individual support. Guzman reported 20 percent of her contributions coming from entities, more than both of her opponents.
Interestingly, Richard Weekley, the founder and largest supporter of Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC has apparently switched allegiances from Paxton to Guzman. Since 2015, TLR has donated more than $1.2 million to Paxton’s campaigns, and Weekley has personally chipped in $115,000 to support Paxton. For the 2022 elections, however, Weekley is coming on strong for Guzman. TLR is Guzman’s largest overall donor with a $200,000 donation, and Weekley comes in second on Guzman’s donor list with a $100,000 donation. With big support numbers from both individuals and PACs jumping ship and backing his challengers, Paxton appears to have his work cut out for him to retain his seat for another term.
What the incumbent does have going for him is the sheer size of his war chest. Paxton has positioned himself well ahead of both of his opponents in terms of cash-on-hand, sitting on $6,839,400 at the end of June. The total reported by Paxton gives him an advantage of over $4 million against Bush and over $6 million against Guzman. With nearly a year to go until the 2022 Republican primary, there’s plenty of time — and funds — for the attorney general to rally voters to check his name down the ballot from the governor’s race.