Poll Shows GOP Voters Want Paxton Out

Conservative group behind poll asking Republicans if Paxton should resign

Ken Paxton
Ken Paxton (Photo by Jana Birchum)

After weeks of Democrats calling for Attorney General Ken Paxton to quit, new polling shows that a majority of Republicans believe the state's embattled top lawyer should resign.

In an Aug. 15 survey of 976 likely Republican primary voters by Florida-based Gravis Mar­ket­ing, 62% said they thought he should resign while he faces three felony indictments. What's worse is that only 78% of people polled were aware of the charges. Paxton has even lost the support of his core base, with 53% of self-identified Tea Partiers saying he needs to go. Even with the poll's margin of error of +/- 3%, that means half of the Texas GOP's most fervent radicals want him gone.

While an ongoing investigation in no way legally forces Paxton to quit, it makes his position increasingly politically untenable. So far, the closest to strongly-worded support has come from Gov. Greg Abbott who, when asked directly about the poll, diplomatically said that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

The cherry on top of this bad-news dessert may be who actually commissioned the poll: the avowedly conservative Texas Bipartisan Justice Committee, which has a long reputation as a kingmaker group in judicial races. The fact that they're asking GOP voters about turning their backs on Paxton is telling.

And if that wasn't bad enough, it's worth noting that the survey was held before the Houston Chronicle raised concerns about how Paxton discharged his duties as probate lawyer for the estate of the late Tanner Hunt, son of oil tycoon Ryan Hunt. Even though he was supposed to act in the best interests of the younger Hunt's two daughters, Paxton negotiated a deal that got them just a fraction of their father's $2 million trust fund, and empowered Paxton to invest for them. Con­sidering the current allegations about felonious investments, that could seem an unwise path; fortunately, the girls' mother, Crystal VanAus­dal, rejected Paxton's draft, and negotiated a better deal herself.

Paxton's next public appearance will be on Aug. 27, when he has been ordered to appear before Tarrant County District Judge George Gallagher for his arraignment hearing on the existing felony charges. Then he may have to zip down to San Antonio, as his office is still fighting off a potential contempt of court hearing before U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, over Texas' refusal to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling. The state reversed that position, and is now adhering to the law, but that doesn't mean Paxton is out of the woods yet.

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