AUSTIN (KXAN) — Runoffs will decide who will face each other in November for the Attorney General seat. All eyes are on the crowded race for Texas’ attorney general as incumbent Ken Paxton faces Republican challengers.
Hours after the polls closed, AP announced Paxton would be heading to a runoff. Later Tuesday night, Decision Desk HQ officially called second place for Republican the race for George P. Bush.
Bush said his first move will be challenging Paxton to five televised debates, noting he does not expect Paxton to show.
“I’ll call him out right now and challenge him to five televised debates in all parts of our state. Let’s do this. Let’s roll up our sleeves and have a discussion so that the public in their entire Republican Party has a chance to weigh in on this race,” Bush said.
Paxton, at a watch party in McKinney, said the runoff means “the establishment” got what it wanted.
When asked to respond to that comment, Bush said, “Ken Paxton is all about the labels right? As an indicted felon, he’s gonna do what he can to stay out of jail. In fact, most white-collar criminal defense lawyers will say the best way to stay out of jail as a politician is to keep winning races. So if that’s his tactic, then so be it. But I’m going to focus on issues that Texas conservatives want to get done.”
Paxton received 42.72% (819,348) of the vote, Bush got 22.79% (437,074), Eva Guzman had 17.51% (335,907) and Louie Gohmert had 16.99% (325,828).
On the Democratic side, Rochelle Garza got 43.01% (433,821) of the vote, Joe Jaworski got 19.74% (199,135), Lee Merritt got 19.44% (196,089), Mike Fields got 12.29% (123,980) and T-Bone Raynor got 5.51% (55,571).
While the office has been held by a Republican for decades, Democrats feel hopeful about the possibility of flipping the seat blue if Paxton is the nominee. The incumbent’s tenure has a cloud of legal troubles weighing overhead.
Both of Paxton’s Republican and Democratic opponents have often cited an outstanding indictment against him as well as an ongoing FBI investigation into allegations of abuse of office. But those legal issues don’t seem to matter to most primary voters.
Incumbent Ken Paxton has been Texas’ chief lawyer since 2015. His campaign has avoided talking about his ongoing legal issues and focuses on highlighting his performance as Attorney General. He received the coveted Trump endorsement early on, which polling shows still has strong weight with Republican primary voters.
The current land commissioner of Texas, George P. Bush, has been campaigning on restoring credibility in the Attorney General’s Office, which he said has been lost during Paxton’s tenure. Bush — the nephew of former President George W. Bush and grandson of former President George H.W. Bush — was the first challenger to announce his bid.
Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman is a daughter of Hispanic immigrants who came to the U.S. legally. Guzman’s campaign advertisements have focused on this being a top issue for her. Her father was killed by an undocumented immigrant who was never brought to justice, making prosecuting felonies committed by undocumented immigrants a keynote of her border policy plan.
U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert was the last Republican to throw his hat in the ring, making his announcement in November. While Gohmert has tried to tie himself to former President Donald Trump, he did not receive the official endorsement.
Former Judge Mike Fields is a former Republican-turned-Democrat who jumped in the race largely after the state’s near grid collapse during the 2021 February winter storm, saying not enough was done to hold leaders accountable.
Rochelle Garza, a civil rights attorney, touted a case she won before the U.S. Supreme Court, after defending a teenage migrant who was denied abortion access at an immigration detention center in Texas. She has also focused her campaign messaging on being someone who deeply understands Texas working families and the issues they care about, like healthcare.
Joe Jaworski has focused his campaign on returning the office to that of a consumer protection focus, rather than being the foe of the federal government.
Civil rights attorney Lee Merrit is hoping his national profile will help him earn the Democratic nomination. Merritt has worked on high-profile cases, including representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery — who was murdered by three men in Georgia in 2020. Merrit has earned endorsements from the likes of U.S. Sen. Bernie Senators of Vermont.
Aside from being listed as a candidate on the Texas Secretary of State website, S. “T-Bone” Raynor does not appear to have an official campaign website or official social media channels.