Talk about divisions within a political party, let alone between that party and the other major governing organization.
Texas political observers were treated this past weekend to an up-close and personal look at how sharply divided the Texas Republican Party has become. A significant majority of GOP members in the Texas Legislature voted to impeach Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton on an array of ethical and criminal allegations.
Now comes the fight of Paxton’s political life as he now must stand trial in the GOP-dominated Texas Senate.
When will that trial occur? Beats the cornbread stuffing out of me!
The impeachment vote in the Texas House, frankly, astonished me. I was expecting a closer vote than what came out. The final tally was 121-23, meaning that most House Republicans voted to impeach Paxton. The Texas Tribune reported: About 70% of House Republicans voted Saturday to impeach — 60 of the 85 Republicans in the 150-seat chamber. That included a coalition of center-right and conservative Republicans who defied their party’s far right and heeded the call to protect the state from a public official who had abused his office and power for personal gain.
What does one draw from this stunning outcome? My take is that the Texas Republicans who occupy public office in the Legislature are weary of Paxton’s long list of legal skirmishes, either with the authorities who are probing his conduct or with Paxton seeking to raise hell with Democrats in high places.
The attorney general has done little more during his more than two terms in office than make a spectacle of himself. Thus, we might be witnessing serious fissures within the Texas Republican Party.
Gov. Greg Abbott, another Republican (of course!), needs to call the Texas Senate back to work in advance of the trial that will commence in that legislative chamber. One of the senators who will report for duty is Angela Paxton, the attorney general’s wife. Your blogger (me!) has called already for Sen. Paxton to recuse herself. I hope she heeds my unsolicited advice.
None of that will lessen the divide that will play out as the Senate hears evidence gathered by House Republican investigators into the slew of allegations that have piled up around the attorney general.
As a Texan who is not affiliated with the Republican Party, I am watching all this with a healthy dose of bemusement.
It makes me wonder out loud if Republicans in this state are as incompetent at governing as their national colleagues who gathered at the start of the year and burned through 15 ballots just to elect a speaker of the House.