Mr. Paxton, a former state representative who cultivated the conservative grassroots of the Republican Party, was first elected attorney general in 2014. He promised to fight the Affordable Care Act and defend Texas’s voter identification law.
But he has spent nearly his entire time as attorney general stalked by accusations of misconduct, including a criminal indictment for securities fraud from 2015. The charges stem from accusations that Mr. Paxton failed to register as an investment adviser representative and misled investors by encouraging them to invest in a company, but not telling them he would be paid by the company. The case has yet to go to trial.
Last year, many of Mr. Paxton’s top aides, themselves staunch conservatives, turned whistle-blowers and accused him of bribery, abuse of power and other potential criminal acts in connection with an Austin real estate investor. Those accusations, made to the F.B.I., kicked off a federal inquiry that still hangs over Mr. Paxton’s head. He has denied wrongdoing in both cases.
Even so, Mr. Paxton won the Republican primary last month, handily defeating the land commissioner, George P. Bush, a member of the political dynasty. He did so partly by playing the politics of Texas correctly, which has been his great talent.
Mr. Paxton joined Mr. Trump in trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election, going so far as to sue states where Mr. Trump had lost for fraud. Mr. Paxton appeared with Mr. Trump in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, at a rally that drew thousands, some of whom went on to storm the U.S. Capitol. Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Paxton last year, helping to propel him past his scandals and through the Republican primary.
Mr. Paxton has echoed the former president in another way: by attacking tech companies. In 2020, Mr. Paxton’s office, joined by nine other states, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google. The lawsuit argued the internet giant had abused its control over the opaque system that delivers ads online.
After the Jan. 6 riot, Mr. Paxton sent investigative demands not only to Twitter, but also to Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, asking for details of its content moderation practices.