AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Monday marks the first day of early voting for the May 24 runoff, where Texas voters will choose their party’s respective nominees in several key races, including Attorney General.
Voters were divided enough in the Democratic and Republican primaries that the attorney general forced the candidates into a runoff. No Republican or Democratic candidate received more than 50% of the vote.
Incumbent Ken Paxton faces a challenge from Land Commissioner George P. Bush for the GOP nomination. Democrats will choose between civil rights attorney Rochelle Garza and trial attorney Joe Jaworski.
Republican AG runoff
A Sunday poll by the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler shows Paxton’s lead is now 6 percentage points over Bush.
Bush has been campaigning visibly more aggressively. His campaign says Bush has held more than 70 public events since the March 1 primary. Paxton has been more visible on his social media accounts and on conservative broadcast programming, promoting his various demands against the Biden administration.
A Bush campaign spokesman said Paxton has not appeared at any candidate forums or events where his opponent is present.
“We’re running a bottom-to-bottom campaign,” said Karina Erickson, communications director for the Bush campaign.
Brian Smith, a professor of politics at St. Edwards University, said it’s hard to gauge the results of the runoff based on polls because the election itself is so different from a primary or general election, where turnout is higher. .
“We never know who is going to vote. It’s a weird time of year. It doesn’t really get advertised that much, it doesn’t get that much media attention. So in a second round anything can happen,” she said. “So he is [Bush] he had an uphill battle, but he’s trying to close out that running game.”
In a May Bush campaign ad, he says he’s proud of his family’s legacy in Texas, but notes the race is bigger than preserving the Bush dynasty.
“This race is not about my last name. It is about the crimes of Ken Paxton,” he said in the announcement.
Paxton’s legal troubles have been the target of opponents since even before the primary. He faces a years-old securities fraud indictment, an ongoing FBI investigation into allegations of abuse of power, a whistleblower lawsuit from former senior advisers, and complaints from various groups and attorneys seeking to expel him from the Texas State Bar. .
The incumbent has avoided talking about his ongoing legal problems and focuses instead on highlighting his performance as Attorney General. He received the coveted endorsement from Trump early on, who according to polls still carries heavy weight with Republican primary voters.
Paxton’s campaign did not respond to requests for an interview or comment.
Democrat AG runoff
Democratic voters will have a choice between civil rights attorney Rochelle Garza and trial attorney and former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski.
The two have conducted a more civil campaign with each other, focusing their attacks squarely on Paxton. Jaworski said the two agreed to support each other regardless of the outcome.
Jaworski has said that his three decades of experience as a trial lawyer make him the most qualified and capable of defeating Paxton, should he win the Republican nomination.
In the 2018 election, Paxton narrowly defeated a Democrat for attorney general. Jaworski said winning over independent voters would be key in that potential matchup.
“They [independents] they will not be swayed by a purity test on either party. They are going to look at the integrity and ethics of the experience,” he said.
Garza is best known for a case involving Paxton that she defended and won before the United States Supreme Court, after defending a teenage immigrant who was denied access to an abortion in an immigration detention center in Texas.
“Here we have an opportunity to present a candidate who has a proven track record of fighting for civil rights and winning,” he said. “I am that candidate that I know can take on Ken Paxton in November.”
Here we have the opportunity to present a candidate who has a proven track record in fighting for civil rights and victory. I am that candidate. I know I can face Ken Paxton in November.
The issue of abortion rights has taken on a new focus after a leaked draft opinion showed the high court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, prompting progressives to hold protests across the country and call for electing officials who will protect reproductive health care.
Garza, who just gave birth to her first daughter a few weeks ago, said her newfound fatherhood has also ignited a new spark in her passion for this topic.
“I want to make sure that my daughter has a bright future and that the next generation does too,” she said. “That can only be done by making sure that she and all other young women are treated as equals, as full human beings with human rights. And that starts with reproductive freedom.”
Early voting began Monday and ends Friday, May 20. Voters did not have to vote in the primary election in order to vote in the second round, but they did have to choose one party’s ticket over another. The second round is on Tuesday, May 24.