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Rockwall Republican who voted to impeach Texas AG Ken Paxton faces opposition from own party

A man stands in a group of people looking up with a smile.
Juan Figueroa
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton looks up at the gallery during the first day of his impeachment trial in the Texas Senate chambers at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023. The Texas House, including a majority of its GOP members, voted to impeach Paxton for alleged corruption in May.

The Rockwall County Republican Party spoke out against Republican state Rep. Justin Holland this week over what it says are "votes and actions that are in direct opposition" to its platform.

In the latest showcase of party divisions ahead of the primary election, the Rockwall County GOPposted a statement to its social media alleging that the District 33 representative had “grown increasingly unresponsive to voters and the Republican Party" over the last two sessions.

"In doing so, he has insulted and belittled local Republican voters and your Rockwall County Republican Party," party leadership wrote.

Holland, who was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2017, will face two Republican challengers in the primary: former Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson and businessman Dennis London. The party's outspoken disapproval will mean more work ahead of the election in March, said Cal Jillson, political science professor at Southern Methodist University.

“While the party may come out against him, that's just a signal to Representative Holland that he better paddle harder if he intends to hold this seat,” Jillson said.

KERA News reached out to Holland’s campaign for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

The Rockwall County Republican Party pointed to Holland’s stances on a school voucher program and gun control and his vote to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton as actions he took during the 88th session that were directly opposed to the Republican Party.

Holland was one of 60 House Republicans who voted to impeach Paxton in May.

Holland’s district covers all of Rockwall County and a portion of Collin County, which has been credited as Paxton’s political stronghold. However, KERA previously reported that support for Paxton in Collin County has shown signs of division.

On Dec. 15, Paxton endorsed Pierson in the race for the Republican nomination to represent House District 33.

“He's trying to exact retribution on those Republicans in the Texas House that voted to impeach him," Jillson said, "particularly if they're from his own area, Collin County, and nearby, because he thought he deserved more loyalty from those local Republicans."

Paxton has also endorsed several candidates running against incumbents who voted to impeach him — and supporting candidates who did not.

This open opposition against a candidate is not unprecedented by any means, Jillson said. And while it is uncommon for leading politicians like Paxton to campaign against a member of their own party, is has become more common in recent election cycles and certainly during the Trump years, he said.

“That has made other leaders willing to go against elected members of their own party if they think they're not adhering as closely to the main issues that the party supports,” Jillson said.

Paxton is not the only leading politician weighing in on party candidates.

Gov. Greg Abbott has endorsed incumbents who voted in support of school vouchers during last year's legislative session and subsequent special sessions.

In a response to the Rockwall County GOP’s post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Abbott re-shared the statement and highlighted Holland’s opposition to school vouchers.

Holland was among 21 Republicans who voted to remove school vouchers from an education bill in November.

The primary election will determine whether Paxton and Abbott’s endorsements — or lack thereof — will hold any weight with local Republican voters.

Jillson said endorsing an opponent could push the incumbent to campaign harder than before to retain their seat.

“It is hard to unseat an incumbent if that incumbent is entrenched in their district,” he said. “If other local Republicans like them, it's hard for someone like [Paxton] to withhold an endorsement and endorse an incumbent opponent.”


Megan Cardona is a daily news reporter for KERA News. She was born and raised in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and previously worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.