GOP’s Paxton faces Democrat Garza in Texas AG race
DALLAS (AP) — Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sought a third term in Tuesday’s midterm elections under the cloud of an FBI investigation and dysfunction in his office that Democrats believe have opened an opportunity to end decades of GOP power in the state.
Paxton’s reelection as Texas’ top lawyer would keep America’s biggest red state a leading legal opponent to Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration on issues including immigration, voting and abortion.
Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza, a former American Civil Liberties Union and defense attorney, made abortion access central to her campaign after Texas largely banned the procedure. Before running for office, she was likely best known for representing a 17-year-old migrant who successfully sued the Trump administration in 2017 to have an abortion while in the custody of federal immigration authorities.
The first-time candidate has attacked Paxton, 59, over an array of scandals, including disciplinary action by the state bar, an FBI investigation and a long-delayed trial on securities fraud charges. But Garza, 37, has struggled with low name recognition and a considerable fundraising disadvantage in the expensive statewide race.
She and Paxton never met for a debate, and their contest drew far less donor attention than Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s challenge to GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, despite the attorney general being seen as the more vulnerable incumbent.
A Democrat has not won statewide office in Texas since 1994.
Paxton is running against Garza after besting a formidable field of primary opponents with backing from former President Donald Trump. The attorney general has kept the GOP base’s support in the face of an uncommon array of controversies.
Paxton was indicted on state securities fraud charges in 2015, went on to win a second term three years later, but has yet to face trial amid legal challenges to the venue and the prosecutors’ pay.
The State Bar of Texas this year brought a lawsuit seeking to discipline Paxton over his failed effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud. He has also been under federal investigation since autumn 2020, when eight of his top deputies accused him of using the office to help a political donor who employed a woman with whom Paxton acknowledged having had an extramarital affair.
Paxton has broadly dismissed the bar lawsuit, pending charges and accusations from his former staff as politically motivated assaults on a champion of conservative causes.
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