As Donald Trump seeks to remain a kingmaker in Republican politics, the former President teased an upcoming endorsement in an important statewide race in Texas.
In a new statement to CNN on Tuesday, Trump said he will soon be endorsing for Texas attorney general ahead of next year’s GOP primary. The race will likely be between the incumbent, Ken Paxton, and current state land commissioner George P. Bush, who is expected to announce his challenge to Paxton as early as next week.
“I like them both very much. I’ll be making my endorsement and recommendation to the great people of Texas in the not-so-distant future. I told Texas that Sleepy Joe would be against guns, oil, and God, and I was right!” Trump said Tuesday.
The jockeying for Trump’s support is becoming standard practice in competitive Republican races.
In the crowded field for the GOP nomination in this year’s governor’s race in Virginia, for instance, multiple candidates positioned themselves as pro-Trump, including the eventual winner of the nomination, Glenn Youngkin. Virginia Democrats have since seized on the association, blasting the Republican nominee as “Glenn Trumpkin.”
As Texas’ attorney general, Paxton has been an ally of Trump’s, including in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Last December, Paxton launched an ill-fated lawsuit against several other states that voted for Democrat Joe Biden, seeking to invalidate more than 17 million ballots. The Supreme Court dismissed the suit later that month.
One person involved with Texas Republican politics told CNN that Trump was frustrated and disappointed with Paxton’s failed lawsuit.
Bush, meanwhile, appears to be seeking the Trump endorsement ahead of his expected entry into the attorney general race. On Monday, Bush tweeted a photo of himself talking on the phone.
“Great to speak with President Trump to discuss the future of Texas and how we are keeping up the fight to put America first. I appreciate the words of encouragement and support. Big things coming soon!” he wrote on Twitter.
The 45-year-old Bush has not yet announced his candidacy, though he has said he is considering it and may enter the race at a planned campaign rally next week. A spokesperson for Bush did not return a request for comment.
Despite Bush’s devotion to Trump, other members of his famous political family long have denounced the former President. Bush’s uncle and grandfather, former GOP Presidents George W. Bush and the late George H.W. Bush, distanced themselves from Trump. And after January 6, George W. Bush criticized the state of the Republican Party under Trump’s leadership as “isolationist, protectionist and, to a certain extent, nativist.”
But his nephew has taken a different tack as he seeks higher office as a Republican in Texas.
George P. Bush has been the Texas land commissioner since 2015 and was reelected in 2018. His father is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who was among the candidates Trump defeated in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. During the primaries, Jeb Bush called Trump a “chaos candidate” and continued to criticize him throughout his presidency. After his father left the 2016 race, though, the younger Bush campaigned on behalf of Trump and has embraced him ever since.
When he endorsed Trump for reelection in 2020, the younger Bush said the then-President was “the only thing standing between America and socialism” — an endorsement that earned Trump’s praise on Twitter at the time.
Paxton has also been a steadfast supporter of Trump, during and even after his presidency. In February, he tweeted a photo of himself and Trump on a golf course, calling him “my favorite president.”