Can a Republican win in Texas without Donald Trump’s endorsement? GOP race for AG highlights challenge

State of Texas

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton routinely makes headlines for filing lawsuits against the federal government. But in recent months, his own legal troubles have sometimes received more attention than his work.

A panel appointed by the Texas State Bar is investigating Paxton and his staff for their failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The investigation began in early summer and aims to determine if there was misconduct on Paxton’s part in regard to a December 2020 lawsuit headed up by Paxton, which asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh the constitutionality of 2020 election procedures used in battleground states Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Paxton’s office calls the panel conducting the investigation “one-sided and partisan,” claiming the group is made up of left-leaning lawyers “strategically” picked from Travis County.

“Texans know exactly what’s going on here,” said Paxton in a press release. “It is no surprise that a cabal of President Biden donors and voters are finding a way to retaliate against the work of my office for the State of Texas’ challenge to the constitutionality of the 2020 elections.”

Paxton is still facing a criminal case, for which he was indicted on securities fraud charges in 2015, as well as a newer FBI investigation and lawsuit brought against him by his former aides.

The legal issues have been a big factor in leading three fellow Republicans to launch campaigns against Paxton for the GOP nomination for Attorney General in the 2022 elections.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced his campaign in the summer. Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman also jumped in the race. And last month, State Rep. Matt Krause launched his bid for the nomination.

All three challengers pitch themselves as conservative fighters. Our team spoke one-on-one with each Republican challenger to learn more about the motivation for getting in the race, and what they say sets them apart.

“I think this campaign comes down to executive experience. I’m the only one that’s run organizations in the private sector, the public sector and also in the military,” Bush explained. “I’m ready to start this job day one.”

Click above for full interview with George P. Bush

Bush, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, says his experience in the private sector is what the Attorney General’s office needs.

“This office needs to be turned upside down. It needs to be reformed,” Bush said. “We need to attract new talent to the most important law firm in the state of Texas.”

Guzman said her 22 years of experience as a judge makes her the best person for the job.

“The good thing about being a judge in coming to this job with my experience is that I take a look at every issue with fresh eyes,” Guzman said. “The only thing that’s guided my decisions over the last 22 years is the Constitution.”

Click above for full interview with Eva Guzman

“Whether it’s fighting for the unborn, being a voice for our children, whether it’s securing the border, whether it’s election integrity, whether it’s upholding the Constitution, I’m the one with a proven track record over two decades of supporting our constitution and upholding conservative values,” Guzman said.

Krause points to his record in the legislature as a reason for Texas conservatives to support him.

“Whether it’s pro life issues, Second Amendment issues, religious liberty, law enforcement, whatever the issue is, especially those that are important to Republican primary voters, I’ve been on the frontlines fighting for them time and again, session after session,” Krause said.

Click above for full interview with Matt Krause

“I think it’s that comfort level of knowing that you’ve got somebody who is that faithful conservative fighter, who’s going to be in that position that will resonate with the voters and draw them to support us,” Krause added.

All three Republican challengers said the accusations facing Paxton helped convince them to get into the race. We asked all of them whether they thought those allegations rose to the level that the Attorney General should resign.

“Yes I do, for the good of the people of Texas,” Guzman said. “It is time for Ken Paxton to resign and focus on his own legal issues,” she added, referencing a similar statement made last year by Congressman Chip Roy (R-Texas).

Bush also echoed the call for Paxton to resign, adding that he should face a trial over the accusations of securities fraud. “He knows as a good lawyer does, the best way to stay out of jail is to delay the cases in for the securities fraud case that he faces where we’re in year seven,” Bush said of the unresolved case.

Krause noted how Paxton’s office issued a lengthy memo finding that he did nothing wrong regarding bribery allegations against him.

“That’s man hours that we could have been using to protect the values and liberties of Texans instead of crafting your own report vindicating yourself,” Krause said.

It’s interesting to remember that Krause has been a supporter of Ken Paxton. He endorsed him in 2014 – and in 2018 even though Paxton was under indictment.

We reached out to Paxton’s office and his campaign to try to get an interview, but have not received a response.

A key player in the race for the Republican nomination for Texas Attorney General is not on the ballot: Donald J. Trump.

Getting the former President’s endorsement has been a key to victory for several Republican candidates. In this race, Trump has given his blessing to incumbent Ken Paxton.

“Ken has my Complete and Total Endorsement for another term as Attorney General of Texas,” Trump wrote in a statement released in July. “He is a true Texan who will keep Texas safe – and will never let you down!”

Paxton’s GOP challengers each believe that they best reflect the values that Trump voters want in a candidate.

“You look at the endorsement he gave to the incumbent, you can take out his name, put my name in there and you’re going to see that I fought for the exact same things,” Krause said.

Bush said he has a great relationship with Trump. “He likes my policies. He has supported me in the past and I’ll continue to reach out to his supporters,” Bush said. “The best person to carry on that agenda is me.”

Bush also pointed to the victory of Republican Jake Ellzey in a July runoff for a north Texas congressional seat as evidence a candidate can beat someone endorsed by Trump. Ellzey defeated fellow Republican Susan Wright in the runoff, despite Wright having Trump’s endorsement.

Guzman said the Trump endorsement should not be what decides this primary race.

“I’m asking Texas voters to take a look at my record to take a look at how I’ve upheld the constitution and to evaluate your candidates based on their record,” Guzman said.

“I am respectful of endorsements. It is good when leaders speak up. But at the end of the day, every Texan walks into the ballot box for themselves,” she concluded.

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