DALLAS (CBS11) – As we enter the second week of early voting for the Texas primary, we continue to highlight some of the key races in North Texas.
CBS11 is profiling the GOP primary in the State Senate District 8 race between two powerful conservative brand names: Angela Paxton, whose husband is Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Phillip Huffines, the former Dallas County Republican Party Chairman, whose twin brother Don is a state senator in Dallas.
The war of words in TV attack ads erupted earlier this month and isn’t letting up.
Huffines questioned the $2 million loan guarantee Paxton’s campaign received from her husband’s campaign.
And Paxton accused Huffines of contributing to Democratic lawmakers’ campaigns.
Huffines rejects her criticism and says people know him as pro-life conservative. “I’ve been active in the Republican Party since I was a teenager. I’ve been a state delegate, a national delegate. As you know, I was chairman of one of the largest Republican county parties in the entire nation.”
Huffines lives in the Dallas County portion of the district. “It’s ridiculous. My roots run really deep here in Collin County. We’ve been right here in this area selling cars and trucks for over 90 years in the 1960’s, I grew up here on a little gravel road working cows and what not – that’s Midway Road.”
Huffines’ family owns a variety of car dealerships in Plano and McKinney.
He says his qualifications make a difference. “It’s really important that the next State Senator from SD 8 from this district be a businessman. See, I’m a business guy, not a politician, and I’ve signed thousands of paychecks, created hundreds of jobs, but most importantly, I know how to create results.”
Despite their back and forth attacks, both candidates agree on the top issues.
And Huffines says supporters have told him their priorities: “When you get to Austin, secure the border, and keep Texans safe. And they’re saying Phillip, while you’re down there do something about property taxes. They go up every single year. Also, fix school funding. We want to make sure the tax money here in Collin County remains here in Collin County.”
Huffines didn’t mention the bathroom privacy bill as a top priority, but he says students need to use the appropriate bathrooms and locker rooms. “I think it’s very important that our teenage boys are not in the same locker rooms with our young ladies, 12 and 13 years old. We’ve got to make sure that does not happen.”
If elected, Huffines says he won’t accept a state salary. “Not only will I not take a state salary, I won’t take the so-called hidden pension plan that exists for elected officials. Because I don’t work for the state. I work for the voter.”
The district is largely Republican, so analysts believe whoever wins the primary, will become the new state senator.
Huffines says if he takes office, he and his twin brother, Don will compete with each other to see who is more conservative of the two.
While the Paxton campaign released an internal poll showing her leaping ahead of Huffines by 15 points this month, those with knowledge of this race believe it has already tightened because of the ongoing negative ad campaigns and will remain tight headed into next Tuesday’s primary.
SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson says he would give Paxton the edge, but he says he wouldn’t bet the family farm on it.