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Texas Matters: The Race For Texas Attorney General

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Spectrum News
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Spectrum News
Republican candidates for the attorney general nomination are asked to raise their hand if they recognize that President Biden won the 2020 presidential election. Land Commissioner George P. Bush, U.S. Rep Louie Gohmert and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman

Just days remain before the votes get counted for the political primaries. And while all races deserve interest, it’s the Republican contest for the Attorney General nomination that is drawing extra attention.

Incumbent Ken Paxton has drawn three serious challengers. Each is looking to drag Paxton into a run-off and each is looking to be that other candidate in the run-off. On Thursday night they met for a heated debate.

This was the latest of 10 debates for candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Attorney General, and once again the incumbent Ken Paxton is a no show.

“Ken, I know you’re watching and sitting there on your couch when are you going to come out of the shadows and stop your Joe Biden-style campaign, ” said Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush.

Bush is one of the three Republican challengers, along with Congressman Louie Gohmert and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.

The debate was hosted by Spectrum News – and a highlight was when the candidates were asked about the results of the 2020 presidential election.

A debate moderator asked, “Can we get a quick show of hands if you believe Joe Biden won the 2020 election?”

There was a pause. Then Bush raised his right hand to about shoulder height. Gohmert stood still and said, “I don’t know if he won or not”

Then there was a longer pause and it wasn’t clear if Guzman was raising her hand but she said, “It’s undetermined from my perspective but yes I’m raising my hand – he’s our president.”

Gohmert added, “No question about it. He’s the legitimate president.”

Latest polling shows that Bush is the most likely challenger to end up in a run-off with Paxton. That made him a target for Guzman who attacked Bush and repeatedly called him a liar.

“I don’t lie like George Bush,” she said.

Guzman said Bush is acting like he’s entitled to the AG office and said he didn’t have the legal expertise to be Attorney General since he allowed his law license to become inactive for 10 years

“It cost $5 a day to keep your law license active. That’s a choice he made, not to practice law,” Guzman said.

Bush responded, “She knows better. I went to Afghanistan to serve you in 2010 and since then I’ve been suing Joe Biden and Barack Obama as your land commissioner.”

Bush multiple times called Paxton the most corrupt politician in recent Texas history.

“When it comes to Ken Paxton let’s talk about his actions. He was gone during the winter storm and he refuses to disclose his texts, his emails, his phone calls. And he continues to evade grass roots conservatives,” Bush said.

Gohmert also kept Paxton in his crosshairs.

“We have an attorney general who instead of investigating crime, he’s now charged with committing them,” Gohmert said.

For the last six years Paxton has been under indictment for securities fraud. He is being investigated by the FBI for bribery and trading political favors to have an alleged mistress employed by an Austin developer. Paxton denies all wrong doing. But he didn’t do that on the debate stage in front of the TV cameras.

Aside from their personal attacks the three candidates were very much in agreement on conservative issues that Texas needs a Border Wall, that so called critical race theory is a threat to public school children and they all love Donald Trump but say his endorsement of Paxton isn’t that big of a deal.

“Texans are fiercely independent so they want to choose for themselves,” said Guzman.

“But when President Trump called me after I announced he said “I was told you definitely you were not running,” said Gohmert.

“I helped him in 2020 and I still support his ideas. They were good for Texas,” said Bush.

Another point they agree on is that, if Paxton is the party’s AG nominee in November that would be a tremendous opportunity for the Democrats. The last time he won reelection in 2018 it was with just a bit over 50% of the vote. And since then Paxton’s legal and personal problems have gotten worse.

Gohmert

Before the debate TPR was able to speak to Congressman Louie Gohmert about his decision to run for the GOP nomination for attorney general. Since 2005 Gohmert has represented the East Texas area — anchored in Tyler. He’s a been a consistent conservative voice in Congress — defending the insurgents of Jan. 6, an ally of Donald Trump and a staunch denier of climate change. But he won’t be returning to Congress. He gave that up his safe seat for a chance to be Texas attorney general. As he says in this interview — if he loses this election — he’s done.

Rochelle Mercedes Garza

When Gohmert, Bush and Guzman met Thursday night for their fiery debate the Democrat they name checked as a possible general election opponent was Rochelle Mercedes Garza. Garza is leading in the polling with the five candidates for the Democratic nomination. I spoke to her the race and why she’s running.

Also on the ballot are Mike Fields, Joe Jaworski, S. “Tbone” Raynor and Lee Meritt.

Primary Day is Tuesday March 1.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi