As new challengers join the crowded race for the Attorney General’s seat and Republicans navigate the incumbent’s fraud scandals knowing the accusations damage both the investiture and the party, Ken Paxton seems to be sensing a possible defeat.
The race for AG with Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman for the Republican primary, now includes State Rep. Matt Krause who recently announced his intentions to challenge Paxton.
The democratic primary challengers to date include mediator and former Galveston mayor, Joe Jaworski, and renowned civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who was named the eighth-most-influential African American between ages 18 and 45 in the U.S by online magazine The Root.
With such a complex scenario involving high-profile candidates, Paxton has broken his silence on the challengers for his seat.
During an interview with Mark Davis, Ken Paxton acknowledged the threat of losing the seat to Democrats, admitting that his indictment for felony securities and fraud charges have been hurting his re-election efforts.
“I think it’s just individual cases of personal ambition. I personally think we’ve got enough trouble running against the Democratic Party and being indicted.” Paxton told Davis.
“The contested primary “forces all of us to spend our money in a primary when in reality, I need my money against the Democrats.” “It’s making it much harder for us to defend these seats that are critical for Texas and the country,” said Paxton.
Matt Krause, a Fort Worth Republican, told The Dallas Morning News that Texas voters need a strong conservative alternative to the embattled Paxton, who’s under federal investigation after bribery allegations made by eight of his former staffers. Since 2015, Paxton has been under indictment for securities fraud and defrauding a McKinney company.
“You just want to have an attorney general who can focus on being that faithful conservative fighter … and how to protect and how to defend the liberties of Texans and not have to worry about FBI investigations or those kinds of things,” Krause said.
Paxton’s performance as the AG has been heavily criticized and shadowed by his fraud scandals, many have stated that the efforts invested to clear his name have not allowed him to focus on Texas’ pressing issues.
As Paxton’s legal troubles pile up, the two most prominent GOP challengers, George P. Bush and Eva Guzman have agreed with him on identifying the AG seat as one vulnerable to a Democratic flip.
“They see that Ken Paxton is our weak link,” Bush said about Democrats. “They know that if he was the lowest vote-getter statewide in the last election cycle, and they know that if he is our nominee again, they have their first statewide elected office in close to 30 years.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, a Paxton primary win would indeed give Democrats their best chances to win a statewide election next year, quoting Juan Carlos Huerta, professor of political science at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
“If Guzman or Bush were to win the nomination, that takes away all the scandal and investigations that surround Paxton,” Huerta said.
“We don’t have a voter fraud problem; we have a Ken Paxton problem,” said Democrat challenger Joe Jaworski. “He is using this as an ideological pivot for his base and to justify whatever few prosecutions he can muster.”
Jaworski said Paxton should instead be doing more to address gun violence, adding “people are actually dying in those instances.”