WASHINGTON, D.C. (KXAN) — Sen. John Cornyn described the legal troubles surrounding Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton as an “embarrassment” for the state, as early voting is underway in the primary runoff to decide whether the incumbent will advance as the Republican nominee.
During a conference call Thursday, Cornyn responded to a reporter’s question about the runoff in the attorney general’s race between Paxton and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Cornyn first said he tries to stay out of primary politics. However, he added, “I will tell you that I remain very disturbed by the fact that the incumbent has had a[n] indictment hanging over his head” for the past several years.
“This is the chief law enforcement officer of the state of Texas,” Cornyn said, “and it’s a source of embarrassment, to me, that has been unresolved.”
Paxton fired back later Thursday, saying Cornyn “represents the Bush wing of the GOP.”
“I’m focused on stopping Biden’s disastrous agenda & defending Texans’ conservative values,” Paxton said. “I’m not shocked by the Senator’s comments. He represents the Bush wing of the GOP. I’ll never relate to Senator Cornyn’s ability to compromise with radical Senate Democrats in D.C.”
Paxton faces an indictment for securities fraud, an ongoing FBI investigation into allegations of abuse of office, a whistleblower lawsuit from former top aides and complaints from various groups and attorneys seeking to disbar him from the State Bar of Texas.
Paxton has avoided talking about his ongoing legal issues on the campaign trail and has instead focused on discussing his performance in office. He also received an early endorsement from former President Donald Trump, which polling shows carries strong weight with Republican primary voters.
Bush and his campaign have used the legal issues facing Paxton as one of their central attacks against the incumbent during the contentious primary. The two Democratic candidates facing off in a primary runoff of their own — Rochelle Garza and Joe Jaworski — have also piled onto Paxton for the same reasons.
KXAN reached out Thursday afternoon to the attorney general’s office and the Paxton campaign for comment, and we will update this story once a response is shared.
Cornyn also told reporters that voters will ultimately decide which Republican will advance to the general election in November.
“I can’t predict what the outcome will be,” Cornyn said, “but I do, as a former attorney general myself, I’m embarrassed by what we’re having to deal with.”
This past weekend, Cornyn traveled to Ukraine with a delegation of several other Republican lawmakers, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
On Thursday, he also voted in favor of a new $40 billion infusion of military and economic aid for Ukraine and its allies, joining 85 other senators who agreed to send the package to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.