Ken Paxton tells The New York Times he doesn’t support Greg Abbott for reelection — then tweets that he does

Attorney General Ken Paxton, left, and Gov. Greg Abbott. (Credit: The Texas Tribune)
Attorney General Ken Paxton, left, and Gov. Greg Abbott. (Credit: The Texas Tribune)

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a New York Times story published Tuesday that he does not support Gov. Greg Abbott, a fellow Republican, as Abbott runs for reelection, the latest — and most revealing — sign that some state GOP leaders are on a collision course ahead of the 2022 election.

“The way this typically works in a primary, is it’s kind of everybody running their own race,” Paxton told the Times. “I don’t think he supports me; I don’t support him.”

Within hours of the story’s publication, Paxton bashed it as “fake news” and insisted he supports Abbott. “He’s a great Governor and a Great Texan,” Paxton tweeted.

Abbott is up for a third term in 2022, and for months he has faced heat from some on his right, most notably over his response to the coronavirus pandemic. Paxton told the Times that he wished Abbott had reopened the state “a little bit earlier.”

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released Tuesday found that 43% of Texas voters said they approve of the job Abbott is doing, compared to 45% who said they disapprove. His approval rating was 77% among Republicans, a number that has slowly ticked down throughout the pandemic. It was 88% in April 2020.

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and Texas GOP Chairman Allen West have not ruled out challenging Abbott. Miller has also raised speculation that he could run against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. And Land Commissioner George P. Bush is looking at a bid against Paxton.