Gaming the Paxton Impeachment

Dr. Malcolm Cross

The sudden and overwhelming vote by the Texas House of Representatives to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton and thereby temporarily suspend him from office, and the numerous charges of alleged wrongdoing brought against him make one wonder how he can escape conviction in the Senate and thus permanent removal from office.  Donald Trump may well hold the key to Paxton’s survival in office.

The Texas impeachment process requires a majority vote in the 150-member state House of Representatives to bring charges against an official and thereby temporarily remove him from office, a trial before the 31-member state Senate, and a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate to convict and permanently remove the official from his position.  The Texas impeachment process is summarized by many sources, including  This site also itemizes the 20 specific charges made against Ken Paxton.  The report of the House committee on which the charges are based can be found at:

The vote in the House to impeach Paxton was overwhelming:  121 supported impeachment, while only 23 voted no.  Impeachment supporters included a majority of all House Republicans as well as every Democrat present and voting.  

Paxton will need the support of 11 out of 31 Senators to avoid conviction and removal.  Currently, 19 Senators are Republicans while 12 are Democrats.  It is expected that all the Democrats will vote to remove him. Whether 11 Republicans will support him and vote to keep him in office remains to be seen.

So far, the fiercest criticisms of Paxton’s impeachment have come from rank-and-file Republican activists, especially those who remain supporters of former President Donald Trump.  They charge that Paxton is being persecuted solely because of his conservativism and work on behalf on behalf of Trump.   After all, Paxton, a long-time Trump supporter himself, filed a lawsuit to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and restore Trump to power.  Now Trump is returning the favor by vigorously supporting Paxton and doing his best to whip up grass-roots support for the embattled Attorney General.  No doubt Paxton and his allies hope that with strong-enough support for Paxton at the grassroots, enough Senators may balk at removing him, no matter how serious or well-proven those charges be.

Whether enough public support can be mustered for Paxton is questionable.  Some commentators have noted that Paxton, in his quest for a third term as Attorney General, won only 43% of the vote in the 2022 Republican primary.  But his vote, while less than a majority, was 20 points better than that won by George P. Bush, his closest competitor.  And in the runoff, Paxton went on to win 68% of the vote to Bush’s 32%, before moving on to the general election where he secured his third term in office.  Obviously, no matter what Paxton’s critics say, Paxton’s electoral triumphs show that despite all the accusations of malfeasance in office levied against him since at least 2014 he retains enough public support to give him hope of survival, especially with Trump’s help.

But what of the actual charges themselves?  What impact will a fill and frank airing of the impeachment counts have on the degree of support from Paxton’s supporters?  And if Trump’s and Paxton’s mutual supporters remain in Paxton’s corner no matter how serious the charges may be, what impact will their support for Paxton have on how the Senate votes?  Nobody yet knows.  We can only be certain that unless Ken Paxton chooses to resign rather than fight, we will all be witness to a long, drawn-out, and bitter spectacle to come.

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

1 Comment

  1. It doesn’t matter, the republican party is the Orwellian party we was warned of. They have destroyed our democracy and there is no way to fix it. The American experiment is over. The republican party has chosen fascism.

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