As candidates continue to announce their campaigns in the Texas Legislature, a new challenger has emerged against one of the members leading the impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Wes Virdell, a small business owner and veteran, announced this week he will be entering the race to challenge State Rep. Andrew Murr (R–Junction) in the upcoming Republican primary election. 

Murr, who chairs the House General Investigating Committee, has recently come under fire for leading the impeachment of Paxton, which has been condemned by the Republican Party of Texas, U.S. Sen Ted Cruz, former President Donald Trump, and others. 

After the most recent session, Murr earned a 54 on Texans for Fiscal Responsibility’s Index. According to Transparency USA’s financial summary, House Speaker Dade Phelan has been a top contributor to Murr, donating more than $50,000.

Virdell, who is currently the Texas state director for Gun Owners of America, says he is running because he believes Murr does not work for his constituents but for Austin lobbyists and big city business interests. 

“If it wasn’t evident before, this session sealed it—Murr will listen to everyone but the people of this district. I’ve worked hard all my life to build a successful business, to serve my country, to support my family, and to protect our fundamental freedoms. Now while Murr is hard at work for the Austin lobbyists and big city business interests, I’ll get to work fighting for you,” explained Virdell. 

Pro-life advocate Mark Lee Dickson told Texas Scorecard he is endorsing Virdell because Murr’s recent actions have only proven that District 53 needs new leadership.

“In light of recent events, it is now more clear than ever that District 53 needs new leadership. Representative Murr, who has led the charge in the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton, has accomplished what the Biden administration had only dreamed of doing: sidelining Texas’ greatest defender. This is unacceptable and a great embarrassment to the State of Texas,” said Dickson. “Texas needs a state representative in District 53 who is unable to be praised by an administration intent on undermining Texas values. Texas needs Wes Virdell representing District 53 in Austin, Texas.”

Virdell previously challenged Murr in 2022, garnering 37 percent of the vote against the incumbent. Murr’s campaign has not responded to a request for comment.

The Republican primary election is slated to take place on March 5, 2024.

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.