Four years ago, Attorney General Ken Paxton ran unopposed in his party on his way to a second term, this election cycle things didn’t go in his favor.
Paxton faced serious primary opposition in what was the most heated fight among Texas Republicans.
His three primary foes were all well known in Texas politics; Land Commissioner George P. Bush, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, and U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, from Tyler.
The embattled incumbent, under indictment since 2015 and facing an FBI probe into how he runs his office, will face Land Commissioner George P. Bush, scion of a political dynasty, in a May 24 runoff
It appears Paxton, under indictment since 2015 and facing an FBI probe into how he runs his office, will face Bush, scion of a political dynasty in a May 24 runoff.
Paxton maintained the lead with 42.7% of votes, Bush came in second place with 22.8%, Guzman in third 17.4% and Gohmert in last place with 17.1%.
It’s no surprise Paxton had to put up a fight. All three of his GOP candidates focused on tarnishing his image as their main campaign strategy, with headlines that continuously reminded Texans of the Attorney General’s outright mockery for truth and respect of the law.
Since 2015, Paxton has been fighting securities fraud charges, and more recently, he came under FBI investigation after former top deputies alleged he abused his office to help a wealthy donor. He has denied wrongdoing in both cases, and his office released an internal report in August – which was met with skepticism – that cleared him of the accusations in the FBI matter, as reported by The Texas Tribune.
He was also accused of making “numerous false and misleading public statements,” trying to clear his name in the Whistleblower case. And might have crossed ethical lines after inciting members of the public to pressure The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals into issuing a ruling in his favor, that ended his capacity to prosecute election law violations.
Despite the deluge of bad headlines, Paxton was not as weak a candidate, managing to keep his lead heading into the primaries — with 43% of Republican support.
To help him elude his legal issues, former President Donald Trump’s endorsement came to the rescue, gaining Paxton a lot of traction with Republican primary voters — 41% said Paxtons legal problems wouldn’t keep them from voting for him.
However, chumming it up with Trump was not enough to save Paxton. His support remained below the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff — good thing his campaign was already preparing for another contest.
*Updated 3/2/2022 at 9:00 am (CST)