Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is likely to be fighting for his political future, if not his actual freedom, in the 2022 midterms.
The AG has been under a shadow for years as his indicted for securities fraud has been stalled by his office in the courts. Now, he’s also under federal investigation for possible corruption and bribery. Despite being cleared by his own internal investigation, Paxton remains under a considerable shadow.
It’s no wonder that ambitious Republicans are seeing a chance to further their own careers by challenging Paxton in the primary. Some of the names that have been thrown around are not lightweights.
The biggest name in the hat so far is Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush and nephew and great-nephew of two U.S. Presidents, Bush is hoping to bring his family dynasty to bear in the fight. He’s made no secret of the fact that he sees Paxton as a political liability, calling a win for Paxton in the primaries a “win for Democrats.”
“He’s now in year seven of this (securities fraud) trial. And if he’s as innocent as he proclaims, then he needs to sit down for a jury trial in front of his fellow peers here in the state of Texas and be evaluated, which he has refused to do now for seven years,” Bush said during a recording of Lone Star Politics, a Sunday political show produced by KXAS-TV (NBC 5) and The Dallas Morning News. “As it relates to the FBI investigation, these allegations can be taken very seriously. These were brought by his seven top lieutenants that he hand-picked and recruited to the agency. And they’ve alleged everything from bribery to corruption to abuse of Office on behalf of financial donor, so if there’s an office in Austin that requires somebody to be above reproach, it’s this one.”
Bush isn’t the only big name to aim fir the AG slot, though. Also in the race is State Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth). Krause has been making news lately by launching a disturbing investigation into books in Texas schools. He sent out a letter to all Texas school districts demanding an accounting for certain titles and whether they had been paid for with public funds. These mostly included texts on the Black Lives Matter movement, books on gender and sexual orientation, novels with anti-fascists themes, reproductive health guides, and denunciations of white supremacy. The move was largely seen as a precursor to an aggressive censorship campaign aimed at culling public schools from progressive literature.
Also running is former member of the Texas Supreme Court Eva Guzman, who resigned her post earlier this year without explanation. She has promised to begin suing the Biden Administration for unspecified reasons. If elected, she would be the first woman to serve as Texas Attorney General.
Last on the list (so far) is Congressman Louie Gohmert. In his campaign launch, Gohmert compared Paxton’s legal troubles with those of the former US House Speaker Tom Delay, who won his primary in 2006 but was dealt with corruption charges and then resigned from Congress losing his safe Republican seat in Fort Bend County to a Democrat. If Paxton wins the Republican primary and is indicted as a result of the FBI investigation, which Gohmert says is likely based on his sources in the DOJ, then Paxton’s name cannot be taken off the ballot in the general election making it more likely for a Democrat to win the Attorney General race.
There’s no doubt that Paxton’s legal troubles have put him in jeopardy despite his popular appeal among the Republican base. It will be very interesting to see if he can survive challenges from some of the state’s top conservatives.