It was going to be one North Texan or the other. State Sen. Ken Paxton of McKinney beat longtime Dallas State Rep. Dan Branch in a landslide in the Republican attorney general runoff.
With tea party support, Paxton turned an 11-point primary lead into a 28-point landslide in Tuesday’s runoff. The soft-spoken candidate smiled broadly as he claimed victory. At Tuesday's party in Frisco, Paxton thanked his family and many grassroots volunteers who helped him.
“Tonight Texans have made their voice heard loud and clear: They want an attorney general who’ll defend our constitution and fight to restore the meaning of the 10th amendment so that states can govern free from oppressive intrusion from the federal government,” Paxton said.
Paxton called himself the real conservative in the race, saying he wants Obamacare out of Texas, gun rights and religious freedoms protected, and the border secured.
“Liberty, freedom, and Texas values are the real winners tonight. We are locked in a struggle for the future of our families and our country," Paxton said.
Paxton praised Branch for serving the state 12 years.
Branch wished Paxton had agreed to debate him in the final weeks of the race.
“It was a little bit difficult under the circumstances because I didn’t have an opponent that was coming out to have a discussion of the issues ... but we accept the result.”
During the runoff, Paxton was cited for a state securities violation, paid a $1,000 fine, and stopped appearing with Branch at candidate forums. It didn’t hurt his race. State Rep. Van Taylor, who backs Paxton, doesn’t think it’ll hurt him this fall either.
“I think the Republican primary voters looked at that and decided it was a non-factor," Taylor said. "You’ve already had hundreds of thousands of Texans look at that, evaluate it and say it doesn’t matter, we want the conservative.”
Paxton faces Democrat Sam Houston in the November race for attorney general.