We’ve created the Ken Paxton Watch to help readers track how the attorney general is using his office, his bully pulpit, and whatever the elements of his next scandal may be.

Texas has had six attorneys general since 1979. For many of them, the role has been a springboard to bigger things. Greg Abbott served in the position from 2002 to 2015 before he pursued the opportunity to run for governor; before him, John Cornyn held the role from 1999 to 2002, at which point he ran for the United States Senate and won. 

What does that brief history lesson mean for Ken Paxton? On Wednesday, those who’ve speculated that Paxton might have his sights set on Cornyn’s job got the clearest sign yet that they’re on the attorney general’s wavelength. That evening, Paxton tweeted a response to a Dallas Morning News reporter who suggested that Cornyn is angling to replace Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader in November, when the Kentucky congressman has said he will step down as leader of his caucus. Paxton’s message was, uh, not particularly friendly to his senator. 

The extent to which Paxton’s tweet is accurate is, at best, debatable. Cornyn has been a reliable foot soldier of the former president. During the Trump administration, Cornyn received a “Trump score” of 92.2 from the political data website FiveThirtyEight, placing him among the top ten senators in terms of how often they voted in line with the former president. Notably, he rated Trumpier than his junior counterpart, “Beautiful” Ted Cruz. Cornyn also endorsed Trump for the presidency back in January. Maybe Paxton meant that Cornyn just has, like, anti-Trump vibes? 

Does Paxton have a point on guns? Cornyn boasts an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association, but his popularity among Texans slid after he negotiated a compromise on gun regulation in the wake of the Uvalde shooting. That compromise was modest in its scope—it closed the “boyfriend loophole” and added additional background check provisions for gun buyers under 21. But when compared to Paxton, who said guns were “not the right focus” after Uvalde, Cornyn might be the “anti-gun” politician among the two. 

And Paxton very clearly wants Texans to compare Cornyn’s right-wing bona fides against his own. “Republicans deserve better in their next leader” could plausibly mean that Paxton wants to see, say, South Dakota’s John Thune (Trump score: 91.4) or Wyoming’s John Barrasso (89.1) lead his party in the Senate, but the second part of his post—that “Texans deserve another conservative Senator” implies that he may have someone specific in mind. Polling from the Paxton-friendly Defend Texas Liberty PAC asked GOP voters last year if they’d prefer the current attorney general to Cornyn and found that Paxton had a fourteen-point lead on Big John. 

That’s how Cornyn took Wednesday’s tweet, anyway. Cornyn, once the most prolific user of the social media platform in all of Congress, was quick to fire back at the beleaguered attorney general, responding with a terse “Hard to run from prison, Ken,” in classic Cornyn fashion. Bazinga! 

Cornyn’s response likely refers to Paxton’s forthcoming criminal trial concerning two felony securities fraud charges, which is expected to begin—after nearly a decade of delays—in April. He also could be referring to corruption allegations that the Justice Department is investigating related to Paxton’s relationship with federally indicted Austin real estate magnate Nate Paul. (Both Paul and Paxton maintain their innocence.) It’s unlikely Cornyn was nodding to the State Bar of Texas complaint that could revoke Paxton’s law license, as that allegation doesn’t include prison time.

All of this speaks to the incredibly vast range of possibilities for Paxton’s future. He could become U.S. attorney general in a Trump administration, or he could challenge Cornyn in a primary and get elected to the United States Senate. He could run for president in 2028 and win, or he could gaze longingly into the multiverse, wishing he was doing any of those things, while pumping iron in the prison yard. Thus far, the attorney general has avoided consequences for any of the things he’s been accused of—if he continues to do so, John Cornyn’s job seems to be where his eye has landed.