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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Friday jumped into the hotly contested Republican primary for Senate District 8, endorsing Angela Paxton over Phillip Huffines.
In backing Paxton, the wife of Attorney General Ken Paxton, Patrick, who oversees the Texas Senate in his role as lieutenant governor, said he had initially chose to remain neutral in the race. However, Patrick said in a video, "when I saw the personal attacks launched against Angela Paxton, I couldn’t remain on the sidelines any longer."
"Angela Paxton has been a friend for years, and I can tell you this: Everyone who knows her agrees that she's a dynamic conservative leader and a person of integrity deeply rooted in her Christian faith," Patrick added.
In recent days, Huffines — the twin brother of state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas — has been attacking both Paxtons, alleging they have used public service to personally enrich themselves. That line of attack is the subject of a new TV ad from Huffines, which notes how Ken Paxton's business interests have grown since he became an elected official — and how he recently guaranteed a $2 million loan to his wife's campaign.
"Public service pays surprisingly well for Ken and Angela Paxton," a narrator says at the end of the commercial.
Huffines, who is also the former chairman of the Dallas County GOP, and Paxton are vying to replace state Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, who's running for an open seat in Congress. The SD-8 race is the only open-seat Senate contest in Texas this year.
Responding to Patrick's endorsement, Huffines' campaign said it too has been the subject of personal attacks.
"Much like Dan Patrick, we are disappointed in the personal attacks that Angela Paxton has initiated for months in this race. Going so far as to question Phillip's pro-life beliefs," Huffines spokesman Matt Langston said in a statement. "Phillip has worked with the Lt. Governor for many years on conservative causes and to help elect conservative candidates across the state. Phillip Huffines is a personal friend of the Lt. Governor, and he will work closely with him in the Texas Senate."
The statement alludes to the heat that Huffines, a prolific GOP donor, has taken from Paxton in the race for giving to a small number of Democrats over the years. She sought to tie him to "pro-abortion Democrats" when the issue first spilled into public view last month, and her campaign more recently launched a TV ad claiming Huffines is running a negative campaign "to hide his liberal donations."