The Texas Senate on Tuesday easily dismissed a motion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawyers to throw out the charges against him.
The effort failed in a 6-24 vote, with just six of the Senate’s 18 Republicans siding with Paxton. State Sen. Angela Paxton, who is married to the attorney general, is not voting on any of the measures.
A separate motion to throw out evidence gathered before Paxton was inaugurated failed in a closer 8-22 vote. A majority was needed for passage.
To be acquitted at the end of the trial, Paxton will need 11 senators to vote against a guilty verdict. The Texas state Senate includes 12 Democrats and 18 Republicans not including Angela Paxton.
Those voting against the motions on Tuesday included several GOP senators targeted by the attorney general’s allies with a mixture of lobbying, advertising and not-so-veiled threats.
Paxton is facing 16 counts and must win an acquittal on all of them to keep his job.
In that context, the attorney general’s ability to get 8 votes on some of the motions to dismiss specific counts suggests that the has a fighting chance if attorneys can move three to five senators on each count to vote not guilty.
Paxton’s trial represents a civil war between members of the ruling GOP coalition — a fracture that appears to be widening.
Right-wing activist Jonathan Stickland, who runs the pro-Paxton Defend Texas Liberty PAC, threatened to go after six GOP senators: Kelly Hancock (North Richland Hills), Mayes Middleton (Galveston); Bryan Hughes (Mineola); Charles Schwertner (Georgetown); Drew Springer (Muenster).
On Tuesday only Hancock, from the Dallas Fort Worth area, voted to throw out the charges entirely.