AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As early voting for the March 1 primary kicks off, incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton is polling below the threshold needed to avoid a runoff election.
Any candidate needs more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff. Earlier this week, a University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll showed Paxton with 47% of Republican primary voters, current General Land Commissioner George P. Bush with 21%, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman with 16% and current Congressman Louie Gohmert with 15%.
All three say Paxton’s personal legal troubles played a major factor in entering the race. Aside from his ongoing indictment on securities fraud charges, seven of Paxton’s top aides reported him to the FBI with allegations of bribery and abuse of office.
“That played a part because what I know is that it’s not like he is told some people, ‘Oh, a bunch of criminals stabbed me in the back.’ Because these are seven top people who were hired for their intellect, and hired for their integrity, despite what he has said about them,” Gohmert said in an interview with Nexstar.
His full interview can be watched at the bottom of this article.
Gohmert said he worries Republicans could hand the race over to the Democrats in November if Paxton is the one on the ticket then.
“[The DOJ] is not going to do anything until after the primary and under Texas law, I know I’ve Paxton’s supporters that, ‘Oh, no, we could replace them on the ballot if we wanted to.’ There is no basis for replacing someone on the ballot who wins the primary, then is either indicted or convicted, you can’t replace them on the ballot. So it’s time to make that adjustment now,” Gohmert explained.
Even with those legal troubles, Paxton received former President Trump’s endorsement over the summer. Gohmert said he has not asked Trump to take that back now that he’s entered the race, and maintains a good relationship with him.
“I talked to President Trump last summer a few weeks before he endorsed Paxton and I encouraged him not to endorse anybody in that race. And he said Paxton’s been calling him three or four times a week for weeks and begging him to endorse him. ” Gohmert said. “I also knew that once he endorsed, he’s never withdrawn on endorsement, that I’m aware of.”
Gohmert said one of his top priorities if elected will be border security, much like the other Republican candidates. He said his focus will be keeping migrants from ever stepping foot on Texas soil.
“Until somebody puts a foot on Texas soil, they’re not an immigrant, legal or illegally in the country. So the key I think, in complying with the [Arizona] Supreme Court mandate is you don’t let people put a foot on Texas soil unless they come through a lawful port of entry,” Gohmert said.
When asked how he would do this, Gohmert pointed to the wall and technology used by DPS.
“That wall is back from the border people are already in the United States by the time they encounter the wall,” Gohmert said. “We have our DPS has thermal technology, their balloons, you can float up that have thermal technology, night vision. And I’ve been with them when we would see with the thermal images of people coming to the Mexican side of the border, and would radio that into the Border Patrol. You don’t have to have a person every foot of the border.”
Gohmert said his other top priority will be securing elections in Texas, although there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
“The AG has over 750 lawyers, most a lot of them do child support collection. But when it comes to the election, we ought to have an assistant AG in every county in the state to make sure that elections are run fairly, securely, and get them TROs or injunctions anytime they’re not,” Gohmert said.
Addressing one of his other challengers, Gohmert critiqued Bush’s handling of the Alamo as Land Commissioner.
“One of the things that struck me even before I thought about running for AG was hearing that we needed to reimagine the Alamo. This is Texas. We remember the Alamo. We don’t reimagine the Alamo. And for those of us that grew up studying, thinking about it, we understand what that means,” Gohmert said.
Bush responded to that comment, saying he’s proud of his work on the grounds of the Alamo.
“When I showed up to office seven years ago, it was literally falling apart. Texas A&M showed a study that said basically, if the state of Texas did not intervene that it wouldn’t be around for our children and grandchildren. I’m proud to report we’ve closed Alamo Street. Proud to report this week that Ripley’s Believe It or Not will no longer be on the grounds of the Alamo,” Bush said.
Gohmert said he also would not be afraid to push back against other state leaders.
“You wouldn’t see me, but I would be going personally to the Governor when I was concerned about something that was being done, saying, ‘Let me tell you about this mandate, I think that violates state law or the state constitution, let’s just behind the scenes in a friendly manner, work this out. Because otherwise, I gotta sue you in court,” Gohmert said.
The last day of early voting is Feb. 25, the last day to apply for a mail-in ballot is Feb. 18, and the primary itself is on Tuesday, March 1.