Weatherford Democrat

March 12, 2014

King wants Branch to split

14 state reps ask AG candidate to withdraw from GOP runoff

Weatherford Democrat

— From Staff Reports

In an open letter to state representative and Republican candidate for Texas attorney general Dan Branch, 14 state representatives – including Phil King, of Weatherford – have asked him to withdraw from the May 27 primary runoff against State Sen. Ken Paxton.

In a three-way race for the party’s nomination, Paxton received 44.4 percent of the vote to 33.5 percent for Branch, while Barry Smitherman drew 22 percent of the statewide GOP vote.

All 14 of the state representatives co-signing the letter are said to be tea party members. The legislators whose names appear under the one-page letter along with King are Pat Fallon, Dan Flynn, Bryan Hughes, Jodie Laubenberg, Jeff Leach, Charles Perry, Scott Sanford, Matt Schaefer, Jonathan Stickland, Van Taylor, Steve Toth, James White and Bill Zedler.

The letter reads, in part: “As your colleagues in the Texas Legislature, today we call on you to respectfully consider withdrawing from the race for Texas Attorney General. Rather than moving forward with a campaign that will divide Texas Republicans, we hope upon careful reflection you will agree with us that moving forward with this continued campaign is not in the best interests of you, our party, or the state we know you dearly love.”

The letter suggests Branch’s withdrawal would help the party unite behind GOP gubernatorial candidate and current Attorney General Greg Abbott, who faces Democratic challenger Sen. Wendy Davis in November’s general elections.

“The millions of dollars that would be spent by your continued campaign characterized by negative ads aimed at Senator Paxton serves no legitimate or helpful purpose, especially when considering Senator Paxton’s strong support reflected in the Republican Primary Election last week,” the letter stated.

The missive pointed out that Paxton won 19 of the top 20 counties in Texas, and that Paxton won 50 of the top 75 counties, representing approximately 85 percent of the GOP vote.

“Your decision to withdraw would ensure the millions of dollars you would otherwise spend on negative ads aimed at Senator Paxton can instead be focused on the Democrat ticket, which all of us are committed to defeating in the general election in November,” the letter continued. “Those resources can also be used to fund the state party, underwrite get out the vote efforts, and fund viable Republicans in races all across the state.”

“Should you choose to do so, you will earn the lasting respect and admiration of Texans all across our state as we band together as Republicans and fight to Keep Texas Red!”

Branch’s campaign manager, Enrique Marquez, responded by saying Branch “will be the Republican nominee for attorney general.”