AUSTIN, Texas — One of the marquee races to watch this year is the primary battle for the Republican nomination for Texas attorney general.
Incumbent Ken Paxton is trying to hold onto his seat against three well-known challengers: Land Commissioner George P. Bush, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and East Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert. All are attacking Paxton for his legal troubles, which include an FBI investigation into claims of misconduct in office and securities fraud charges. Paxton's denied wrongdoing in both.
Rep. Gohmert joined Capital Tonight Wednesday to discuss his campaign and said Paxton’s legal problems motivated him to get into the race late.
“If anybody in his position were indicted after the primary than you could not replace that name on the primary ballot,” Gohmert said.
Gohmert is an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed Paxton for another term. Gohmert said Trump was misled.
“I get a call after I announced from President Trump saying, ‘hey, I was told you were definitely not running.’ ‘Well you didn’t hear that from me because I was considering it,’” Gohmert said. “So anyway, somebody lied to him to help Paxton. Maybe it was Paxton, but somebody on his behalf if it wasn’t him. So I’ve gotta help the president by overcoming that endorsement.”
After Trump lost reelection last year, Gohmert filed a long-shot lawsuit asking former Vice President Mike Pence to challenge Joe Biden’s legitimacy as president-elect. After a federal court dismissed the suit, Gohmert appeared to suggest violence in response, which he denied.
“We have to follow the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – that the best results occur from peaceably doing these things,” Gohmert said on Capital Tonight. “But as a judge and a former judge and former chief justice, I continue to advocate for courts to have the courage to decide the disputes that those institutions were designed to resolve so we don’t leave that open.”
When asked what involvement Trump had in the lawsuit, Gohmert redirected to Trump’s speech before rioters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 last year.
“As far as Donald Trump, he was giving a speech and encouraging people to act peaceably and it got out of hand. And as someone who’s sentenced people for striking law enforcement officers, we can’t put up with that,” Gohmert said.
When it comes to whether he thinks Biden won the election, Gohmert said, “so far that’s what’s been indicated and so far the audits are continuing, even in Texas where President Trump won. But we’re finding more and more problems with the votes. We haven’t finished finding all of the fraud that arose.”
The Texas secretary of state’s office first batch of results from its review into the 2020 general election found few issues despite unsubstantiated claims by GOP leaders that cast doubts on the election.
Gohmert has called “election integrity” a priority of his campaign.
The race has also attracted a lineup of Democrats. They include Lee Merritt, a nationally known civil rights attorney from Plano, Rochelle Garza, a former lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union from the Rio Grande Valley and Joe Jaworski, a Galveston lawyer and former mayor of the city.