Texas primary: Attorney General Paxton facing multiple Republican challengers – Fox News

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He’s known nationally for trying to legally upend the 2020 presidential election results, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton faces multiple Republican primary challenges on Tuesday as his state kicks off the 2022 primary calendar.

“I think we’ve accomplished a lot of really great things for Texas, really for the whole country,” Paxton touted in an interview with Fox News on primary eve

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But the two-term Texas attorney general, who enjoys the backing of former President Donald Trump, is saddled with a slew of corruption allegations, and faces the possibility of being forced into a May runoff for the GOP nomination.

“If Ken wins the nomination, he will lose to the Democrat,” Texas land commissioner George P. Bush, who’s one of the leading primary challenges taking on Paxton, warned.

Rep. Louis Gohmert, who’s also taking on Paxton, charged that “we need an AG that’s not committing crimes, but is out actually investigating and prosecuting.”

And another of the main challengers, former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, claimed that Paxton’s “a liability to Texas.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at a news conference outside the Statehouse marking the passage six months ago of a state law that bans most abortions, in Austin, Texas on Feb. 28, 2022

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at a news conference outside the Statehouse marking the passage six months ago of a state law that bans most abortions, in Austin, Texas on Feb. 28, 2022 (Fox News)

Paxton grabbed national attention for filing the unsuccessful Texas vs. Pennsylvania case in the Supreme Court that tried to overturn now President Biden’s razor-thin win over Trump in the Keystone State, and for speaking at the then-president’s rally near the White House that immediately preceded the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by right wing extremists aiming to disrupt congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Over the past year Paxton’s taken the Biden Administration to court numerous times, including a lawsuit filed last month over the federal coronavirus mask mandate on interstate public transportation, including on airplanes and airports.

“It’s real easy to talk about what you would do if you had the job, but I can prove what I’ve done. I’ve done it over the last seven years and the voters can look at exactly what we’ve done,” Paxton said.

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But Paxton’s challengers have been targeting him less on his record and agenda and more on his political baggage.

Paxton was indicted on securities fraud charges soon after taking office in 2015, and more recently came under investigation by the FBI over bribery and corruption allegations from former top staffers. Paxton has denied any wrongdoing in either case.

Asked about the ongoing federal investigation, Paxton said “I don’t know what they’re going to do. All I can tell you is that we were doing the right thing. We’re going to continue to do the right thing.”

Bush, who’s the last member of the Bush political dynasty – which over four generations has produced two presidents, a vice president, a senator, two governors and a congressman – has continuously spotlighted Paxton’s ethical issues since launching his challenge last June.

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“We can’t take that risk,” Bush argued. “As Republicans we’ve got to go with someone who’s above reproach and not facing criminal suspicion.”

Bush spotlighted his grassroots outreach, noting his “50 retail stops throughout Texas which we wrapped up late last week.” 

And he criticized Paxton for skipping out on a slew of debates and forums with the other candidates, and for the attorney general’s unsuccessful challenge of the 2020 election results.

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“We don’t like losing election integrity lawsuits as we did on the behalf of President Trump,” Bush emphasized. “We want to win again. We need swagger back in this office and our state and that’s what I’m going to try to offer.”

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who's running for attorney general, joins volunteers in calling voters on the eve of the state primary, at his campaign headquarters in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 28, 2022.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who’s running for attorney general, joins volunteers in calling voters on the eve of the state primary, at his campaign headquarters in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 28, 2022. (Fox News)

The attorney general’s race has grabbed plenty of attention in Texas, and across the country.

“You have four credible candidates with constituencies, three of which have been elected statewide, all four of whom have raised at least $1 million,” veteran Texas based Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak noted

If Paxton tops 50% in Tuesday’s primary and avoids a runoff, it may be because of support of Trump, who remains very popular and influential with Republican voters in Texas and across the country. The former president, in a recent campaign ad, called Paxton an “attorney general who has really led the way. Somebody who has been brave and strong.”

Gohmert also close with the former president, who gave the congressman a shout tout when he recently held a rally in Texas. Gohmert, who spotlights Trump’s praise in a campaign ad, charges that the former president “was told before he endorsed Paxton that I was definitely not running, and that sure sounded like that was Paxton.” 

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But Paxton emphasized “I know that the president has my back.”

Bush, who made a full court press for the former president’s endorsement, argued “I think he [Trump] made a mistake, which is fine because Ken wasn’t exactly forthright with the people of Texas, let alone the president about his own legal issues, but this is bigger than any one of us, it’s bigger than me.”

The race has turned increasing nasty in recent weeks.

Guzman, pushing back against at attack from the attorney general’s team, charged that “Ken Paxton has a history of lying…I’m not surprised he’s lied to the people of Texas about me. It reeks of desperation.”

Former Texas Supreme Court justice Eva Guzman, who's running for state attorney general, greets voters at the Texas Federation of Republican Women convention in San Marcos, Texas in January, 2022

Former Texas Supreme Court justice Eva Guzman, who’s running for state attorney general, greets voters at the Texas Federation of Republican Women convention in San Marcos, Texas in January, 2022 (Guzman attorney general campaign)

And she and Bush have also jabbed at each other recently. Bush has questioned her conservative credentials and she’s fired back over his legal resume, claiming that he “can’t win in the courtroom because he hasn’t spent time in courtroom as a lawyer.”

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And Guzman showcased her nearly dozen years on the highest court in Texas, saying that “no one has seen more constitutional law questions than I have and that’s what separates me from the bunch.”

Gohmert has also highlighted his on the bench, as a state district judge. But Paxton criticized Gohmert, who jumped into the race in November, for not being a “legitimate” candidate.

Paxton charged that a “two-and-a-half-month campaign is not legit… he was put in to take votes from me only and try to get one of those other two into a runoff. That’s clear. Because otherwise we’re rolling through this with over 60% of the vote.”

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Responding, Gohmert told Fox News that “the person who’s not legitimate is calling the kettle black…he’s got a lot of nerve to make statements about my legitimacy. You bet I’m legitimate. And he’ll find that out tomorrow.”

Paxton predicted that if the GOP nomination race heads to a second round that “I think I can take any of them in a runoff.”

But Mackowiak noted that “a runoff is a new race and will become even more intense.”

Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/texas-primary-attorney-general-paxton-republican-challengers-in-gop-primary

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