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Texas Rep. Andrew Murr, who led the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton earlier this year, announced Monday that he would not seek reelection.
Murr, a Republican from Junction in his fifth term, said a decade in Austin has kept him away too long from professional and family obligations at home, including four children ranging from 15 months to 15 years old.
“I’ve missed touchdowns, base hits, school field trips and summer field strips and summer fishing trips. I’ve missed birthdays, first steps and first words,” Murr said in a retirement letter to constituents. “I’ve put ranch work on hold, often to its own detriment, and now — quite literally — cows are calling me home.”
Murr, 46, also faced the prospect of a difficult reelection. After Paxton was acquitted at the conclusion of his impeachment trial in September, he vowed revenge on the House Republicans who had voted overwhelmingly to indict him in May.
None was more responsible for impeachment than Murr, who as chair of the House investigative committee ordered a secret probe into Paxton’s request that lawmakers appropriate $3.3 million to settle a lawsuit filed by four of the attorney general’s former deputies, who accused him of bribery and corruption. The resulting report, which became public in May during an explosive legislative hearing, corroborated what the whistleblowers had claimed.
The investigation thrust Murr, a mild-mannered country lawyer best known at the Capitol for advocating on rural issues and for his magnificently styled mustache, into the national spotlight.
In passionate floor speeches in the House and Senate, Murr risked his standing among Republicans by urging the conviction of one of the party’s most powerful members, a statewide elected official.
“Unlike the public servants here today, (Paxton) has no regard for the principles of honor and integrity,” Murr told senators on the trial’s closing day. “He has betrayed us and the people of Texas, and if he is given the opportunity he will continue to abuse the power given to him.”
Senators disagreed, finding Paxton not guilty of 16 articles and dismissing four others. Paxton decried the “sham impeachment” and said he would support primary challengers to House members who supported his ouster. In October he endorsed seven challengers including Wes Virdell, who is running in Murr’s District 53.
Murr also was likely to face heat in the GOP primary for his vote against allowing state dollars to be used to help pay for students’ private school tuition. He was one of 21 Republicans, many of them from rural areas, to vote to strip Gov. Greg Abbott’s top legislative priority from a massive school finance bill last week.
Murr told the Texas Tribune that he has no regrets about his role in the impeachment, and said in his retirement letter that “I prepared myself to endure the personal attacks, threats of political retribution and physical harm, and intimidation that come with holding a powerful person to account for his conduct.”
“I want to be very clear that these threats had no bearing on my decision to retire from the Texas House,” Murr continued.
Murr has spent most of his life in Junction, a town of 2,500 people on the banks of the Llano River. He previously served as Kimble County judge, a post several of his relatives have held. He runs a law practice across from the county courthouse. Murr's grandfather, Coke Stevenson, served as governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the Texas House in the mid-20th century.
As head of the House investigative committee, which before this year rarely exercised its broad oversight powers, Murr also led the effort to expel Rep. Bryan Slaton. A committee investigation found that the Royse City Republican had engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a female intern in his office.